Report: Hawks general manager Wes Wilcox joked to fans about his angry, argumentative black wife

9 Comments

The Hawks have yet another racial issue to answer for.

Former owner Bruce Levenson sent an email complaining about the overwhelming-black makeup of the team’s ticket-buying fans. Former general manager Danny Ferry used “African” pejoratively to describe a drawback to offering Luol Deng a substantial contract.

That doesn’t make either Levenson or Ferry racist, but that they were so comfortable saying racist things in the workplace – and might have gone without any pushback except for the millions of dollars in the balance – hinted at a broader problem. How much that broader problem had to do with the Hawks’ or America’s culture is an open question.

But Levenson sold his share of the team, and Ferry was ousted – and the struggle still exists.

General manager Wes Wilcox met with season-ticket holders, including Clarenton Crawford, last month. Fans’ questions became critical of the team.

Patrick Redford of Deadspin:

According to Crawford and another source who was present, Wilcox, who is white, tried to diffuse the tension with a joke:

“I know you guys may be angry with me, but I’m used to it because I have a black wife and three mixed kids, so I’m used to people being angry and argumentative.”

(In a statement released to Deadspin, Wilcox said, “At an early December chalk talk, I made a self-deprecating comment at my own expense regarding my family, which is multi-racial. This joke offended Mr. Crawford and his wife and for that, I apologize.”)

In certain environments, this joke is OK. In front of strangers in a workplace setting, probably not.

Is this a huge deal? No. But Wilcox should handle himself more appropriately on the job.