Sports

Hawks apologize, say organization 'did not do the right thing' to end racially charged words

  • FILE - In this April 14, 2014, file photo, Steve Koonin, speaks after being introduced as the new CEO for the Atlanta Hawks NBA basketball team at a press conference in Atlanta. A scheduled meeting between Koonin and Atlanta civil rights leaders has been cancelled, leading one of the leaders to say his community was greatly offended. The Rev. Markel Hutchins announced Wednesday's, Sept. 10, 2014, meeting was called off "at the last minute." He later said he received a call from Hawks spokesman Garin Narain on Tuesday night asking that it be postponed.  (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)

    FILE - In this April 14, 2014, file photo, Steve Koonin, speaks after being introduced as the new CEO for the Atlanta Hawks NBA basketball team at a press conference in Atlanta. A scheduled meeting between Koonin and Atlanta civil rights leaders has been cancelled, leading one of the leaders to say his community was greatly offended. The Rev. Markel Hutchins announced Wednesday's, Sept. 10, 2014, meeting was called off "at the last minute." He later said he received a call from Hawks spokesman Garin Narain on Tuesday night asking that it be postponed. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this Dec. 22, 2010, file photo, Atlanta Hawks owner Bruce Levenson claps during an NBA basketball game between the Hawks and the Cleveland Cavaliers in Atlanta.  A double dose of racially inflammatory comments by the Atlanta Hawks' leadership has created a a crisis that threatens to resonate on the court and in the stands. This is a team that already ranked 28th out of 30 teams in attendance last season. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)

    FILE - In this Dec. 22, 2010, file photo, Atlanta Hawks owner Bruce Levenson claps during an NBA basketball game between the Hawks and the Cleveland Cavaliers in Atlanta. A double dose of racially inflammatory comments by the Atlanta Hawks' leadership has created a a crisis that threatens to resonate on the court and in the stands. This is a team that already ranked 28th out of 30 teams in attendance last season. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this Jan. 8, 2014, file photo, then-Cleveland Cavaliers forward Luol Deng talks with reporters after practice in Independence, Ohio. Atlanta Hawks general manager Danny Ferry has been disciplined by CEO Steve Koonin for making racially charged comments about Luol Deng when the team pursued the free agent this year. Ferry apologized Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014,  for “repeating comments that were gathered from numerous sources” about Deng. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan, File)

    FILE - In this Jan. 8, 2014, file photo, then-Cleveland Cavaliers forward Luol Deng talks with reporters after practice in Independence, Ohio. Atlanta Hawks general manager Danny Ferry has been disciplined by CEO Steve Koonin for making racially charged comments about Luol Deng when the team pursued the free agent this year. Ferry apologized Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014, for “repeating comments that were gathered from numerous sources” about Deng. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan, File)  (The Associated Press)

The Atlanta Hawks have released an open letter of apology to the team, fans and city of Atlanta, saying the organization "did not do the right thing" to correct racially inflammatory words and innuendos.

The apology, signed by CEO Steve Koonin, was released on Saturday, one day after the team announced general manager Danny Ferry was taking an indefinite leave of absence following his racially charged comments about Luol Deng.

On Sunday, co-owner Bruce Levenson announced he will sell his controlling share of the team following the release of his racially inflammatory comments in an email to Ferry and the team's other owners.

Koonin says the Hawks "must own these shortcomings and failures." He says the team will work with a diversity consultant and hire a chief diversity officer.