Ferry’s gone, which is bad. So are these owners, which is good

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

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

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

Danny Ferry, with Bruce Levenson in the background.  (Johnny Crawford/AJC)

Two letters obtained by esteemed colleague Chris Vivlamore tell us all we need to know about the exile and eventual ouster of Danny Ferry as the Atlanta Hawks’ general manager. The first is from Bernard Taylor of the law firm Alston and Bird and absolves Ferry of any “racial, ethnic, or country of origination bias or animus.”

The second is from Todd Foreman, one of the three Washington-based owners of the group that will, thankfully and finally, fade into memory when the sale of the Hawks becomes official Wednesday. Writes Foreman to Ferry: “At the heart of this dispute was the unfortunate disagreement amongst owners.”

Let’s be clear. Ferry did speak/read the unfortunate words about Luol Deng — “he’s got a little African in him” — on a June 2014 conference call with team owners. But what happened afterward proved even rich people aren’t above acting petty. Ferry provided a lever for the Atlanta-based owners (the Michael Gearons Jr. and Sr., plus Rutherford Seydel) to unseat a GM they didn’t like not least because they’d had no hand in his hiring.

Bruce Levenson, head of the D.C. crew, essentially hired Ferry. (Gearon Jr. was out of the country at the time.) Ferry, who rebuilt the Hawks so well and completely that they’d win a franchise-best 60 games, was held up as Levenson’s pride, and that nettled the Gearon crew.

It didn’t help that Ferry was dismissive of Dominique Wilkins, whom the Gearons love, and brusque toward Gearon Sr., himself the GM himself back in the ’70s. But as much as Gearon Jr. might try to characterize the in-house investigation as a function of his longstanding abhorrence of racism, we ask this: Had he been the man who’d hired Ferry, had the Gearons liked Ferry even a little, wouldn’t a quiet word have sufficed?

Instead this became, to use Foreman’s words, another “unfortunate disagreement amongst owners,” and this one spilled into the public domain and wound up toppling the best GM this franchise has ever seen — a GM who, not incidentally, its own investigation found not guilty of racism. The final act of this wretched ownership was to agree to buy out Ferry, and even that yielded no agreement. From Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN: “The franchise’s Atlanta-based partnership voted against the buyout deal, according to sources.”

Of course it did.

Reader Comments 0

65 comments
VeryDisgusted
VeryDisgusted

I have not supported the Hawks or anything in the Phillips Arena since the Thrashers were sabotaged out of town


And as long as the Gearons are around I plan on avoiding anything around the Phillips like the Plague


I am disappointed that the Gearons will still be around


I have nothing aganst the players, coaches, Wilcox, Koonan or anything not involved with the ATL SPirit but I cannot go there to the Phillips till everything with all those owners are excised for good



candlin14
candlin14

Hawks took 10 giant steps forward this year and quickly took 20 Giant steps back wards.... Typical ATL...


But hey, our motto is always "wait until next year".

CheesesteakBob
CheesesteakBob

It is a crime that the Gearons have any stake left in the team.  They are a cancer and will continue to threaten the Hawks success as long as they have as much as a sniff in the team.  Does Dominique still have his share (that was given to him)? He is another that needs to go.  Why does he think everyone needs to kiss his ring just because he could dunk (oh wait he doesn't have a ring).  

ronaldtallon
ronaldtallon

If Ferry had made the statement "I really do not like Romanians" would there have been a problem?   I dont think so.  Or, "Let's stay away from that guy, he has a little bit too much Argentinian blood in him to suit me."   Would that have registered at all?   No.

1337S0lja
1337S0lja

@ronaldtallon The Agendas in this world are divide and conquer schemes meant to make people question what is right and what is wrong. It is an attack on our freedom, our perception of morality. It will continue until we have a one world religion and government (which may also be the religion in itself)

candlin14
candlin14

@ronaldtallon '


Another sad move from another sad Atlanta sports team. I love how we depart ways with good coaches (Mike Smith) and good Gm's (D. Ferry) but we love holding on to the cancer (Mark Richt, Thomas Dimitrioff, Frank Wren (for to long), and Freddie Gonzalez. 


The Hawks were moving in the right direction and now I think we took multiple steps backwards.

Mutley
Mutley

The LOSERVILLE curse strikes again. First DECENT GM in the Atl in decades and what happens the PC police swarm in and it's over, just like that. Weak owners, really did not deserve a mgr of Ferry's caliber. So it's back to business as usual in the Atl, multiple a$$ whoopings. Some things never change.

Big Wally
Big Wally

I'll move on, when little Mikey Gearon is gone.  Gearon must go, Gearon must go, Gearon must go.

chasjons
chasjons

Clean slates are great in theory.  Just ask Arthur Blank how wonderful Jim Mora and Bobby Petrino were relative to the only coach who got us to the Superbowl (Dan Reeves).

chasjons
chasjons

Three clichés come to mind :  "I'd rather be lucky than good", "if it ain't broke don't fix it"  and "timing is everything".   Any group of bozos can make money investing if their timing is good.   I'm worried that the current group of owners do not understand what it is like to watch decades of Hawks basketball without a trip to the finals.   If it were easy to find a solid GM than every team would have a solid GM.   Maybe in 5 years these owners will look back and rethink their decision to get rid of Ferry.  They are still in the honeymoon phase of ownership campaigning for peace on earth. 

Born2Buzz
Born2Buzz

@chasjons The new owners are not involved in any of this.  ATL Spirit group is who has negotiated the buy out and send DF packing. 

Billy Bathgate
Billy Bathgate

Who cares what Stephen A. Smith, Charles Barkley, Andrew Young and whatever other African-American who paraded themselves in front of a camera to defend Danny Ferry says.


It's telling. So many people in these comment sections hate those guys otherwise. 


To all so-called bandwagon fans who are saying they will not support the Hawks since Ferry has been let go ... Good riddance!  You were never a true fan in the first place.  I have supported this team ever since I was a kid, and will continue to do so regardless of the roster, coach, or inept GM.  I wish Coach Bud and GM Wilcox success, and hopefully Ferry can get a fresh start elsewhere.

Billy Bathgate
Billy Bathgate

Anyone who does not realize that Ferry and the Hawks needed to part ways is just not very bright.  I am really surprised by Schultz's and Bradley's take on this incident. I am sure they know Ferry on some personal level and therefore were doing their best to save his job.  However, due to the circumstances, they went overboard in their praise and worship of Ferry.

Billy Bathgate
Billy Bathgate

It's so easy for everyone to discount offensive behavior or comments towards African-Americans.  Had Danny Ferry "read aloud" a scouting report (while chuckling I might add) and repeated Luol Deng "had a little Jew in him", or "had a little gay in him", he would have been fired on the spot!  And rightfully so.  However, since it was directed towards just about another black player, no big deal.  Nothing to see here.

SupremeGrandPoobah
SupremeGrandPoobah

@Billy Bathgate  He didn't say Deng had a little "African American" in him did he?  Why is your first statement twisting the truth to suit your bigotry and hatred?

ChuckinAlpharetta
ChuckinAlpharetta

@Billy Bathgate


Ferry just repeated someone's words off a scouting report - which you technically just did, too.


The irony of you indicting Ferry by doing EXACTLY the same thing he did is dazzling.

Billy Bathgate
Billy Bathgate

So over this Ferry as the second coming garbage. I wish him success on his next endeavor, but he was a mediocre GM at best.  His two crown achievements were finding a sucker to take on Joe Johnson's contract, and hiring his friend, Coach Bud.


His draft picks have been mostly bust (Bebe, Payne, etc.), when there were clearly more talented players still available to be chosen.  The jury is still out on Dennis. The success of the Millsap, Carroll, and Bazemore signings are not because of Ferry's genius.  Those players  success is a result of Coach Bud's great player development programs.


So everyone needs to calm down with crowning Danny Ferry king.



SupremeGrandPoobah
SupremeGrandPoobah

@Billy Bathgate Don't you ever get tired of telling other people what they need to think?  Since when does anyone give a rat's behind what you think?  Ferry is no worse at drafting than Babcock and quantum leaps ahead of Billy Knight.  60 wins is 60 wins.  I want my team to win.  That is what the GM's job is about.  I don't hear you talking about how Chris Paul should be penalized.  His statements were far more bigoted than anything Ferry said.  Stop being a hypocrite,

patriotdog
patriotdog

"Ferry's gone, which is bad". Bradley, you're a worse hypocrite than John 'I voted for it before I voted against it' Kerry. You've been writing for his ouster since this broke.

White Dinosaur
White Dinosaur

If anyone who worked for the AJC knew about the Alston & Bird investigation and the clearance of Ferry prior to this week, he should be fired for not reporting it.  Either the person did not know how to get to the bottom of this or else he was the yes man for  Baby Gearon.


Hopefully it won't take long for the new ownership to learn that Baby Gearon brings no benefit to the Hawks.

Oatdog
Oatdog

Yes, the AJC has done a poor job covering the entire Ferry Saga.  I am sure that this was all known for months and the AJC held off for some reason.  The question is why?  It the AJC allied with the Gearon's? Or Nique?


I have seen an definite agenda with the AJC for months now.  They even leaked the info over time for the current ownership to soften the blow.  Weak and amateurish.


We still don't know the whole story.

-sting-
-sting-

@Oatdog we knew everything except that ferry in all this was for the hiring of deng even after the condemning report he read was spoken. crazy and i am sure for a while df had no idea what had happened as he was for the guy not against him. bottom line, little mikey was offended because whaat he had structured which was sorry df undid in his first week, finalized with the milsap hiring over josh and exposed little mikey. his ego couldnt stand it.


anyway as mikey still around i will not buy a ticket until he is gone after 5 years as a season ticket owner until this spilled out.

GeorgeJetsen
GeorgeJetsen

Only in professional sports could such owner incompetence be rewarded with a 4 fold ROI even after making literally every wrong move possible with its teams, fans, and front office. Safe to say these dolts have seen the end of their run with financially lucrative sports franchises as they are all on the blacklist with the NBA, NHL, NFL, and MLB. Only thing they'd stand a chance at buying is an arena league team. What a bunch of imbeciles.

ChuckinAlpharetta
ChuckinAlpharetta

@GeorgeJetsen


Even in real estate, you can lose your ROI from unapologetic neglect. You are right, only in pro sports can you make every wrong decision, do incredible damage to the loyalty of your customers and still be richly rewarded in the end.

mark513
mark513

You move on, losing Ferry had as much to do with new ownership not wanting to start off having to explain the situation. They wanted a clean slate which was part of the take over. My one hope is that Ressler and company understand that by removing the "distraction" they have left themselves open to a ton of second guessing if Coach Bud and crew can not handle both. Personally as much as I loved what Ferry did, I think all coaches in every league except maybe baseball should have a major hand in shaping their roster. I would imagine that Bud worked with Ferry greatly in signing the players we did, the question now is can they maintain the growth. If it falls apart in the next couple of years Mr. Ressler maybe looking at moving the Hawks to Seattle and then the Spirit Group's mission would be complete. Thanks a F******* lot Michael Gearon Sr & Jr, esp Jr, big ego crybaby shut the f*** up and go away!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

KeeferDS
KeeferDS

@mark513 It's absolutely impossible to have a "clean slate" when Gearon is still part of the ownership group.  The entire thing was a grudge match and half of the parties are still there.  That is in no way a "clean slate."   

Sidslid
Sidslid

Atlanta ownership in the wrong side of everything.  Belkin was right about Joe Johnson.  Ferry and the current rebuilding.  Yet, they still get a stake going forward.  

Chi Ali
Chi Ali

I agree new ownership should have been an 100% sale, but don't look now boys Silver and his cronies in Secaucus are more worried about international growth and what lux they will eat for lunch.  I sent a proposal to manage the NBA store in Manhattan actually meet with Stern low level assistant and this idiot is talking about hiring women to bring in the female fan, so terrible governance is a problem league wide (backstory being totally transparent with no racism, their was rumbling about Silver or having back to back jewish Commissioner is a majority black league).  The hawks made a big mistake in letting Ferry go, I'm African and didn't find his comments offensive because unlike the typical sports fan I remember Ferry battling with Brad Daughtery against MJ, if a guy is racist he doesn't last this long in the league develop the contacts he develops, its like when pundits label KJ as an idiot buffoon, if hes such a clown how did he get the base to be a mayor.  Anyway I'm sure NBA exec troll the comments so my great suggestion ..cap ownership at 10% and above..no more Jay-Z owning .00001% of a team, you can't write the checks stay in the stands.  The new owners are pretty smart like I said this town can only move in two directions.

afx
afx

@Chi Ali  hey African it seems to me you want this opportunity to jump you anti-Semitic view here it is not about Silver, who from very beginning been against Ferry firing, what it has to do with Stern, he retired long ago. you even could move to Africa, because a lot of smart Jewish people contributing here, and in Africa you free of them.

58Supersports
58Supersports

Gearon most hate man in Atlanta... What goes around comes around, no need to say more.

TruTecher
TruTecher

When former Mayor Andrew Young gave him a clean bill of health, that should have provided ALL of the impetus necessary to keep him. Instead, the Hawks just threw out the guy who has put together the most successful season in Hawks history. 


So now it's back to mediocrity.

hardworkinman
hardworkinman

My biggest question remains: Why did the media not demand to know who wrote the words that Ferry was quoting in the scouting report?????? Never even an investigation to try and find out. Ferry took the full brunt of the whole mess even though it was someone else that wrote the words.

MannyThinks
MannyThinks

http://www.ajc.com/news/sports/basketball/breaking-news-100-percent-of-hawks-up-for-sale/njfLd/


If these were politicians it wouldn't surprise me. How is it that a 100% sale keeps some of the old owners. By the details of Bradley's story, it keeps the guys most likely to stir up crap.


When the Boston guy had to go over the Joe Johnson foolishness, it wasn't the Atlanta crew that stepped up to buy him out. That's how the DC crew got more power.


It's a shame that they were so dysfunctional that the best GM we had (since the early 80s?) had to get caught up in a millionaire p*ss off. I hope we are successful moving forward, but I do remember a long, long line of marginal draft picks. . 

ImaNitwit
ImaNitwit

Much ado about nothing. The Hawks are a one season wonder. Sub .500 record next year, no playoffs and the arena will be half empty again.

The-Truth
The-Truth

" Had he been the man who’d hired Ferry, had the Gearons liked Ferry even a little, wouldn’t a quiet word have sufficed?"

Mark, during this whole ordeal, you were lobbying for the dismissal of Danny Ferry and now that it is done, you are spinning him as the victim. This only shows you'll do or say anything to get attention. In addition to the demised ASG, you (yourself) epitomize what is wrong with Atlanta as a sport town. Your flip flopping "Jerry Springer" style is another example supporting Josh Smith negative comments about Atlanta being a town of "fickle and bandwagoners".

So while you are kicking out the old ownership group and hyping up the new (as bandwagoners are doing), we shall see own long that last.

WW5
WW5

if these clowns thought they had cause, why did they buy out ferry?  why not just fire him??

pride
pride

The team should be boycotted by the fans of Atlanta so long as anyone named Gearon owns any part of the team.

Curious_George
Curious_George

As long as that sniveling shrimp Gearon remains part of the Hawks ownership group in ANY capacity, no matter how small, won't that ownership group continue to remain perpetually TAINTED for Thrashers fans & season ticket holds who were stabbed in the back by that particular "humanoid" thing?




Peachs
Peachs

When you need a lesson in why Atlanta cannot field winning teams this should be course 101.  The best run team in Atlanta is the Braves, it has mature leadership in it's ownership.  I think TM as chairman is grossly underrated he has been there the whole time, and Terry wouldn't put up with the immaturity. He has a self made academic and managerial background not a trust fund baby a grown man dealing with grown problem, a self made man.


The press should have done a better job of telling this story.  They left Ferry to twist in the wind.  Any person with common sense could tell what was going on. There has always been too much siding with DW or Josh Smith ignoring the character flaws, and Ferry looking to fix this was the problem.   

mark513
mark513

@Peachs Your wrong about the Braves they are part of the ownership problem too, they allow the worst manager in baseball to continue to run the team into the ground. They keep Schuerholz around when he allowed the team to devolve into an average team at best. I will credit the move of promoting John Hart and allowing him to truly remake the team into what looks like a very bright future, but they still have financial constraints which will not allow them to go after the top tier talent and they reside in Colorado and could care less about the team. 

Afraid To Lose
Afraid To Lose

Finally we get to the end and find out the TRUTH - what a sad commentary on us, Atlanta, allowing one BULLY like Gearon to ruin a good man, a good GM, and a good team -- You would think that in the modern-day south we would be smart enough to smell a rat like Gearon.  Alston and Bird go through over 24,000 documents, all DF's email, and then exonerate Ferry -- so Viviamore has gotten to the bottom of it - and it is just plain sad.  So, for those of us who would want Alston and Bird to go through ALL of our e-mails, those who live in glass houses, cast the first stone.  Atlanta, we are better than this - and our media should have insisted on knowing about these facts before Gearon had a chance to enact his evil plan -- Gearon seems like that guy who never got what he wanted - now he has money and thinks he can rule the world.  Sad, sad man.  

SupremeGrandPoobah
SupremeGrandPoobah

The biggest travesty of all is that Gearon will remain as part of the new ownership group.  I cannot imagine why the new group would allow him to remain.  Should we expect more of the same from Gearon in the future?  Probably so.  Watch your backside Coach Bud

Remarkable3
Remarkable3

Mark,  If Ferry is going to be missed so much, why didn't you even once say that they should keep him?  He read a scouting report at a closed meeting, that's all.  He didn't shoot up a church.  He will probably get hired by a future National Championship team and it's a shame that can't be in Atlanta.  I wonder how people would look at our coaching staff if they hadn't had the team he put together?  I wonder how much anyone would've paid for this team.  I wonder how much it will be worth in a couple of years too?  

Adam007
Adam007

@Remarkable3 I believe Mark Bradley actually supported Ferry several times but admitted that the new management would not

escapeplan
escapeplan

For the most part, these guys never should have owned this team to begin with.  None of them had the financial means to own the team outright, but they cobbled together an unholy alliance of idiots who together could stroke the checks to buy the team.  I don't think they ever got along, and never had a clue.  


They walk away with double their investment (or more?) and have left our town in tatters.  We lost a hockey team because of them, and almost lost the Hawks as well.


My message to all Atlanta sports fans (and anyone with civic pride, actually).  If you see any of these guys on the streets of Atlanta, Boston, or DC, boo them as loudly as you can.  They probably won't hear you (they never have), but maybe it'll make you feel a bit better. If their hometowns get bitter enough, maybe we can force them all to move to the islands and out of our lives.