Danny Ferry has no shortage of people who’ve vouched for him:
- Adam Silver
- Masai Ujiri
- Billy King
- Luol Deng (at least according to Kyle Korver)
- Steve Kerr
- Adam Silver again
- Magic Johnson
- Tim Duncan
Add Hawks coach and acting general manager Mike Budenholzer to the list.
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.