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Danny Ferry audio on Luol Deng makes GM look worse

Danny Ferry’s explanation that he was merely reading from a scouting report when he made racist comments about Luol Deng seems less believable now that the audio has been released.

On Thursday the Atlanta Journal-Constitution posted audio from the conference call Ferry had with several Atlanta Hawks owners on June 6 to discuss free agents. The clip they shared (which you can hear above) includes Ferry’s analysis of Deng.

Danny Ferry Hawks

As you can tell, it sounds like Ferry is speaking extemporaneously and adding personal commentary, even though he may be using some notes/profiles on a player as a guidance. When Ferry says Deng “has some African in him,” one voice even cautions that that’s the type of racist statement that could end up on TMZ the way Donald Sterling’s comments did.

As examples to show what he meant about having “some African in him,” Ferry said Deng could be the kind of guy who’s a lawyer in the locker room when the coach is not around and model citizen when the coaches are around, or the type of guy who would be a source for a newspaper report and then deny he made the comments. He also described Deng as someone who was “good for the culture but not a culture setter” while playing for the Bulls.

The comments reflect extremely poorly upon Ferry. He could have very easily have made his point by describing Deng as “two-faced,” but instead chose to make a racist remark. I have to imagine some more public discipline will be coming for Ferry now that this audio has been released.

I still think the minority owner behind the Ferry audio and Bruce Levenson email is seeking power rather than racial justice, but there’s little doubt the two men incriminated themselves.

Danny Ferry on Luol Deng: He has African in him, would sell you counterfeit stuff

Danny Ferry Hawks

Danny Ferry looked like he was going to escape the Atlanta Hawks scandal without losing his job, but now that might not be the case.

On Sunday, word came through that Hawks majority owner Bruce Levenson would be selling his stake in the team after a 2012 internal email he sent was shared with the league. In the email, Levenson talked in open terms about the demographics of the Hawks’ fan base and how to make the product appeal to more white fans.

We learned early on Monday that the investigation into the team came as a result of some comments Ferry made about Luol Deng while discussing free agents with some of the team’s owners. It was originally reported that Ferry said Deng had “some African in him.”

Now WSBTV in Atlanta provides more details about Ferry’s analysis of Deng. This comes via an email Hawks minority owner J. Michael Gearon, Jr. sent in a June 12 email to Levenson.

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.

You can read the full text of the email at this PDF link.

In the email, Gearon called for Ferry to lose his job. Ferry was only subjected to an undisclosed punishment by the team and nothing from the league. The team defended him by saying he was only repeating what was written about Deng in a scouting report and not sharing a personal, racist opinion.

If there is enough backlash in response to this letter getting released, Ferry might be pushed out.

It sure seems to me that a minority owner or two really wants control of the team and has decided to go about it in this way. I don’t think their motivations were innocent.

Luol Deng scouting report sparked Hawks investigation

Luol DengA racist remark about then-free agent Luol Deng led to an investigation of the Atlanta Hawks which resulted in the determination that owner Bruce Levenson would be selling his stake in the team, a report says.

According to Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Hawks GM Danny Ferry made a comment about Deng’s cultural background during a conference call with the team’s owners to discuss potential free agent signings.

“He’s still a young guy overall,” Ferry said on the call, according to Woj. “He’s a good guy overall. But he’s not perfect. He’s got some African in him. And I don’t say that in a bad way.”

Apparently that comment from Ferry was said on a call with seven of the team’s owners. One of the owners was concerned enough by that comment that he hired a firm to conduct an independent investigation into the organization. That’s how the now-infamous email from Levenson was discovered.

Ferry reached out to Deng and the player’s agent on Monday to apologize for the comments.

Deng had interest from the Hawks but signed with the Miami Heat.

The NBA and other Hawks owners decided it would be best for Levenson to sell his share in the team. That announcement was made on Sunday.

My initial suspicion when I heard the story on Sunday was that one of the other owners leaked the email because he wanted to push out Levenson. Whether that was motivated by concerns about Levenson’s character or other reasons, that owner got his way.

Danny Ferry Joins Mike Brown Among Nation’s Unemployed

“Would somebody please do something to sign Lebron James?” seems to be the general consensus around NBA front offices this summer. Knowing that change is a necessity for the Cleveland Cavaliers to hold onto their six-time NBA All-Star, the Cavs’ ownership followed up the firing of Mike Brown as head coach with the announcement that they will not maintain Danny Ferry as general manager, opting instead to promote assistant GM Chris Grant to the top executive position. Rumors had been circulating about this move for some time, and the decision became official on the Cavaliers website today with this statement from majority owner Dan Gilbert:

“For five years, Danny Ferry was instrumental in leading the establishment of a culture, process and professionalism that has become part of the fabric of the definition of ‘who’ are the Cleveland Cavaliers. Danny worked extremely hard to create this strong foundation that we will continue to build upon going forward with much gratitude and appreciation. This solid foundation is evident by the natural and clear choice to choose his close associate, Chris Grant, whom Danny worked in partnership with for his entire five years leading the Cavaliers front office, to succeed Danny as the Cleveland Cavaliers new general manager.”

In other words, “See you later Danny, LeBron’s in charge.” Of course, it was abundantly clear that King James was not returning to Cleveland without a new coach and a new general manager, making this a major move in the LeBron summer sweepstakes. Only time will tell if these practical management decisions will be able to compete with the care package of cards, gifts, and signs that Moishe’s moving company is organizing to support New York’s bid for LeBron.

Sources:
Danny Ferry Resigns as Cleveland Cavaliers General Manger [NBA Fanhouse]