It hasn't been a good week for the Atlanta Hawks, who now have themselves in a hot racist mess similar to the one of the Donald Sterling fiasco with the Los Angeles Clippers.

It all started with owner Bruce Levenson's comments in an email about black versus white people, which led to him selling his share of the franchise. Up next is general manager Danny Ferry, whose comments are much worse than Levenson's.

According to Pro Basketball Talk, here's what Ferry said about Luol Deng in a scouting report:

Zach Klein of WSB-TV 2 obtained a letter sent by Hawks co-owner Michael Gearon to Levenson – read the full version here – that calls for Levenson, the team’s majority owner, to fire Ferry. Gearon also details the infamous conference call in which Ferry used a slur about Luol Deng, and Gearon’s version differed from the previously reported account.

A few excerpts from the two-page letter dated June 12:
During the call, which we recorded so that notes could be made for our partners unable to participate live, our GM Danny Ferry discussed player personnel issues at some length. With respect to one potential free agent, a highly-regarded African-American player and humanitarian, Ferry talked about the player’s good points, and then on to describe his negatives, stating that “he has a little African in him. Not in a bad way, but he’s like a guy who would have a nice store out front but sell you counterfeit stuff out the back.” Ferry completed the racial slur by describing the player (and impliedly, all persons of African descent) as a two-faced liar and cheat.

We were appalled that anyone would make such a racist slur under any circumstance, much less the GM of an NBA franchise on a major conference cal. One of us can be heard on the tape reacting with astonishment.

We believe these comments by Ferry were far worse than Sterling’s because they were not from a private personal conversation—they were in a business environment on a business matter in front of a dozen or more people. If Ferry would make such a slur in a semi-public forum, we can only imagine what he has said in smaller groups or to individuals. We also note that the racial diversity of our management team has changed for the worse since Ferry took over. The media (and any savvy layer) would have a field day with that fact.

We are calling on you, as majority owner and NBA Governor, to take swift and severe action against Ferry. Our advisors tell us there is no other choice but to ask for Ferry’s resignation, and if he refuses, to terminate him for cause under his employment agreement.



Ferry then apologized for his comments.

“In regards to the insensitive remarks that were used during our due diligence process, I was repeating comments that were gathered from numerous sources during background conversations and scouting about different players,” Ferry said, via the team’s official release. “I repeated those comments during a telephone conversation reviewing the draft and free agency process. Those words do not reflect my views, or words that I would use to describe an individual and I certainly regret it. I apologize to those I offended and to Luol, who I reached out to Monday morning.

“In terms of the email that Bruce sent, the situation is disturbing and disappointing on many levels and I understand Bruce’s words were offensive.

“I am committed to learning from this and deeply regret this situation. I fully understand we have work to do in order to help us create a better organization; one that our players and fans will be proud of, on and off the court, and that is where my focus is moving forward.”

Deng, who signed with the Miami Heat this offseason, responded to the remarks to the Sun-Sentinel.

"HE HAS A LITTLE AFRICAN IN HIM"

"These words were recently used to describe me. It would ordinarily make any African parent proud to hear their child recognized for their heritage.

"I'm proud to say I actually have a lot of African in me, not just "a little". For my entire life, my identity has been a source of pride and strength. Among my family and friends, in my country of South Sudan and across the broader continent of Africa, I can think of no greater privilege than to do what I love for a living while also representing my heritage on the highest stage. Unfortunately, the comment about my heritage was not made with the same respect and appreciation.

"Concerning my free agency, the focus should purely have been on my professionalism and my ability as an athlete. Every person should have the right to be treated with respect and evaluated as an individual, rather than be reduced to a stereotype. I am saddened and disappointed that this way of thinking still exists today. I am even more disturbed that it was shared so freely in a business setting.

"However, there is comfort in knowing that there are people who aren't comfortable with it and have the courage to speak up. In the same way a generalization should not define a group of people, the attitude of a few should not define a whole organization or league.

"Ultimately, I’m thankful to be with an organization that appreciates me for who I am and has gone out of its way to make me feel welcome."


This is all definitely a controversial matter. I would be shocked if Ferry remains with the team.

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