Luol Deng was a free agent this offseason. Deng had several suitors, including the Atlanta Hawks, but made the decision to sign with the Miami Heat. Now an alleged scouting report read by Hawks GM Danny Ferry is at the center of a larger controversy surrounding the Hawks franchise.
Reportedly the words “he’s got a little African in him” was written about Deng. The forward has written a classy response to the racist-tinged report:
“I’m proud to say I actually have a lot of African in me, not just “a little”. For my entire life, my identity has been a source of pride and strength. Among my family and friends, in my country of South Sudan and across the broader continent of Africa, I can think of no greater privilege than to do what I love for a living while also representing my heritage on the highest stage. Unfortunately, the comment about my heritage was not made with the same respect and appreciation.
“Concerning my free agency, the focus should purely have been on my professionalism and my ability as an athlete. 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.
“However, there is comfort in knowing that there are people who aren’t comfortable with it and have the courage to speak up. In the same way a generalization should not define a group of people, the attitude of a few should not define a whole organization or league.
Ferry has issued an apology. The Hawks have fined Ferry $25,000. The NBA will not issue further discipline.