Atlanta Hawks general manager Danny Ferry’s racially charged comments about Luol Deng are coming back to haunt him. Earlier in June, Ferry made racially insensitive comments about Deng during a free agency conference call.
Ferry said that Deng “is still a young guy overall. He is a good guy overall. But he is not perfect. He’s got some African in him. And I don’t say that in a bad way,” according to one person.
Atlanta Hawks co-owner Michael Gearon wanted Hawks controlling owner Bruce Levenson to fire Ferry or force him to resign after the comments were made.
“They were not from a private conversation — they were in a business environment on a business matter in front of a dozen or more people,” Gearon wrote. “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.”
According to Gearon’s letter, Ferry also said Deng was, “like a guy who would have a nice store out front but sell your counterfeit stuff out of the back.”
Gearon wrote, “Ferry completed the racial slur by describing the player (and implicitly all persons of African descent) as a two-faced liar and cheat.”
“We were appalled that anyone would make such a racist slur, much less the GM of an NBA franchise on a major conference call,” Gearon wrote. “One of us can be heard on the tape reacting with astonishment.”
Deng, who from Sudan, is considered one of the hardest workers in the NBA and one of the league’s good guys. In April, he was given the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award. He is a two-time All-Star and spent the first nine-plus years of his career with the Chicago Bulls. He was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers last season and signed with the Miami Heat this summer.
Ferry responded to the situation Tuesday with a statement, saying he was only repeating comments gathered by the team.
“Those words do not reflect my views, or words that I would use to describe an individual and I certainly regret it,” Ferry said in the statement. “I apologize to those I offended and to Luol, who I reached out to Monday morning.
“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.”
The Hawks have yet to decide what to do with Ferry.