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Bruce Levenson and the Constant Reminder of the Sports Owner

This doesn't apply to the Golden State Warriors. But it sorta does. I don't know.

Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

"Adam has far less support on Sterling than anyone knows," was the scariest line I read on Sunday morning. Consider me naive, idiotic, or both, but I’m still relatively young and assume that cold-blooded logic and business decisions are a thing worth pushing aside for moral steps forward. Most of you aren’t like me, and unfortunately are accustomed to this type of behavior; a classified and accepted style of actions that permeates the ownership group in all sports.

Dan Snyder literally held a rally in which people shouted in universal approval to keep the name of a racist term as the title of a National Football League team. Mark Cuban took the opportunity of a Paul George injury to blatantly push his agenda of creating funds for the NBA while exploiting the labors of underage kids. Donald Sterling..well…you know the rest. Using the "Etc.." feature isn’t usually specific enough but there are so many examples in the history of the NBA that the best books were written on this specific thing.

What Hawks majority owner Bruce Levenson wrote wasn’t so much blatantly racist - and I’ll leave this argument to brighter minds - as it was another stark reminder that owners are ruthless and purposefully blind in running capitalistic ventures while treating human entity as coldly as plausible. The Atlanta Hawks are stuck in a football town as a decent basketball team that actually makes the playoffs without attracting fans. Did Levenson leak the email to give himself a reason to sell the team - a move that yields more money than it perhaps probably should, not because of increased exposure, but because franchise values are so high at this moment in time? The fact that this appears a move that is absolutely within the realm of a billionaire speaks to the majority of owners. And it just came out yesterday that Danny Ferry was willingly stereotyping Luol Deng. It never ends.

Why else is Joe Lacob angling to move the Golden State Warriors from Oakland to San Francisco? But the most frightening aspect of all this as alluded earlier is the lack of dialogue willing to bring this up.

Most of this doesn’t necessarily influence us directly. A friend said to me while watching an NFL pregame show, "Is this Washington slur thing still going on? Who cares?" Besides the fact that I need better friends, it’s hard to have nuanced conversations on a platform that aggressively seeks to avoid them at all costs. Every minute real life situation is a detriment to balls going into hoops, balls crossing pylons, balls smashing into wooden bats.

There’s little awareness to ownership behavior because there’s no tangible factor with which to aim the fury. What Ray Rice did was despicable and he was correctly vilified through it all. But Jim Irsay? We won’t hear about him after his 15 minutes of infamy. There’s no face put to the fire; very little noticeable effect to the damage done. So when the NBA released this information on a Sunday morning, on the first weekend of the NFL season, their intentions were as transparent as Cuban’s letter on the FIBA.

An obscure owner from a little-known franchise spewing froth in a letter that leads to an ownership change? Yeah, that’s less so a subject worth mentioning to the general public than the next listicle on the 21 things teenagers should feel about long-distance relationships. Racism is an incredibly loaded and necessary term when discussing sports, history, and life. The instant process of savagely tweeting away a player’s bad decisions are much more gratifying than the much more effective discussions on the issue at hand.

How we delve into these subjects are a wholly different issue. Twitter is an effective, if clumsily parsed, place - despite some echo chamber characteristics - to mine for thoughtful passages. But not everyone is privy to the lack of outlet at hand, preferring to conserve privately or on a much more academic platform. Whichever it is, there’s not much I’m hoping for here but anything above the usual slamming of ownership, of players, and of humans. I am guilty of this because it’s so easy. Avoiding the necessary conversation, even if actions are much tougher to take, is even easier.

Similar to the ongoing internal struggle for NFL fans, there’s one part of us that knows and accepts that concussions, domestic violence, and the broad stroke of brandness runs every seemingly insensitive move. But I, and most of us, keep watching because the escapism to things we can’t necessarily control isn’t worth the potential boycott. The NBA isn’t obliviously awful to that extent but everyone knows NBA owners are who they are and, sooner or later, the same questions will be posed to us as fans who keep filling up their bank account.

Just last Sunday, Cowboys fans essentially stopped showing up to Jerry’s World because of the ridiculous prices and ignorance to his own lack of success. During the NBA playoffs, some even came out and derided fans of the Clippers for cheering for them despite Sterling’s past of racist behavior. Perhaps the answer is more later than sooner, but the questions we can and should ask ourselves and others are certainly much more ubiquitous as technology has spread awareness of what really goes on not just in NBA ownership but corporations everywhere.

While these owner actions are nothing new to certain people - ones much more hardened than myself - the incessant reminder of hopelessness with which this renders everyone is tiring. All this is tiring. It won’t stop, at least not anytime soon, but at a minimum, I hope kids as naive as I will reach and discuss entities that aren’t the usual low-hanging fruit we’re trained to react to.

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