Hawks urged to sink GM Ferry after remarks

Hawks urged to sink GM Ferry after remarks
Luol Deng (9) playing against Toronto Raptors earlier this year.

MIAMI - Africa-born British National Basketball Association star Luol Deng said he was saddened and disappointed over remarks made about him by Atlanta Hawks general manager Danny Ferry that were revealed on Monday.

Mr Ferry issued an apology on Tuesday and said he had only been reading comments from others evaluating Deng as a potential free-agent signing by the Hawks when he made his racially charged remarks during a conference call.

"Concerning my free agency, the focus should purely have been on my professionalism and my ability as an athlete," Deng said in a statement released to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspapers.

"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."

Mr Ferry had said in June that Deng "has a little African in him. Not in a bad way, but he's like a guy who would have a nice store out front, but sell you counterfeit stuff out of the back".

According to a June letter by Hawks co-owner Michael Gearon obtained by Atlanta TV station WSB, Mr Ferry also described Deng as a "two-faced liar and cheat".

Deng, born in what is now South Sudan, played for Britain in the 2012 London Olympics and is known for his off-season humanitarian work.

Mr Gearon pushed for Mr Ferry to be fired in June and sparked an internal investigation on racism within the Hawks organisation that uncovered a 2012 e-mail message with racist remarks by owner Bruce Levenson, who on Sunday announced that he was selling the team as a result.

Magic Johnson - the retired NBA star dragged into the Los Angeles Clippers racism controversy - on Tuesday called for Mr Ferry to be sacked.

Hawks chief executive Steve Koonin has punished Mr Ferry - the exact punishment has not been revealed.

Despite that and Mr Ferry apologising, Johnson wrote on Twitter: "Atlanta Hawks GM Danny Ferry should step down after making racist statements about NBA player Luol Deng...

"The City of Atlanta and the Hawks fans deserve and should demand better from the Hawks leadership."

A photo of Johnson with the former girlfriend of then Clippers owner Donald Sterling led to racist comments from Mr Sterling, which later saw him banished from the NBA for life and the Clippers sold.

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