If you haven't been following the situation in Atlanta, here's a quick refresher: Hawks owner Bruce Levenson announced last weekend he would be selling the team because of a racist e-mail that he self reported to the NBA.
Since then, other details have emerged including an audio clip of Danny Ferry talking about Luol Deng on a conference call with the ownership group earlier this summer, in which he said Deng had "a little African in him", among other things.
Here's a comprehensive timeline of all the events we know about so far. Deng issued his own statement this week and Ferry is still the general manager of the team at the moment.
Yesterday, Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri published an op-ed in The Globe and Mail addressing the Ferry's comments. We're excerpting a portion of it below, but you should read it in full here. This is, of course, not the first time Ujiri has written an op-ed. Earlier this year, he addressed the situation in which nearly 300 girls were kidnapped from a school in northern Nigeria.
This is not the right time -- and there's probably never one -- to puff our chests so to say and be blessed that we have someone like Ujiri running our team. But that's exactly how I feel. And from a big picture perspective, it's huge for Ferry that another executive -- and someone like Ujiri, who is African -- has shown understanding and compassion like this. Whether Ferry ends up keeping his job is up in the air, but what's more important is that the league continues to work towards getting to a better place collectively.
Here's the excerpt. Again, you can read Ujiri's piece in its entirety here.
So when I heard what he’d said, I was taken aback.
I reached out to a couple of people who know Danny well. Both have been great mentors for me.
R.C. Buford is the GM of the San Antonio Spurs. He was one of the first NBA executives to come to our Basketball Without Borders camps a decade ago. That same year, he adopted a young man from Cameroon. Wayne Embry is an adviser for our team. Forty years ago, he was the first African-American GM of an NBA team.
Both of these men, whom I trust so much, are close to Danny. They have nothing but great things to say about him. The league is a small world. Other people I’ve spoken to who know Danny well say that he has never done anything they’ve seen to suggest he holds racist views.
I spoke to Danny myself about this. He started off by apologizing to Luol. He apologized to me and apologized for any insult he’d offered to African people in general. He explained the incident as best he could to me. There are some things about that conversation I would like to keep between the two of us, but I came away feeling like I’d understood what he had to say.
Here is what I have to say:
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.
Danny’s mistake will remain tied to him for a long time. What he’s said can’t be unsaid, but we must measure his heart. If he has made an honest, isolated error, we should forgive and move on.