The ongoing saga in Atlanta keeps getting worse, with new details emerging regarding comments made by Hawks general manager Danny Ferry.
As was reported yesterday, an investigation into alleged racial misconduct began nearly three months ago after a "scouting report" on Luol Deng, a possible free agent target for the Hawks, included some racist language. Full details have to come to light, based on a letter to Atlanta owner Bruce Levenson - who was the first domino to fall this weekend - from minority owner J. Michael Gearon, Jr.
In the letter, Gearon described the language used by Ferry during a teleconference with Atlanta team officials:
"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 went 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 of the back." Ferry completed the racial slur by describing the player (and impliedly, all players of African descent) as a two-faced liar and cheat."
Some rumors have linked this assessment of Deng to ousted Cleveland Cavaliers general manager Chris Grant, who was fired by the team last season. Grant had worked as an assistant GM when Ferry was with the Cavs organization; Deng spent part of last season with Cleveland.
Ferry maintains that the information was not his opinion but rather provided by other scouting sources, as tweeted out by Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski:
Danny Ferry issues statement, insisting comments on Luol Deng were gathered "from numerous sources" in scouting process and weren't his own.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) September 9, 2014
Even more surprisingly, Deng and Ferry both attended Duke University, albeit at different points in their respective collegiate careers. Deng's stay with the Blue Devils was short-lived while Ferry, who had a short and unspectacular career in the NBA, stayed for a full four years at Duke.
While Gearon's letter asks for Levenson to consider firing Ferry, that does not appear to be in the works. Rather, Levenson will continue looking into selling the team and perhaps judgement will be handed down from the league office.
Ferry has said he will not resign based on these allegations.
All in all, this is a bizarre start to Deng's career with the Heat and one hopes that these issues will be resolved quickly and will not be an ongoing distraction during the season. It also very unfortunate that they should involve Deng, a player widely regarded for his high character and tireless dedication.
Stay tuned for the latest news here at Hot Hot Hoops.