Tag: Miami Heat

Luol Deng

Luol Deng says he forgives Danny Ferry: “I don’t think Danny’s racist”


Even though it was already written in a scouting report, it was Atlanta Hawks GM Danny Ferry who chose to closely paraphrase bigoted comments about free agent Luol Deng on a conference call — “he’s got some African in him” — that led to Ferry being on leave from the team and in danger of losing his job. And apologizing. Twice.

Deng has said before he was disappointed by the comments, that he was proud to be African.

But he has also decided to forgive Ferry and try to put the entire incident in his past, Deng said at Miami Heat media day, as reported by the Associated Press.

“I don’t think Danny’s racist,” Deng said….

“It’s not something I want to hold onto for the rest of my career or the rest of my life,” Deng said. “I had a chance to speak to Danny. I really believe that he’s really sorry for what he said. Whether it came from him or wherever it came from, I think the main focus really should be how we move on forward.”

That’s Deng being the bigger man (and is an example of why the whole comment about him being two-faced was off the mark from the start). It is why Deng is one of the most respected players around the league.

Deng was traded to the Cavaliers last season and wasn’t happy about it, then ran into a dysfunctional locker room Mike Brown had lost. The Cavs were a mess. It would be fair to say Deng had one foot out the door from the moment he got to Cleveland, and that and his attitude about it clearly didn’t sit well with someone (or someones) in the Cavs organization.

The Deng that the Heat signed will be a different one — he defends hard, he scores in transition, and he plays within the system. A system in Miami that will give him more freedom than Tom Thibodeau’s did in Chicago.

Deng should be happy on a pretty good Heat team, and he’ll be happier if he can put this all behind him. Which it sounds like he is trying to do.

While Ferry has a lot of people around the league in his corner, his fate will be left to whoever ends up buying the Hawks (the majority of the team is up for sale).

Mario Chalmers refers to LeBron James as ‘that guy’

Mario Chalmers, LeBron James

The Heat are in the unenviable position of trying to move on without LeBron James.

The last team to try that dropped from 61-21 to 19-63. Miami probably won’t fall that far, but the decline is inevitable.

That’s no fun for the Heat, who not only have to play a season with LeBron but answer a ton of questions about his departure.

Everyone is handling that their own way, including Erik Spoelstra and Mario Chalmers.

Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel:

That doesn’t mean Spoelstra declined to discuss LeBron. Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press:


That’s a healthy attitude. I don’t necessarily believe him, but that’s a healthy attitude.

The Heat have no choice but to put their heads down and focus on the task at hand. That might be easier for a coach, who tends to be more disconnected from a team’s camaraderie than the players are. I’m sure Spoelstra misses LeBron. It’s not the same way his former teammates miss him, though.

If Miami’s players can follow Spoelstra’s lead, they’ll be better off. Easier said than done, though.

Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer: Danny Ferry’s comments were ‘very much out of character’

Danny Ferry, Mike Budenholzer
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Danny Ferry has no shortage of people who’ve vouched for him:

Add Hawks coach and acting general manager Mike Budenholzer to the list.

Budenholzer, in a Q&A with Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Q. What has been the most difficult to deal with?

A. It has been difficult. Danny is a friend and somebody I care about. I think he’s made mistakes and I think he’s acknowledged them and he wants to learn and grow from this. He put me in this (coaching) position and I have strong feelings for him. I understand that he has made mistakes and I understand that we need to build and repair the trust. He’s a friend of mine.

Q. Have you known Danny to use those comments in the past?

A. I’ve known Danny for 15-plus years, as a player, as an assistant coach and now as a head coach and a friend. Race has never been an issue with Danny. Comments like that, I would say, are very much out of character.

I’m convinced Ferry did not intend to be racist. I believe he wants not to be racist.

But someone’s character is determined by their actions.

Ferry saw “he’s an African” used pejoratively written in front of him. Then, he said a paraphrased version of that comment to Hawks ownership.

Those are his actions. Those are now part of the actions that define his character.

I’m sure none of the people vouching for Ferry would have believed he’d say such a thing, repeating someone else’s scouting report or not. But he did.

At some point, we must stop just saying Ferry doesn’t fit our classic definition of a racist. The more important questions: Why did he say what he did? How can we all learn from what led someone with such a sterling reputation to say that? How can we avoid repeating these incidents in the future?

To his credit, Ferry has apologized and is reportedly trying to make amends. That’s a good step toward answering those questions.

On another note, Budenholzer clearly isn’t angling through for Ferry’s job permanently. It’ll be interesting how that factors into what’s also a power play among Hawks owners, including Michael Gearon, who reportedly already wanted Ferry out.