Posts Tagged ‘Atlanta Hawks’

A former Atlanta Hawks employee is suing the team for alleged discrimination against her by upper management, including jokes about so-called “white culture,” according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Raisa Habersham.

Margo Kline filed the lawsuit Friday asking for punitive damages for what she claims was an exclusionary environment against white employees and the subsequent favoritism of black employees by the team’s external affairs director David Lee, a black man.

The Hawks ignored her complaints while encouraging other white employees to ostracize Kline or risk losing their jobs, the lawsuit claims.

After five years with the Hawks as a community development coordinator, Kline was fired in March 2017.

“We take all claims of discrimination seriously and have performed a thorough review of these baseless claims,” the team’s statement to The Journal-Constitution reads. “The case was quickly dismissed at the (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) level. We deny these claims and will vigorously defend against them.”

The Hawks have been no strangers to controversies relating to race in recent years – but, usually, the dynamic of the offenses have been reversed. In the aftershocks of the Los Angeles Clippers‘ Donald Sterling fiasco in 2014, then-Hawks owner Bruce Levenson sold the team after self-disclosing an offensive email in which he discussed the team’s black fans.

The team’s general manager at the time, Danny Ferry, also found himself in hot water after audio from a conference call showed him reading, verbatim, a scouting report on Luol Deng, describing the Sudanese-born swingman as having “a little African in him.” Despite a third-party investigation finding that the offensive language wasn’t Ferry’s by origin, Ferry took an indefinite leave of absence before resigning in 2015.

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It’s probably a negative when a rumor comes out that your former teammates were “screaming with jubilation” after you were traded. But Dwight Howard has heard that Atlanta Hawks story, and calls it untrue.

“That’s stupid,” Howard said Friday, via AJC’s Michael Cunningham. “How can you win an award for being the best teammate in your locker room but then be the most negative guy. That doesn’t make sense.”

Howard is referring to the NBPA’s Players Voice award he won over the summer as the Hawks’ 2017 Teammate of the Year. Either way, Howard was dealt to the Charlotte Hornets in June for Miles Plumlee and Marco Belinelli.

“You can ask anybody in (the Hornets’) locker room now what type of guy I am,” Howard added.

While Howard’s track record as a locker room presence isn’t spectacular, at least one former Atlanta teammate has come to the center’s defense. Malcolm Delaney cast doubt on the rumor, calling Howard “a good dude.”

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Fourteen of the NBA’s 30 franchises lost money last season before receiving revenue-sharing cash from the league, and nine of those teams still ended up in the red after that, according to confidential financial records obtained by ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and Zach Lowe.

The report appears to confirm suspicions that despite record income from national television contracts, some teams are having trouble turning a profit – and not just in small markets.

The nine franchises to reportedly come out in the red, by the league’s accounting, after revenue sharing are: the Atlanta Hawks, Brooklyn Nets, Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons, Memphis Grizzlies, Milwaukee Bucks, Orlando Magic, San Antonio Spurs, and Washington Wizards.

The Spurs and Cavaliers may raise eyebrows given their combined runs of success, but it was already widely reported the Cavs lost $40 million during their 2015-16 championship season – due in part to a $54-million luxury tax bill.

At the end of the day, small cities such as Memphis and Milwaukee cannot compare to markets like Los Angeles. However, Brooklyn is part of New York City, and Washington and Atlanta rank as the nation’s seventh- and 10th-largest media markets, respectively.

At least one owner brought up the idea of expansion as a way to increase team income, the report states. An expansion fee – likely over $1 billion per team – would be divvied equally among NBA owners and not subject to the 50-50 basketball-related income split with players under the collective bargaining agreement.

Commissioner Adam Silver is on record as saying expansion is not a priority, although markets such as Seattle may be soon waiting in the wings for a new team. Relocating less profitable franchises is another option, something a handful of richer owners have suggested, according to Windhorst and Lowe.

The chasm between the NBA’s most profitable and weaker franchises will be discussed at the league’s next Board of Governors meeting at the end of September, sources told ESPN.

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The Atlanta Hawks are being sued by a former employee for discriminatory practices when it came to race, according to a report from FOX 5.

Samuel R. Hayes, a former security operations manager for the Hawks, alleges in his lawsuit that the Hawks fired him because he was black, and that the team used different security protocols based on the race of celebrities that attended games.

Hayes states black celebrities such as Drake, Future, Kanye West, 2 Chainz, Kat Williams, Migos, Tyler Perry, and others were not given permission to bypass security. White-passing celebrities such as AC/DC, Amy Schumer, Adele, Bon Jovi, and Ariana Grande were given permission to skip security.

The level of security within Philips Arena on any given night also differentiated based on the race of the performer. Hayes alleges security managers demanded “extra tight security” at black shows. This discrepancy was pointed out by Hayes and some of his fellow employees.

The Hawks issued a statement to FOX 5 that they will fight Hayes and his “baseless” claims.

“Samuel Hayes is a former security manager at Philips Arena. He was terminated for poor performance and his claims are baseless. We will defend vigorously,” the organization said through Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer Nzinga Shaw.

This marks the fourth straight year in which the Hawks have grappled with controversies surrounding discriminatory practices.

In 2014, former team owner Bruce Levenson was forced out of the franchise when he complained in a team email that Philips Arena was “too black” which deterred the middle-age white crowd in his estimation.

The Hawks parted ways with former general manager Danny Ferry in 2015 after he made disparaging comments about African players – but specifically with relation to free-agent target Luol Deng – in a team meeting. An independent investigation into the incident later concluded that Ferry wasn’t motivated by racial, ethnic, or origination bias or animus.

In 2016, during a season-ticket holder event, ex-general manager Wes Wilcox made a racially insensitive remark about black women being “angry” and “argumentative.” The Hawks disciplined Wilcox a month later following an investigation, then moved on from Wilcox altogether this summer as they shuffled the front office.

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Mike Budenholzer has officially resigned as president of basketball operations for the Atlanta Hawks, while Wes Wilcox has stepped down from his role as general manager.

Budenholzer will remain Atlanta’s head coach, while Wilcox will serve as a special advisor to ownership.

“As we have said from the beginning, we are committed to building the Atlanta Hawks into a championship-caliber team, and after the end of our season, it was clear to all of us that our basketball operations leadership needed this reorganization,” Hawks owner Tony Ressler said in a press release.

Budenholzer has led the Hawks to a 189-139 record during his four seasons in Atlanta, earning Coach of the Year honors during the 2014-15 campaign.

After joining the organization in 2012, Wilcox was promoted to general manager in June 2015, helping the Hawks reach the postseason in back-to-back years.

The Hawks are entering a crucial offseason, with Paul Millsap expected to opt out of his current deal this summer.

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Nearly 1,700 miles separate Georgia from Utah, which makes Dwight Howard‘s prank on his mother colder than Salt Lake City.

“I wanted to see her reaction, so I told her, I said, ‘Mom, I got this big contract, $150 million.’ And she was like, ‘Oh my God, from who?’ I said, ‘Utah Jazz,’ and she started crying,” Howard said during an appearance on the Doug Gottlieb Show on CBS Radio on Monday.

“And I said, ‘Mom, sorry. I was just joking. I’m coming home to Atlanta.’ And then she was super happy and my family was super excited.”

Howard’s family was clearly gung-ho on him returning home to ink a deal with the Atlanta Hawks, with Utah perhaps being the complete opposite of what they could have hoped for.

Let’s just assume that his mother’s reaction was directed at the distance and not her opinion of the Jazz organization, although they haven’t qualified for the postseason five of the last six years.

Howard joining the Hawks has worked out quite well for him after he signed his three-year, $70.5-million contract over the summer. He’s currently averaging 15.2 points, 12.4 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks on a career-best 63 percent shooting in his first nine appearances.

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The Atlanta Hawks are set to give their home arena a $192-million makeover, with the majority of the funding for the project coming from Atlanta’s taxpayers.

Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed announced Tuesday that the city will put up $142 million for the renovation, with Hawks ownership chipping in $50 million, USA Today’s Dan Wolken reports.

Philips Arena was completed in 1999 at a cost of $213 million (approximately $304 million in 2016 USD).

The team and city have been in talks regarding what Reed called a “retrofit” of Philips since an ownership group headed by billionaire Tony Ressler (and including former player Grant Hill) purchased the team in April 2015. Ressler said avoiding upgrading the facility was “not an option,” and threatened to move the team from downtown Atlanta if a financing deal with the city couldn’t be reached.

Atlanta is already losing the Braves to the neighboring suburb of Cobb County next year.