USA TODAY reported Atlanta Hawks GM Danny Ferry took an indefinite leave of absence as a result of the racist controversies surrounding the team. Talk about a late whistle. Ferry caught heat for allegedly reading aloud the following lines from a scouting report on Luol Deng: “He’s got some African in him. And I don’t say that in a bad way. But he’s like a guy who would have a nice store out front but sell your counterfeit stuff out of the back.” Um, Ferry sounds like a guy who plays the nice liberal out front but smears people with bigoted bullshit out of the back. Ferry’s biggest question mark, however, has nothing to do with the Deng quote. Rather, he’s got some explaining to do regarding the infamous Bruce Levenson email—as the culturally clueless memo was sent to Ferry. Did he respond to Levenson in a “Luol Deng” fashion? Ferry’s got some Old White Guy in him.
Hawks GM Danny Ferry takes indefinite leave in wake of racism controversy
By Adi Joseph, USA TODAY Sports
Atlanta Hawks general manager Danny Ferry has taken an indefinite leave after the release of an audio recording of him reading a racist scouting report in June, the team announced Friday.
Ferry was on a conference call with the Hawks’ ownership group when he discussed Luol Deng. Apparently reading a report written by an external scout, Ferry said, “He’s got some African in him. And I don’t say that in a bad way. But he’s like a guy who would have a nice store out front but sell your counterfeit stuff out of the back.”
Initially, the Hawks privately disciplined Ferry despite co-owner Michael Gearon’s recommendation to part ways with him. But they conducted an internal investigation that led to the release of an offensive e-mail written by controlling owner Bruce Levenson to Ferry, and Levenson has decided to sell his share of the team.
Ferry had the backing of several prominent members of the NBA community, including NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. Silver told USA TODAY Sports this week that he did not think Ferry should be fired.
But a recording of the call was released Thursday night by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, leading to this decision and a statement of apology from Ferry.
“No words can adequately describe my remorse for the hurt that I have caused many people through the statements I repeated, most importantly Luol Deng,” Ferry said in a news release from the Hawks.
“Luol is a good man who I have known for many years and he has done a tremendous amount of good for his country and around the world. I apologize to Luol and I apologize to all that I have offended. As I have said, while these were not my words, I deeply regret repeating them. Almost all the background information I provided during the lengthy presentation regarding Luol was positive and my personal and professional recommendation during the call was very much in favor of adding Luol to our team but I never should have uttered those offensive remarks and for that I apologize.”
Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer will oversee basketball operations.
Here’s the full statement from Hawks CEO Steve Koonin:
“This afternoon, Danny Ferry requested, and I have approved, taking an indefinite leave of absence, effective immediately. This has been an incredibly difficult time for him and his family and it is my hope that this time away from the Hawks organization allows him the privacy he needs to listen to the community, to learn about his mistakes, and to begin the long process of personal healing. As a human being, manager and friend, I wish him well as he undergoes this process.
“While the issues related to race are deeply troubling, at the heart of this dispute is an unfortunate disagreement amongst owners. That said, we have taken several steps to address what we can do as an organization to be better and stronger, including working with a diversity consultant to examine us and to train us to ensure something like this never happens again, we are committed to hiring a Chief Diversity Officer, and we have and will continue to meet with community leaders in an ongoing way to ensure our values reflect the community in which we play and work. The process of selling the team, which is to remain in Atlanta, is already underway.
“Effective immediately, our Head Coach, Mike Budenholzer, will assume oversight of the basketball operations department. He will report directly to me.
“I am deeply saddened and embarrassed that this has put a blemish on our team and our city, which has always been a diverse community with a history of coming together as one. We should build bridges through basketball, not divide our community or serve as a source of pain.”