Tuesday's news for Danny Ferry was definitely better than Monday, starting with the Hawks deciding not to fire him. And Wayne Embry, who was GM when Ferry played there - he drafted him we believe - came to his defense, saying that "I've observed Danny Ferry and his family for many years and I can say Danny Ferry is not a racist. I don't know all the circumstances, but in the capacity of a president or general manager, you have to do your due diligence on players. It is a responsible way to act."
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Agent Bill Duffy, also an African-American, said this: "I know Danny very well and we've always had high-quality interactions. He's been involved in pro basketball his entire life and I've been shown nothing but respect in my dealings with him. He's always been of good character and I have admired him over the years."
This was of course into response to the reported comments about Luol Deng. Deng, universally lauded as one of the finest people in the NBA, weighed in as well with this statement:
" 'HE HAS A LITTLE AFRICAN IN HIM'
"These words were recently used to describe me. It would ordinarily make any African parent proud to hear their child recognized for their heritage.
"I'm proud to say I actually have a lot of African in me, not just 'a little.' For my entire life, my identity has been a source of pride and strength. Among my family and friends, in my country of South Sudan and across the broader continent of Africa, I can think of no greater privilege than to do what I love for a living while also representing my heritage on the highest stage. Unfortunately, the comment about my heritage was not made with the same respect and appreciation.
"Concerning my free agency, the focus should purely have been on my professionalism and my ability as an athlete. Every person should have the right to be treated with respect and evaluated as an individual, rather than be reduced to a stereotype. I am saddened and disappointed that this way of thinking still exists today. I am even more disturbed that it was shared so freely in a business setting.
"However, there is comfort in knowing that there are people who aren't comfortable with it and have the courage to speak up. In the same way a generalization should not define a group of people, the attitude of a few should not define a whole organization or league.
"Ultimately, I'm thankful to be with an organization that appreciates me for who I am and has gone out of its way to make me feel welcome."
It would probably be appropriate to remember here that Ferry is being ripped not for what he thought but for reading a scout's comments without skipping over the inflammatory parts.
In other words, while it's fair to accuse him of stupidity and insensitivity in this case, this entire situation arose because Ferry read comments written by an Atlanta scout.
We live in a time when what someone says is often worse than what someone does. Just look around the league:
Greg Oden, 7-0 and 273, was arrested in August for punching his girlfriend in the face.
Also in August, Boston Celtics Vitor Faverani ran a redlight and rammed a bus. He was arrested for drunk driving; his blood alcohol level was three times the Spanish limit.
In May, PJ Tucker was arrested with a blood alcohol level of .222 (a couple of months later he re-signed with Phoenix).
In June, James Johnson slapped and choked his wife.
In April, Dante Cunningham attempted to strangle his girlfriend, slammed her against a wall, then violated a restraining order and sent her threatening texts.
In 2013, Kendrick Perkins had a minor accident and in the altercation which followed, punched a male and female in the other car.
In 2013, Jared Sullinger was charged with assault and battery, malicious destruction of property and intimidation of a witness.
The witness was his girlfriend who started to leave after discovering an affair via his cell phone. Sullinger was accused of assault.
All of these players are still in good standing with the NBA.
Yet Ferry is supposed to be run out of town and not even for his own words but for someone else's?
We would certainly agree that he was stupid to have read the ugly parts of that analysis. Atlanta has correctly disciplined him (although the Hawks declined to say what that discipline entailed).
It's fair to question Ferry's judgment and to punish him for that, but classifying him as a racist for what someone else wrote is grossly unfair.
Ferry also issued a statement. Here it is:
"In regards to the insensitive remarks that were used during our due diligence process, I was repeating comments that were gathered from numerous sources during background conversations and scouting about different players. I repeated those comments during a telephone conversation reviewing the draft and free agency process. Those words do not reflect my views, or words that I would use to describe an individual and I certainly regret it. I apologize to those I offended and to Luol [Deng], who I reached out to Monday morning.
In terms of the email that Bruce sent, the situation is disturbing and disappointing on many levels and I understand Bruce’s words were offensive.
I am committed to learning from this and deeply regret this situation. I fully understand we have work to do in order to help us create a better organization; one that our players and fans will be proud of, on and off the court, and that is where my focus is moving forward."