Poisoned Waters: Danny Ferry Must Go


May 29, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks general manager Danny Ferry and new head coach Mike Budenholzer take questions from the media during a press conference at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Whether you think Danny Ferry was wrong for choosing to use a racially insensitive part of a scouting report in a June conference call when discussing Luol Deng or not, it is time for him to go.

If you’ve been consumed by Ray Rice, Roger Goodell, and a domestic abuse shouting match, chances are you could be missing one of the biggest scandals the NBA will ever have to face.

First, Atlanta Hawks owner Bruce Levenson announced that he would be selling his stake in the team after a 2012 email that contained racist comments was revealed. In the email, Levenson was addressing his concerns about team attendance, and basically he came to the conclusion that the games and arena featured too many “blacks”.

Now, Levenson is on his way out, but that isn’t the end of this saga. Not by a long shot.

It was later revealed that Hawks GM Danny Ferry used racially insensitive words to describe Luol Deng in a conference call with the owners of the franchise. Minority owner Michael Gearon Jr. was so offended (or so he says) by the comments that he launched an investigation that led him to the 2012 Levenson email.

Ferry released a statement stating that he was simply reading from an outside scouting report, and he regretted his decision to include the comments.

Then, all hell broke lose.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports obtained a transcript of the call, and reported that he wasn’t reading a report verbatim, and the comments were either his own, or he implied that he agreed with them. After that, all pundits, fans, and most former players were calling for his head.

To make matters worse for Ferry, the AJC obtained the audio from the call, and that only backed up Woj’s report. It sure sounded like those words were Ferry’s.

On Friday, the AJC and WSB-TV acquired the scouting report, and although the words didn’t match up completely with what was said on the call, the report did have something about his African descent on it.

So Ferry’s all clear, right?


Whether they were his words or not is irrelevant. The fact that he was not repeating the report word for word shows that he had read it before the call. For reasons only known to Danny Ferry, he thought it was necessary to share the information. As the general manager of an NBA franchise, it is his responsibility to present information about players and everything else in a respectful and mature manner.

He lacked judgement in that regard, and it may cost him his job.

Ferry and the team announced that he would be taking an indefinite leave of absence, and Ferry said he would be spending time trying to rectify the situation. Although the fact that the scouting report did feature some racial comments saves him from a little bit of blame,  but he is still in hot water.

In order to get clear of this nightmare, it is time for Ferry and everyone involved to go.

The water is poisoned now. You can keep pouring packs of Crystal Light into the supply, but it is still poisoned.

What do you think Al Horford — who is a free agent in 2016 — is thinking of Ferry and the franchise? Would you re-sign here? How could Horford, or any player for that matter, sit across a desk from Danny Ferry and respect him as a leader? How can a general manager be respected and be the face of a front office after so much negativity?

Those questions will either be answered by a dismissal, or someone is going to have to disprove them.

In order to fully distance themselves from this disaster, the Hawks must clean house. That means Ferry, Levenson, Gearon, and all of the Atlanta Spirit Group should be gone.

In order for a franchise that has long been seeking national relevance to start fresh, a new regime must begin.

Danny Ferry has done a lot of good for the franchise. He has lifted them from the depths of salary cap hell, signed some good talent, and has brought in a great head coach. The Hawks showed last season that they are on the right track, and you can thank Ferry for that.

But none of that matters anymore. In order to remove the poisoned water, you must dump it out.

Gearon Jr. is no hero and Danny Ferry is probably not a racist, but if we’ve learned anything from this week in sports, public perception will always top reality.

The snowball has started to roll from the top of the mountain, and it is now a full fledged monster. It’s time for the franchise to let it roll off the cliff, rather than try and stop it — only to be crushed.

The waters are now poisoned in Atlanta, and no matter what anyone does, new water must flow if they want to escape this nightmare.