HoopsHype Luol Deng rumors

September 9, 2014 Updates

Luol Deng: "I'm proud to say I actually have a lot of African in me, not just "a little". For my entire life, my identity has been a source of pride and strength. Among my family and friends, in my country of South Sudan and across the broader continent of Africa, I can think of no greater privilege than to do what I love for a living while also representing my heritage on the highest stage. Unfortunately, the comment about my heritage was not made with the same respect and appreciation. Chicago Tribune

The WSB-TV report throws the actions of both Ferry and Levenson into a harsher light. In a letter obtained by the station, minority owner Michael Gearon, Jr. calls on Levenson to discipline Ferry. Here are a few key passages: During the call, which we recorded so that notes could be made for our partners unable to participate live, our GM Danny Ferry discussed player personnel issues at some length. 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.” [...] We were 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 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. Yahoo! Sports

As a minority partner with no effective say in decision-making, we were somewhat at a loss what to do next. So we consulted this week with two attorneys, one a very well-known and highly respected former African-American judge in Atlanta, and the other a highly regarded employment discrimination lawyer. They confirmed our fears and then some. The former judge put it pretty succintly, saying that any African-American who heard the comments would interpret them as meaning "all blacks are two-faced liars and cheats." The employment attorney opined that we as a team face significant exposure, possibly in the courts, but certainly in the court of public opinion, and, as we all know, within the league. She described the possible fallout as "devastating." We agree. [...] Yahoo! Sports

September 8, 2014 Updates

The trigger of events that led to the toppling of Atlanta Hawks owner Bruce Levenson began with general manager Danny Ferry referring to free agent Luol Deng as still having "some African in him" on an organizational conference call, league sources with direct knowledge of the probe told Yahoo Sports. "He's still a young guy overall," Ferry said, league sources with direct knowledge of the probe told Yahoo. “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." Yahoo! Sports

Hawks CEO Steve Koonin told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Ferry had received an undisclosed punishment, but would remain as GM. The disparaging racial reference to Deng triggered at least one team owner on the call to pursue an independent investigation into how the organization operated in regard to race. The search uncovered the 2012 email that Levenson sent to Ferry and two minority owners that ultimately led to Levenson's decision, under pressure, to sell his stake in the Hawks. Yahoo! Sports

Koonin told the Journal Constitution that the Hawks held a meeting in early June to discuss potential free-agent targets. According to Koonin, Ferry cited a background report that included an "offensive and racist" remark about a player. "Instead of editing it, he said the comment," Koonin said. Sources told ESPN.com's Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne on Monday that the player involved was Miami Heat swingman Luol Deng, who held free-agent discussions with the Hawks in July before signing with the Heat in the wake of LeBron James' return to Cleveland. The specific nature of Ferry's comments regarding Deng were not immediately known, but Koonin told the newspaper that the comment troubled others in the meeting, saying: "This is wrong. This should not be said. It's not appropriate in any world but not a post-Sterling world." ESPN.com

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