Tim Duncan says Danny Ferry made a mistake, is not a racist

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There’s a steady refrain from the people who have worked with and know Hawks GM Danny Ferry — he made a big mistake but he’s not a racist.

You can add Tim Duncan to that chorus.

Ferry is currently on leave from the Atlanta Hawks organization following the backlash from a conference call with ownership were he paraphrased a scouting report on free agent Luol Deng that said he “has a little African in him” and used that as a synonym for being two faced. That led a lot of people to question Ferry, who has apologized multiple times.

Duncan said San Antonio sports radio ESPN 1250 that is not the Ferry he played with and knew from the Spurs organization (hat tip to Eye on Basketball).

Was this Duncan’s seemingly once annual radio appearance?

Even if it was a one-time thing, I’m not sure it can save Ferry’s job at this point (although it is all tied into the infighting and power grabs within the Hawks organization that has long held the franchise back).

The fact is that discussions are already with new potential majority owners of the team — currently lead owner Bruce Levenson (who had his own race issue in an email) and other minority owners will be selling enough to give someone majority control of the franchise — and that new person will need to make changes. That owner has to repair relationships with season ticket holders, sponsors and others around Atlanta. Can he really still do that with Ferry employed?

If you want to try and debate this was a one time mistake and that shouldn’t lead to a person getting fired you can make that case — Commissioner Adam Silver basically did. Doesn’t matter if other forces are overwhelming.

But it all falls in the hands of whoever becomes the new owner. Duncan can say what he thinks, but it’s not his call.