Bungling outfit they’ve shown themselves to be, even the Atlanta Hawks are conceding it might be a bit challenging for a senior exec to survive, let alone prosper, in an industry where roughly 75 percent of the employees are black when he seems of the mind that “all persons of African descent” are “two-faced liars and cheats.”
Those are just some of the words that have now netted team GM Danny Ferry an undisclosed slap on the wrist and resulted in owner Bruce Levenson being forced to put his team on the market in the wake of several racially charged comments he admittedly uttered about the black populous in general.
But if it’s any consolation, Luol Deng— the direct, then free-agent target of Ferry’s vitriol— should know his would-be boss didn’t mean any of it “in a bad way.” Though one has to wonder what other way one could take being classified as someone “like a guy who would have a nice store out front and sell stuff out of the back” can be taken.
For what it’s worth, Ferry has apologized for making the metropolis branded since the 1960s Civil Right Movement as “The City Too Busy to Hate” appear as one overflowing with those very emotions. And despite all the hues and cries of what seems to be the growing masses, he apparently will be allowed to keep his job.
“I was repeating comments that were gathered from numerous sources during background conversations and scouting about different players,” Ferry said in a statement released by the team. “I repeated those comments during a telephone conversation reviewing the draft and free agency process. Those words do not reflect my views.”
And yet, Danny Ferry seemed so well-versed in his delivery. Almost, Donald Sterling like.
“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,” Hawks co-owner Michael Gearon wrote in calling for Ferry to either be fired or resign. “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.”
Several civil rights leaders have also called for meetings with Hawks and NBA officials to further sort out all the other sordid details. “Evidently the culture of racism and bigotry that is pervasive and ever-present in the Atlanta Hawks leadership is embarrassing to the city of Atlanta and undermines the very best of Atlanta’s history of race relations and being a leader for the nation and the world,” said the Rev. Markel Hutchins.
Again, for what it’s worth, Ferry has vowed to learn and grow from his divisive words. “I am committed to learning from this and deeply regret this situation,” he said. “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.”
Yeah, sure, but who wants to be the next Luol Deng-like free agent to take the chance of suiting up for him?