The Atlanta Hawks made the news over the weekend when the team’s controlling owner admitted that he wrote an email in 2012 about how to favor white fans over black ones. (While that owner, Bruce Levenson, announced that he’ll be selling his stake in the team, Slate’s Robert Weintraub writes that problems between Atlanta sports teams and black fans are much bigger than any one person.) Late Monday night, news broke that the team’s general manager, Danny Ferry, had said disparagingly on a conference call that Sudan-born player Luol Deng “has a little African in him.” Today, veteran NBA reporter Adrian Wojnarowski has a story about the Hawks that details more of Ferry’s comments. One takeaway is that Ferry—who says his remarks were meant to paraphrase others’ views, which is a weird “defense” given that it still means he was repeating racist remarks in the workplace—meant to define “African” to mean sneaky and two-faced:
On Deng, Ferry said: “… For example, he can come out and be an unnamed source for a story and two days later come out and say, ‘That absolutely was not me. I can’t believe someone said that.’
“But talking to reporters, you know they can [believe it].”
Ferry kept going on Deng: “… Good guy in Chicago. They will tell you he was good for their culture, but not a culture setter. He played hard and all those things, but he was very worried about his bobble-head being the last one given away that year, or there was not enough stuff of him in the [team] store … kind of a complex guy.”
Wojnarowski’s piece also notes that team part-owner Michael Gearon, whose internal complaints about Ferry’s remarks became public Monday, was apparently a longtime enemy of the GM’s—and that Gearon never registered any internal complaint about Levenson’s more extensively inappropriate 2012 email despite having acknowledged receiving it. Gearon’s complaints about Ferry reportedly led to the investigation, conducted by a law firm at the Hawks’ request, that brought Levenson’s problematic email to light.