So, what exactly has been going on within the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks organization? After learning majority owner Bruce Levenson is looking to sell his stake in the franchise over an internal e-mail he sent laced with racially insensitive remarks, comes the news that this all started because general manager Danny Ferry expressed racist views about then-free agent Luol Deng.
Now, Ferry should follow Levenson out the door.
The guy said of Deng, a former Duke star: “He has a little Africa 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.”
Not done, Ferry added, that Deng is a “two-face liar and cheat.”
Michael Gearon Jr., a minority owner who was on the conference call when Ferry made those sick comments, called for Ferry’s firing. WSB-TV Atlanta secured a June 12 letter in which Gearon wrote to Levenson:
“We are appalled that anyone would make such a racist slur under any circumstance, much less the GM of an NBA franchise on a major conference call. One of us can be heard on the tape reacting with astonishment. Our franchise has had a long history of racial diversity and inclusion that reflect the makeup of our great city. Ferry’s comments were so far out of bounds that we are concerned that he has put the entire franchise in jeopardy. … If Ferry’s comments are ever made public, and it’s a safe bet to say they will someday, it could be fatal to the franchise. … As lifelong Atlantans with a public track record of diversity and inclusion, we are especially fearful of the unfair consequences when we eventually get thrown under the bus with Ferry. 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.”
Makes sense. As a general manager, Ferry has done a solid job. But to make those kind of comments should end his career in Atlanta. Ferry has claimed he was repeating what he had heard and will not resign. Fine. This is where Adam Silver, the relatively new NBA commissioner who has to be wondering what he got into (Donald Sterling, Levenson and now Ferry in the last three months), has to again wield his power and protect the integrity of the league.
Ironically, Gearon’s concerns about Ferry led to an investigation of the Hawks’ inner workings, which discovered Levenson’s e-mail that said, among other things, “black fans scared way white fans,” more white cheerleaders are needed, fewer black fans participating in timeout contests and other mindless gibberish.
The two top men of the franchise have been exposed with expressing drastically insensitive, racially charged comments. Levenson is on the way out, new ownership on the way in. Hard to imagine someone investing hundreds of millions of dollars into the Hawks and wanting the face of the his new franchise looking like Ferry.