It’s pretty amazing that the Atlanta Hawks have the best record in the NBA. It’s a team that has lame-duck ownership, which would not be so bad if it had not come to be because of exposed racist transgressions by leadership.
You will recall that the majority owner, Bruce Levenson, apparently overwhelmed with guilt (or, more likely, the prospects of an enormous payday), ratted himself out on racist emails he sent to staff that said he wanted to see more whites during in-game promotions, less Black cheerleaders, more whites at games and less Blacks spending money at bars and concessions.
Almost immediately after exposing himself, Levenson announced he was selling his majority stake of the team, a value that increased exponentially when Steve Ballmer dramatically overpaid ($2 billion) for the Los Angeles Clippers after Donald Sterling’s racist implosion.
Not much longer after Levenson’s bombshell came reports that general manager Danny Ferry, who went to Duke, called Loul Deng, who also went to Duke, a “liar and a cheat” because of his African heritage.
To be exact, Ferry said of the dignified Deng: “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 by implication, all persons of African decent) as a “two-faced liar and cheat.”
Levenson will be out, but not soon enough, when the team eventually sells. Ferry has been suspended indefinitely. The call here is for the “indefinite” part to be switched to “fired.”
Forget the perspective of small thinkers like Charles Barkley, who said during a telecast Monday night that Ferry is a “good guy” and should be reinstated. Ferry very well may be a “good guy”—although even that’s debatable—but what he expressed about NBA personnel is inexcusable and should warrant firing.
Background: Ferry is the son of former long-time Washington Bullets general manager Bob Ferry. He has been around Black athletes all his life and played alongside many, like the upstanding Johnny Dawkins, coach of Stanford, and Tommy Amaker, coach at Harvard. He’s been around high-quality African-American men. And yet his takeaway about a fellow “Dukie” is that his African heritage makes him a liar and a cheat?
Calls from Atlanta media and others have been for Ferry to rejoin the team that he helped build through shrewd trades and free-agent signings. No. He has lost that right. It would be an affront to the franchise if he were to be granted access to something he sullied.
The team is doing more than fine without him.
Meanwhile, it’s taking longer for the team to be sold than it was to build Philips Arena. Dominique Wilkins, who had a statue of him unveiled Thursday, wants in, but has to be a part of a group that has big capital. Former NBA sharpshooter Junior Bridgeman, who has made $400 million in business ventures, and ex-NBA star Grant Hill and others have formed a group that has or wants to make a bid, according to Bloomberg.
It would stand to reason that the new owners would want to significantly distance themselves from Ferry. Should he be “blackballed” and never work again in the NBA? No. Ferry obviously knows what he’s doing and can help a franchise.
Just not the Hawks. He’s sullied it and the best way to clean up his mess is for him to kick rocks…permanently.