An Atlanta Hawks free-agent scouting report, which included an “offensive and racist” remark, triggered the investigation that unveiled Bruce Levenson’s racially insensitive e-mails and led to his decision to sell the team.
ESPN has reported that in a June meeting Hawks general manager Danny Ferry read aloud the report, which included the offensive remark about ten-year NBA veteran Luol Deng. The former Duke standout was being considered as a potential acquisition by the Hawks.
According to Yahoo Sports, Duke alum Ferry read a comment that said that his fellow Duke alum still retained “African” in him but not “not in a bad way.” “He’s still a young guy overall,” Ferry allegedly read, according to Yahoo’s sources. “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.”
The team initially refused to reveal the specific remark. Team officials believe that Ferry should not have repeated it and should have censored the comment. Hawks CEO Steve Koonin said that Ferry will be disciplined for his part in the ordeal, but will remain as the general manger.
Koonin told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the inappropriate comment troubled others in the meeting, saying, “This is wrong. This should not be said. It’s not appropriate in any world but not a post-Sterling world.”
After hearing the remark, one of the Hawks’ stakeholders called for the internal investigation, which reviewed 24,000 documents and ultimately unearthed the email that Levenson admitted “sent the unintentional and hurtful message that our white fans are more valuable than our black fans.”