A classy move from a classy GM.
As you may have heard, the Atlanta Hawks are wrapped up in a bit of a controversy, stemming mostly from racist sentiments asserted by a two members of their front office.
First, an email sent by part-owner Bruce Levenson, containing various racially insensitive comments regarding African-Americans, was released. He has since agreed to sell the team.
A day later, a report surfaced concerning Hawks GM Danny Ferry, in which he said the following to describe then free-agent Luol Deng (now a member of the Miami Heat).
He’s a good guy overall, but he’s not perfect. He’s got some African in him, and I don’t say that in a bad way other than he’s a guy who would have a nice store out front but sell you counterfeit stuff out of the back.
Ferry and the Hawks have since apologized for the incident, and he has been reprimanded, though he will remain the GM of the Hawks for the time being.
On Thursday, Raptors GM Masai Ujiri — who is of African descent — responded to Ferry’s comments in a story for the Globe and Mail. Follow the link to read his words in its entirety. Listed below is an excerpt.
When I first heard it, I wondered, “What does that mean?” I am an African from Nigeria. Luol is an African from South Sudan. We’ve worked together across our home continent, holding our own basketball camps, as well as in those organized by the NBA.
I remember an instance, in Kigali, Rwanda, when Luol honoured a commitment to show up despite being seriously ill. He didn’t want to disappoint any of the children who were expecting him.
Is that “a little bit of African”?
I have no idea what is happening in the Atlanta Hawks organization, but I do know how the scouting world works. We all have different ways of sharing information about players and different vocabularies to do so. It crossed a line here.
That said, we are all human. We are all vulnerable. We all make mistakes.
You discover a person’s true character in their ability to learn from and then move on from those mistakes. One of the truly important things we must learn is how to forgive.