In a weird display of punishing the messenger for the message, Atlanta Hawks co-owner and CEO Steve Koonin said disciplinary action will be taken against general manager Danny Ferry for reading aloud a comment someone else made about a prospective player for the team, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Koonin asserted that in June of this year, the team’s officials met to discuss free agency. When a particular player’s name was mentioned, Ferry simply read a background report that included an “offensive and racist” remark. Koonin intoned, “Instead of editing it, he said the comment.”
According to Koonin, members of the team’s ownership said after the meeting, “This is wrong. This should not be said. It’s not appropriate in any world but not a post-(Donald) Sterling world.” This precipitated Koonin’s punishment of Ferry.
The contretemps regarding Ferry prompted an internal investigation of the team that examined 24,000 documents. In the process, an incendiary email was discovered from controlling owner Bruce Levenson in 2012 that revolved around the paucity of white fans at the team’s games. Levenson reported the email to the NBA in July, and resigned from the team on Sunday.
After meeting with the law firm Alston and Bird, Ferry said the punishment meted out to him was more than the attorneys thought was appropriate, although he was reluctant to criticize Koonin, saying, ‘I support Steve’s leadership and greatly appreciate his support. I look to learn from this situation and help us become a better organization.”
Koonin, meanwhile, intoned, “This is a discipline matter. He will be punished. It will remain private.”