The Levenson part was bad. Is the Ferry part worse?

Bruce Levenson is leaving. Can Danny Ferry possibly stay? (Johnny Crawford/AJC)

Danny Ferry speaks. Bruce Levenson listens. (Johnny Crawford/AJC)

Danny Ferry speaks. Bruce Levenson listens. (Johnny Crawford/AJC)

It would be one thing — and not in any way a good thing, we stress — if the Atlanta Hawks’ latest howler could be written off as another in a series of missteps by an infamous band of owners. But, as esteemed colleague Chris Vivlamore has reported, there’s more to this than one Bruce Levenson email. There’s also the Danny Ferry component.

Hawks CEO Steve Koonin revealed to Vivlamore that Ferry, the general manager, used what Koonin described as an “offensive and racist” remark in the discussion of a free agent. (I can confirm that the player in question was Luol Deng.) According to Koonin, Ferry was reading from a background report. “Instead of editing it,” Koonin said, “he said the comment.”

Vivlamore reports that Ferry, speaking of Deng, read this aloud: “He’s a good guy overall. But he is not perfect. He’s got some African in him. And I don’t say that in a bad way.”

Koonin said that Ferry will be disciplined, though the Hawks haven’t disclosed the parameters of that discipline. But the greater punishment could be the damage inflicted on the franchise Ferry is trying to rebuild.

Levenson is selling his share of the team, which means he’s going back to D.C., presumably never to been seen in these parts again. Apparently Ferry will keep his job. If so, the Hawks will have put themselves in the position of having their basketball operations run by a man whom they themselves have found to have been, at least in one basketball-related instance, racially insensitive.

As is the case with most industries, the NBA is a gabby place. Within hours of TMZ’s posting of the Donald Sterling tapes, half the league — players, coaches, owners — were trading other Sterling horror stories. If you’re the Hawks and you’ve staked the future of your organization to Ferry’s credibility, how do you feel today? How confident are you that this GM can convince a big-ticket free agent to come play for his team?

Vivlamore writes that protests from others in the ownership group over Ferry’s comments prompted the in-house investigation that eventually brought Levenson’s 2012 email to light. In other words, this didn’t start with an owner who’s leaving. It started with the general manager on whom so much responsibility has been placed — and who remains in place.

Reader Comments 1

152 comments
TimDawg4260
TimDawg4260

The press got it right all involved should be brought to light !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

theoriginaltruth
theoriginaltruth

What is worse.....Bradley or Schultz ?.....neither, they're both idiots...

DixieRoss
DixieRoss

Hey, white guy executives, I've got an idea!  Why not hire a black guy to figure out how to get white people back in the stands.  Then when emails come up like this, it looks perfectly normal.  Just sayin'. 

Infraredguy
Infraredguy

The answer to the Hawks attendance problems is to lobby John Lewis to introduce a bill in Congress to have tickets included with the monthly EBT cards.

BobDawg
BobDawg

Maybe the NBA will move the Hawks to Seattle. They are begging for a franchise and Stern stiffed them with the Sacremento deal…. They need to move on now… 

BIGDAWG31650
BIGDAWG31650

No story here just a reporter filling his quota and doing his best to fan the flames as we see happening over and over in today's media.  Whatever happened to reporters who actually reported fairly with no slant to their stories?  Far to often today we are inundated with headlines and stories that drive readers to reporter's blogs.  Guess the simple truth is just to boring today and it is to easy to try to assassinate one's character to get readers.  Ferry was reading a report, maybe he should have stopped when he got to the part in question maybe not but in no way do I or any sane person see his role as promoting racism in any way.

iseestupidpeople
iseestupidpeople

With all the penalties for the exercise of free speech you would think that the press would be approaching this issue with some caution, I mean we are talking about free speech right ? Wouldn't the press have an interest in promoting the exercise thereof ?

SamDawg
SamDawg

I think it comes down to this.  Don't say anything that can be recorded, copied, forwarded, put on disk, something that TMZ may want, etc...everyone is watching and listening. 

lkjlkjadsf
lkjlkjadsf

maybe it's the cynic in me, but I think this entire thing was orchestrated by Levenson himself after seeing how much people were talking about paying to get Sterling out of the league.  He saw this as his chance.  He's wanted out for a while, that's clear.  


I doubt his sincerity.  I suspect he's thinking, "I'll take a PR hit, but I've got to strike now to maximize what I can get."  Good thing they still had that old email around.  If Sterling hadn't happened, neither would this.

kenstallings
kenstallings

Having just read Levenson's email in question, I have to say that the email was his attempt at writing a blunt honest internal eyes only email talking about the marketing troubles that face the Hawks.  If anything, if people in the Atlanta area are going to feel offended by his email, it should be white people living in the Atlanta area as Levenson's email was a pretty scathing description of white people in Atlanta not wanting to attend sporting events with black people.  If that is true, then that is a very sad indictment of the state of mind of white people living in the Atlanta area.


I think what Danny Ferry wrote is actually worse.  


The Hawks are a team in serious trouble.  If what Levenson wrote is true, and the Hawks have certainly been struggling with low attendance and fan revenues, then things have really changed since I last lived in the Atlanta area in 1997.  When my wife and I went to Hawks games we had a great time.  We did not feel any degree of trepidation traveling to and from the Omni nor being at the game itself.  


I don't think Levenson would care if 100% of the Hawks' fans were black provided they could financially keep the team at the level needed to compete in the league.  He's just desperately trying to do what he think might help the situation with fan attendance numbers and revenues.

TreeRollins
TreeRollins

if the Braves want to move to Cobb County - let them. If the Hwaks want to hire a white coach -let them.

If Levenson would like a few more middle age white guys and their sons at the games - so be it. Get rid of the whole hip hop thing and hire a couple of white cheerleaders. Will this racial stuff ever just go away? Sterling was getting annual awards from the NAACP until his comments were made public.

Black multi-million $ basketball players are not oppressed! Get over yourselves.

TreeRollins
TreeRollins

I'm really getting sick of the racist stuff. Blacks were oppressed 50 years ago and earlier. It's over now. We have a black president. I am very scared to say he has an African heritage. I might get burned at the stake.

Grow up people!

TPC
TPC

Excuse me, but isn't Deng African? Am I missing something here? Simply because you state that someone is African that makes you a racist? If I said someone was European would that make me a racist? How about, "he's got a little Asian, Australian, South American, Canadian in him. Let's get real. We have become down right silly with this racist crap. Here's a news flash for all of us. Some people were born in other countries, have different cultures,  and are of different races. Wow, what a deep insight that was! 

TrueFan1
TrueFan1

nobody's got any balls anymore

TrueFan1
TrueFan1

Mark your a reporter . answer the question that's what your paid for...."is he being punished for reading a report aloud that he didn't even write?"    really really!?

caneowar
caneowar

Wow I'm amidst. Didn't see this one coming at all. Some old fella, Hutchins I think his name is. Well Hutchins is getting his gang together and they are going to try and confront Hawks ownership and bully them into taking jobs away from them crackers and give them to minorities. I'm confused. Most of the players are black, the coach is black and from what I've heard, all the cheer leaders are black. I suppose he wants the Hawk origination to be totally black. Actually I agree with Hutchins. Minorities should have more jobs in the Hawks organization. If I'm not mistaken, whites are the minority in Atlanta.



My point in this post. My point is this. This BS is pointless.

Stinger2
Stinger2

I am not stating an opinion but making an observation or statement that is factual:

Some African people are white. So the scout could have been pointing that out to be

a factor is his overall ability as a player.

Domina8r
Domina8r

I say take the Hawks and .........

WhiskeyBreath
WhiskeyBreath

Brad, you know timing is everything. Levenson wants to sell after seeing Sterlings 2 billion dollar deal.

First of all, how the hell do you know what Ferry said or wrote to be true? The CEO throws a balloon up in the air and you catch it, right. Notice Danny gets to keep his job after his so called "racism".  

It is about Levenson cashing the Hawks in and getting paid.

Plain and simple. 

Don't trash Danny , not sure he deserves it. 

Everybody wants to suck up to rich guys, why??

I hope it was worth it. Shame on you for trashing Danny. 

Go suck up to Arthur like the rest of the media. 

CasualObserver
CasualObserver

It seems to me that the everyone, including Levenson, jumped all over Sterling's remarks and the reaction was swift and universally negative.  Now come remakrs from two years ago that could be constured as similar in nature.  Why was nothing done at the time?  Surely the executives he addressed the memo to knew how bad the remarks were, didn't they?  

SamDawg
SamDawg

I think the fire is lit.  Doesn't matter these days the intent of what you say..it's the perception.  We'll see what happens.

Rick_James
Rick_James

The Hawks already had problems attracting free agents. This situation just compounded that problem. 

crackbaby
crackbaby

Wait a minute, he was READING ALOUD from a report written by others!?!


What is the issue?  Am I missing something here?  Is he being disciplined because he chose to read the report (instead of not revealing it)?


A little help, please...

tyger
tyger

It's the Economy stupid...


I mentioned this yesterday...
Turner just announced layoffs, buyouts...
Worst economy since Depression...

Owner hates Nggas...
Coach gets DUI 1st day on job...
GM calls players "spear chuckers"...

And this Fool mad b/c nobody buys...
Kyle Korver and Paul Millsap jerseys...

WTF is going on around here????

caneowar
caneowar

So if a white man say's anything about  black folk. They are labeled a racist. People I hate to break your heart, but everybody is a racist. If you say you aren't, you'd be a liar. If god came to you and told you that he was going to end all life on earth except for one race and he would allow you to choose what race you wanted to save. Tell me a lie and say you wouldn't choose your own race.


This BS about Ferry is total crap and the only reason the owners did anything to Ferry was to please the league and dare I say who else?

TreeRollins
TreeRollins

Somebody's finally using some intelligence. Let's get Snoop Dogg to bring in the whitey!

TreeRollins
TreeRollins

Your shipping container sucks - hope we can just get along :-)

PeachtreeBart
PeachtreeBart

@BobDawg Plenty of us have followed and supported the Hawks for decades and don't appreciate your suggestion.  You must not really like the NBA or Atlanta.   Why don't you move to Seattle??

DawgnIT
DawgnIT

@iseestupidpeople You think it's a free speech issue when the GM of a professional sports team is hesitant to sign a veteran player who would immediately be one of the best on the roster because "he's got some African in him"?  Sounds like text book discrimination in an employment situation to me when the person in power is documented as saying such.


The most amusing thing about all of this is that Boston, the once proud "white" team in the NBA was totally fine with building their last championship team with black stars yet Atlanta has reservations about signing part-African players and non-white cheerleaders while attempting to rise above mediocrity.

SamDawg
SamDawg

@iseestupidpeople  The press has a job to do, which includes fanning the fire to make a story bigger than it is. 



TheRealJay
TheRealJay

@kenstallings That's the problem with Levenson's comments. They are so off based they are the brink of being totally ridiculous. He writes the email as if they have produced a good product and still no one is attending. He writes the email as if the ownership group didn't take each other to court over signing a role player to a max deal. He went right to stereotypes as the reason they aren't making money.

BIGDAWG31650
BIGDAWG31650

@kenstallings Danny Ferry didn't write anything, he was reading a scouting report in a meeting written by a third party.  This has been reported multiple times by different sources today.  Get your facts straight.

kenstallings
kenstallings

Actually, I just read Jeff Schultz' column.  Based on the Falcon's game yesterday, thankfully it looks like things have not changed in Atlanta from when my family lived there.  Folks still have that southern hospitality thing going strong and it doesn't matter what race one is, that southern hospitality and polite manners still are strong.


Glad to hear that!  Makes me yearn to return.

TheRealJay
TheRealJay

@TPC No one said he was racist for the comment so your argument is pointless. And the statement was not that he is African. The statement was he has some African in him.  More importantly the statement was he's not perfect, he's got some African in him.  Now I'm sure you know nothing about Human Resources, hiring or recruiting employees, but there is so much wrong(legally) with Ferry's comment I can't even begin to explain it to you.

TheRealJay
TheRealJay

@TrueFan1 You guys crack me up. This man is a General Manager for an organization worth 100's of millions of dollars.  His own bosses were offended by what he said. Let me repeat, his own bosses were offended by what he said. Now please continue giving this grown man who is a General Manager a pass because he blindly(or not) read a report out loud that he didn't even write. Give me a flippin break. Does any one on this blog actually work for real companies?

TheRealJay
TheRealJay

@Stinger2 Doesn't matter what he meant. It has no bearing. If you were applying for a job and part of the decision making process was what ethnicity "you have in you" I can imagine you would think that really is not a fair way to judge you as a potential candidate. Luol Deng has played basketball a long time.  It should be pretty easy to make a judgement to sign him based on his basketball credentials and health.

BooBooBear
BooBooBear

@caneowar At least Ferry didn't beat a black girl up at the bus stop because she was "acting too white."

PeachtreeBart
PeachtreeBart

@DawgnIT @iseestupidpeople Though it sounds terrible in print, it may have alluded to cultural rather than racial differences.  Africa is, after all, a continent full of various individual cultures and should not be confused with the U.S. or the African American community  Commenting on characteristics common to a foreigner's nationality should not be confused with racism towards a US citizen.  If you have ever lived abroad, you would understand this better.  An American could comment on an Italian from Italy and imply his cultural habits seem strange or confusing without it reflecting one bit on a long-term Italian-American.  Now I may be wrong, and maybe it was indeed a racist comment, but sometimes we need to get the real story before we condemn someone--much less someone who just read something out loud.  It's important to stamp out racism but also important to stamp out witch hunts.  

PeachtreeBart
PeachtreeBart

@SamDawg @iseestupidpeople It's hard to come up with a blog topic every single day, sometimes twice per day.  Race sells like no other topic and is the easiest to blow up.  Basically, the media has become high school.  Any topic more fitting for lunchroom gossip with a friend gets inflated to national news.  

PeachtreeBart
PeachtreeBart

@Infraredguy Yeah, a man worth $500 million already needs to ruin his reputation forever and be berated as a racist by the national media just so he can sell a team that would have sold anyway.  Great logic, guys.   

PeachtreeBart
PeachtreeBart

@TheRealJay @TrueFan1 More likely they don't like Ferry for some interpersonal reason, including that he's Levenson's man.   This could have been their only way to get rid of Ferry---he has been dong a good job.  Having too many owners never works.

caneowar
caneowar

@BooBooBear @caneowar  Yea kinda like OJ not killing that white girl and white boy. Suppose we could go back and forth with this. But like slydawg posted. What's the use. I don't live a life of hatred for any peoples pigmentation. I live by the golden rule. I will treat you the way you treat me.


Slydawg my point was this whole mess has much to do about nothing.

slydawg
slydawg

And your point is?...... Idiots and evil come in all shapes, sizes, and colors.

GTRay
GTRay

@PeachtreeBart 

You took the words right out of my mouth.  It makes absolutely no sense that he would deliberately create a situation that would (1) reflect negatively on himself and (2) likely negatively impact the value of the franchise (thus earning him less $$$ if he sold it).  And that he planned and orchestrated all this back in 2012?  Incredible what some people will believe.

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