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Mike Budenholzer Press Conference

The audio of Atlanta Hawks GM Danny Ferry making racially-insentive and offensive comments about then free agent Luol Deng has surfaced. It’s also been reported that Ferry is taking an indefinite leave of absence. Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer will assume basketball operations for the team.

As we previously reported, Hawks co-owner Bruce Levenson is selling his share of the team after racially-insensitive e-mails he sent were made public. Ferry is also under fire for reading a scouting report about Deng in a business meeting. While Ferry reportedly  didn’t write the scouting report, many people found the language offensive. The report referred to Deng, who is Sudanese, as someone who has “a little African in him.” Deng later signed with the Miami Heat.


Listen to the call below:


Deng issued the following statement a few days ago in response to the controversy:


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 do 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.


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