NBA Hawks GM Ferry Takes Leave After Luol Deng ‘African’ Remark

Atlanta Hawks General Manager Danny Ferry is taking an indefinite leave of absence after he said Luol Deng had “some African in him” during a conference call to discuss the veteran free agent.

“It is my hope that this time away from the Hawks organization allows him the privacy he needs to listen to the community, to learn about his mistakes and to begin the long process of personal healing,” Hawks Chief Executive Officer Steve Koonin said yesterday in a statement.

Ferry’s exit came five days after majority owner Bruce Levenson said he would sell the National Basketball Association club following the disclosure of an “offensive” e-mail. Levenson said he made stereotyped assumptions about fans’ interests and beliefs, such as that white fans might be afraid of black fans, in a 2012 e-mail that examined why the Hawks were having difficulty drawing white season-ticket holders.

Ferry said yesterday he was reading a scouting report about Deng, who signed with the Miami Heat, on the conference call with the team’s limited partners.

“While these were not my words, I deeply regret repeating them,” Ferry said in a statement. “No words can adequately describe my remorse for the hurt that I have caused many people through the statements I repeated, most importantly Luol Deng.”

Ferry said he’ll spend his time away from the team meeting with community leaders to “further educate myself and others on the extremely sensitive issues surrounding race diversity and inclusion.”

Ron Klempner, acting executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, said in an e-mailed release that the union “deplores the insensitive and thoroughly inappropriate remarks by Danny Ferry.”

“We are pleased to learn that Ferry acknowledges his statements were offensive, has extended a personal apology to Luol Deng and the other Atlanta Hawks players and that the Hawks organization has determined that discipline of Ferry was warranted,” Klempner said in his statement.

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