Danny Ferry to take indefinite leave of absence


UPDATE: Danny Ferry issued his own statement shortly after the statement from Steve Koonin (which announced Ferry was taking a leave of absence and outlined a few steps the team would be making going forward).

Here is the entirety of Ferry’s statement:

"“No words can adequately describe my remorse for the hurt that I have caused many people through the statements I repeated, most importantly Luol Deng.Luol is a good man who I have known for many years and he has done a tremendous amount of good for his country and around the world.  I apologize to Luol and I apologize to all that I have offended. As I have said, while these were not my words, I deeply regret repeating them.  Almost all the background information I provided during the lengthy presentation regarding Luol was positive and my personal and professional recommendation during the call was very much in favor of adding Luol to our team but I never should have uttered those offensive remarks and for that I apologize.My focus moving forward is to tirelessly work to rebuild trust with this community and with our fans. I realize that my words may ring hollow now and my future actions must speak for me.  I will maximize my time during this leave to meet with community leaders and further educate myself and others on the extremely sensitive issues surrounding race, diversity, and inclusion. I will find a way to make a positive difference in this area, and further learn from the sensitivity training that I will go through.”"


Atlanta Hawks CEO Steve Koonin issued a statement today, announcing that general manager Danny Ferry would be taking an indefinite leave of absence in the wake of his comments about Luol Deng.

Here is the full statement:

"“This afternoon, Danny Ferry requested, and I have approved, taking an indefinite leave of absence, effective immediately.  This has been an incredibly difficult time for him and his family and it is my hope that this time away from the Hawks organization allows him the privacy he needs to listen to the community, to learn about his mistakes, and to begin the long process of personal healing.  As a human being, manager and friend, I wish him well as he undergoes this process.While the issues related to race are deeply troubling, at the heart of this dispute is an unfortunate disagreement amongst owners. That said, we have taken several steps to address what we can do as an organization to be better and stronger, including working with a diversity consultant to examine us and to train us to ensure something like this never happens again, we are committed to hiring a Chief Diversity Officer, and we have and will continue to meet with community leaders in an ongoing way to ensure our values reflect the community in which we play and work.  The process of selling the team, which is to remain in Atlanta, is already underway.Effective immediately, our Head Coach, Mike Budenholzer, will assume oversight of the basketball operations department.  He will report directly to me.I am deeply saddened and embarrassed that this has put a blemish on our team and our city, which has always been a diverse community with a history of coming together as one.  We should build bridges through basketball, not divide our community or serve as a source of pain.”"

This is the first “good news” to come out of this entire situation as it is likely best move for everyone involved. Whether or not you think Ferry should continue to act as the team’s general manager in the future (I don’t think this should or will happen), stepping away is the best thing for Ferry and the organization at the moment.

In addition, the team’s decision to hire a “Chief Diversity Officer” seems like more than just a PR move. It sounds like the team is already taking the right steps to ensure that a situation like this never happens again.

Lastly, the fact that Mike Budenholzer will be assuming “oversight of the basketball operations department” seems to indicate that his position with the team is fairly secure. Throughout this ordeal, many have wondered whether or not Budenholzer would be included if the organization decided to “clean house” and while that could certainly still happen, it looks like Coach Bud is going to stick around.

We’ll be sure to continue to update you on this story as it develops. In the meantime, what do you think about the release and Ferry’s requested leave of absence?