by: Zach Klein Updated:
ATLANTA - Atlanta Hawks General Manager Danny Ferry has issued a response to a letter accusing him of making inappropriate racial remarks during a conference call.
On Monday, Channel 2's Sports Director Zach Klein obtained the 2-page letter sent by Hawks minority owner Michael Gearon to Bruce Levenson on June 12.
In the letter, Gearon is quoted as saying “We are calling on you, as majority owner and NBA governor, to take swift and severe action against general manager Danny Ferry. Our advisors tell us there is no other choice to ask for Ferry's resignation and if he refuses, to terminate him for cause under his employment contract.”
Gearon wrote the letter after Ferry, on a conference call with management and ownership, described free agent target Luol Deng “he has a little African in him, not in a bad way, but he's a guy who would have a nice store out front, but sell you counterfeit stuff out of the back.”
Tuesday morning, Ferry responded and said he was, "repeating comments that were gathered from numerous sources during background conversations and scouting about different players."
"Those words do not reflect my views, or words that I would use to describe an individual and I certainly regret it. I apologize to those I offended and to Luol, who I reached out to Monday morning," Ferry said.
It was the letter that started an internal investigation that eventually revealed the 2012 email from Leveson and the inappropriate and offense comments regarding African-Americans who attend games at Philips Arena.
Levenson said he voluntarily reported the email in July to the NBA.
In a separate case, Clippers owner Donald Sterling decided to sell his team after he was recorded making racially charged comments. Steve Ballmer became the team's new owner Aug. 12.
"We've had continuing discussions with the league office about the incidents of disturbing statements attributed to representatives of the Atlanta Hawks' franchise," said Ron Klempner, acting executive director of the NBPA. "We recognize that there is an ongoing investigation regarding the circumstances, and we will continue to monitor these events and take any action we deem appropriate."
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