Over the weekend, the Hawks finally completed a long-in-the-works buyout agreement with disgraced GM Danny Ferry. Last fall, racially insensitive comments about Luol Deng’s African heritage made by Ferry during a free agency meeting surfaced, and Ferry was placed on an indefinite leave of absence. Now, after the most successful season in Hawks franchise history, he’s out, and the apology tour begins.
“I made a mistake,” Ferry told USA Today‘s Jeff Zillgitt. “I take full responsibility for that.”
Also in the interview, Ferry touched on the conversation he had with Deng in the aftermath of the comments:
The most difficult parts were early on. The conversation with Luol was difficult but he made it easy – his forgiveness and his dignity were unbelievably generous.
Calling someone like (NBA vice president for development in Africa) Amadou Gallo Fall, who works for the NBA and has used the NBA as a platform to help so many in Africa, that was a hard call.
Sitting down with my kids when all this was going to break and the fear and uncertainty of what was possibly coming for all of us, especially them, and then lastly, just the frustration. I wanted the information out there from the Bernard Taylor letter and the length it took to get to that.
An investigation by the law firm Alston and Bird recently found that Ferry’s comments were not motivated by racial bias, as he was reading off a scouting report for Deng provided to him by another team. But listening to the recording, it’s pretty jarring the way he treats the “He has a little African in him” and “He may be selling some counterfeit goods” parts as completely normal.
Ferry will probably find another job eventually, once enough time passes that people forget about this incident. That’s the way this stuff usually works.