The Hawks had two incidents involving racially insensitive remarks emerge in the past couple of weeks, and while the apologies keep coming, the words spoken and written by the team’s GM and majority owner respectively have gotten the attention of players around the league.
And it’s not the type of attention that any organization wants.
While neither Danny Ferry’s comments on Luol Deng nor Bruce Levenson’s discussion of race in an email reached Donald Sterling levels on the severity scale, the fact that multiple members of an organization were caught behaving this way is going to have repercussions. And Carmelo Anthony believes it will impact Atlanta’s ability to attract free agents in the future.
“[There] ain’t nobody [who] would want to go there,” Anthony said at the Citi Carmelo Anthony Basketball ProCamp at Baruch College Saturday morning. “At the end of the day, Atlanta … I think it puts Atlanta back even further now, from that standpoint.” …
“As a player, as an athlete, we’re looking for a job, we’re trying to find a place where we can move our family, we can make our family comfortable, where we can be comfortable in a comfortable environment, but those comments right there, we would never look at. I’m speaking on behalf of all athletes. We would never look at a situation like that, I don’t care what it is.”
“It’s going to take a collective effort,” Anthony said. That’s not going to change overnight. I don’t think that just happened overnight. That’s been an accumulation over the past couple years. A lot of people think that it just happened, but it’s been going on for the past two or three years now … these are conversations that have been ongoing.”
That last part is critical, because this isn’t one offhand remark that somehow got twisted to the point where it got someone in trouble. The email from ownership was sent in 2012, and Ferry’s casual way in which he delivered the slur in his description of Luol Deng leads to to believe that he felt completely safe in speaking that way to members of the ownership group.
This is also different from the Clippers situation in that, as I detailed at the time, players in most cases have little to no contact with ownership, and are largely playing for themselves. But a general manager typically is more involved, and communicates with players on a regular basis. The fact that Ferry worked so closely with the players while potentially harboring a negative racial view of them — and that it was allowed by ownership to happen — leads you to believe that Anthony may be correct in his assertion.