Ferry referred to Deng as having "some African in him." His comment prompted the investigation that turned up a racially insensitive email sent by Hawks majority owner Bruce Levenson in 2012. On Sunday, the NBA announced Levenson is selling his interest in the team.
Ferry has since apologized for his comment and said he reached out to Deng. Deng released a statement on Tuesday, saying, in part, "I’m proud to say I actually have a lot of African in me, not just 'a little.'”
Hawks minority owner Michael Gearon reportedly wrote a letter to Levenson requesting Ferry's resignation or firing. The team has disciplined Ferry internally, but he reportedly will not be punished further by the NBA.
The recording is a partial transcript of the hour-plus long call. Ferry was reportedly reading a background report with information from sources around the league, but according to the AJC he does not specifically say this in the recording.
There have been some conflicting reports about exactly what Ferry said during his conference call with Hawks owners. The following is a transcript starting at 1:02 from the AJC's recording of Ferry's statements about Deng.
"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. ... He has a store out front that's beautiful and great, but he may be selling some counterfeit stuff behind you.
"When I say that, I mean, for example, he could come out and be an unnamed source for a story. And two years later, come out and say, 'That was absolutely not me, I can't believe someone said that,' but you talk to reporters who know it was him. He could be a lawyer in the locker room when the coach is not around, but when the coach is around he's the greatest guy in the world.
"He's a good guy. For example in Chicago, they would tell you he was good for their culture, but he was not a culture-setter. He played hard and all those things, but he was very worried about his bobblehead being the last one given away that year, or that there is not enough of stuff of him in the team store. He's a little bit of a complex guy."
Listen to the audio here, courtesy of the AJC:
- Molly Geary and Ben Golliver