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September 12, 2014 Updates

That is not to say that the new owner of the Hawks, whoever it turns out to be, should necessarily keep Ferry as general manager. New owners want their own people in place, and it's beyond unlikely that the new boss in the 404/770 is going to want to deal with the baggage of retaining Ferry in the wake of the horrible, racially insulting remarks he made about Luol Deng during a staff meeting last month. NBA.com

But all of us have said and done things at one time or another in our lives that, without context, could be fatal to not just our employment, but our reputation. Think of every e-mail and text you've sent, or every phone call you've made, in the last five years. Anything in those messages that, if posted on Twitter, would make you look like ... a racist? A sexist? A tax cheat? A homophobe? Do any of us want to be judged on the dumbest, least informed thing we've said about someone else? I've known Danny Ferry since we were teenagers -- me a senior, he a freshman -- at DeMatha High School in suburban D.C. in the early 1980s. We have always had a friendly relationship, through his days as a player and as a rising executive after he retired, though I would not call us friends. (He expressed mock outrage a few years ago when I opined to someone that he was one of the "top seven or eight" players -- but not higher -- who ever played at DeMatha. He then would refer to me as "one of the top dozen or so reporters" who came out of that school.) NBA.com

That means that Atlanta's black and Latino populace is among the most employed, and among the best paid, of any African-American populace in the country. If the issue is income, why wasn't Levenson worried about getting those people into Philips Arena as well as more affluent whites? Perhaps the next owner will seek out the support of the entire Atlanta community. The shame of the dysfunction in Atlanta's front office is that the Hawks were improving on the floor, taking Indiana to seven games in the first round even without All-Star Al Horford, on the shelf for the season with a torn pectoral muscle. But while Ferry had built a solid team with solid, low-priced free agents, Atlanta had failed miserably in its pursuit of superstars like LeBron James, Chris Paul or Dwight Howard. The Hawks were always on the outside looking in. NBA.com

Rev. Markel Hutchins: The NBA is going to do and say what is in the best interests of the NBA. Those of us who are practitioners of social justice and social responsibility take the position that Danny Ferry has got to go, and it is in the best interests of not only the Atlanta Hawks, but the Atlanta community and all the rich history that we represent in this community. He’s got to go. HawksHoop.com

Rev. Markel Hutchins: I have hypothesized, and I have no concrete proof, but there’s a strong inclination deep within me that suggests the reason that the meeting with civil rights leaders and the Atlanta Hawks was called off yesterday has everything to do with the league having put the kibosh on the meeting. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that NBA commissioner Adam Silver met with Hawks leadership on Tuesday after I spoke Monday night with Steve Koonin, the CEO of the Hawks. On Tuesday night, I get a call trying to suggest that they want to cancel the meeting with us. I don’t think there’s any coincidence. The NBA is apparently trying to cover this culture, and we have to expose it in order for justice to really prevail for the players. HawksHoop.com

Now Adam Silver, the commissioner of the NBA, is saying that he doesn’t believe that Danny Ferry should be let go. I read in ESPN.com today that your group or civil rights leaders that you brought to Phillips Arena yesterday, that you don’t agree with that position. RMH: Well, Adam Silver probably is concerned about what is good and best for the NBA. We are concerned about what is good and best for humanity overall, a part of which the NBA is. But there’s a larger issue here. We cannot afford, particularly in the cradle of the American Civil Rights Movement and the birthplace of Martin Luther King, Jr., we cannot afford to send a message to this nation, and particularly to basketball players in the NBA – to everyone really – that it is acceptable to use that kind of language and still be embraced by the birthplace of the American Civil Rights Movement. So while Commissioner Silver may be looking at what is in the best interests of the NBA, we’re looking at what is in the best interests humanity and the nation as a whole. HawksHoop.com

Rev. Markel Hutchins: Atlanta has a rich tradition and legacy for setting an example to the nation and the world about how African Americans and white Americans and others can work together to resolve conflict and confusion around race and racial incidents. So we think in some real sense this issue of what is happening, not only with the Levenson email, but more importantly with Danny Ferry’s commentary, we think it is something that is very important and critical to the whole of this community. And we obviously have some concerns, not just about those incidents but what I believe is a culture in the Atlanta Hawks, and in the NBA overall, a culture that is less diverse than America is, that is less inclusive than America is, and that is less understanding and embracing of the diversity that makes America great. HawksHoop.com

September 11, 2014 Updates

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution released an audio recording Thursday evening of the conference call, which has called into question whether Ferry was reading or speaking on his own accord. But a person with knowledge of the situation told USA TODAY Sports that an NBA investigator previously had seen the report and also heard the recording. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the private nature of the investigation. And Silver has acknowledged the existence of the scouting report and referenced its role in the matter as part of his reasoning for not believing that Ferry should be fired. USA Today Sports

"Race does come up occasionally when you're talking about 'big, slow white guys' — but again, is that racist? Or does it reflect reality that a lot of big white guys are in fact slow? When the 'slow white guy' term is used, I don't think anybody is offended, white or black. USA Today Sports

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has obtained the audio recording of the Hawks conference call that is at the center of the current firestorm that has engulfed the organization. The June 6 call features general manager Danny Ferry speaking about potential free-agent targets. During the call with ownership and management, Ferry discusses Luol Deng and uses a racial comment. Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Masai Ujiri: I have no idea what is happening in the Atlanta Hawks organization, but I do know how the scouting world works. We all have different ways of sharing information about players and different vocabularies to do so. It crossed a line here. That said, we are all human. We are all vulnerable. We all make mistakes. You discover a person’s true character in their ability to learn from and then move on from those mistakes. One of the truly important things we must learn is how to forgive. Danny’s mistake will remain tied to him for a long time. What he’s said can’t be unsaid, but we must measure his heart. If he has made an honest, isolated error, we should forgive and move on. Toronto Globe & Mail


While arguably the most popular, Dominique Wilkins is not the best player in franchise history.


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