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September 8th, 2014
06:41 PM ET

Was Hawks owner's email racist, or just business?

(CNN) – A NBA owner who came down hard against former LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling for making racist remarks is now entangled in his own racial controversy.

Atlanta Hawks owner Bruce Levenson is offering to sell his stake in the team, after an email he sent back in 2012 surfaced. In it, he expresses a frustration that the majority of fans going to Hawks games are African American.

"My theory is that the black crowd scared away the whites and there are simply not enough affluent black fans to build a significant season ticket base," he wrote. "i never felt uncomfortable, but i think southern whites simply were not comfortable being in an arena or at a bar where they were in the minority."

Levenson says he made the comments not because he's a racist, but because he wanted to expand the team's fan base and sell more tickets. And unlike Donald Sterling, who first denied making racial remarks, Levenson owned up to his email as being inappropriate and offensive.

"I trivialized our fans by making clichéd assumptions about their interests…by focusing on race, I also sent the unintentional and hurtful message that our white fans are more valuable than our black fans," he said in an apology.

Levenson is actually getting support from high profile African Americans tied to the league. NBA legend Kareem Abdul Jabaar wrote an op-ed calling it unfair to compare Levenson to Sterling, and saying the email was more about business than race.

CNN "Unguarded" host Rachel Nichols, and Washington Post columnist Clinton Yates discuss.

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