Through the entire mess that may cost Danny Ferry his job in Atlanta his supporters have had his back.
It started with a conference call with team owners Ferry said of free agent Luol Deng, “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.” It was biggoted, unprofessional, and while Ferry produced a scouting report he said he was just reading from it doesn’t absolve him. He didn’t edit what he told owners. He should have known better (Ferry has apologized and is currently on a leave of absence).
You can add Golden State coach Steve Kerr to Ferry’s backers. The two were teammates for five seasons (Cleveland and San Antonio) and when Kerr was asked about Ferry he told the Contra Costa Times that the Ferry he knew was a quality guy.
“He’s a man of high character, I can tell you that,” Kerr said. “And I feel for him. He did make a mistake. It was a very poor choice of expression. It’s a difficult issue, but it’s one that needs to be discussed.”
“All I can say is with my own relationship with Danny, and I know I’ve got a lot of teammates from all over from San Antonio, Cleveland — it doesn’t matter whether they’re black or white or what race or religion — everybody who knows Danny knows that he’s a good person,” Kerr said. “And it’s just a difficult time for him, and he made a mistake, so hopefully he can get through it. But he’s got our support. It’s about all you can do.”
I still think it’s unlikely Ferry retains his job. The problem is the new owner coming in (Bruce Levenson is selling his shares after a racially controversial email) will need to repair relationships with the Atlanta community, with season ticket holders, and with sponsors. Can he really keep Ferry on and do that?
If it comes to pass Ferry is canned will land on his feet with another NBA job (eventually), he’s too well respected around the league. As you can see from Kerr’s comments.