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After Atlanta Hawks’ general manager Danny Ferry used the phrase “has some African in him” to describe newly signed Miami Heat player Luol Deng, Deng is firing back.
According to sources, Ferry was reading a scouting report and said,
“he’s still a young guy overall. 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 but he’s like a guy who would have a nice store out front but sell you counterfeit stuff out of the back.”
Since this took place, Ferry has reportedly reached out to Deng’s agent and has been in some way reprimanded by the Hawks’ team manager, Steve Koonin; however many, including the team’s minority owner J. Michael Gearon Jr., are calling for Ferry’s dismissal.
Yesterday, Deng himself voiced his opinion on the matter, telling the Sun-Sentinel’s Ira Winderman,
“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.”
In a twist of irony, Deng actually attended Duke University, the same college as Ferry, before beginning his NBA career. And although the forward was indeed born in South Sudan, he has lived in Egypt, London, and the United States, as well as represented Great Britain in the 2012 Summer Olympics.
Personally, I find it hard to believe that Ferry will be able to continue working for the Hawks organization, especially given owner Bruce Levenson recently revealing his own indiscretions. But despite the inevitable, Ferry has recently released this statement:
“In regards to the insensitive remarks that were used during our due diligence process, I was repeating comments that were gathered from numerous sources during background conversations and scouting about different players. I repeated those comments during a telephone conversation reviewing the draft and free agency process. Those words do not reflect my views, or words that I would use to describe an individual and I certainly regret it. I apologize to those I offended and to Luol, who I reached out to Monday morning. In terms of the email that Bruce sent, the situation is disturbing and disappointing on many levels and I understand Bruce’s words were offensive. I am committed to learning from this and deeply regret this situation. I fully understand we have work to do in order to help us create a better organization; one that our players and fans will be proud of, on and off the court, and that is where my focus is moving forward.”