Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski has done some fantastic reporting that gives a much clearer look at just what the hell is going on with the Atlanta Hawks, a team that's seen owner Bruce Levenson ousted after sending a racist email, and minority owner Michael Gearon rat out GM Danny Ferry for getting racist on a conference call. So why is all this happening? Because the Hawks' front office is a mess.
Wojnarowski's reporting indicates that Gearon and Ferry really do not get along, and that Gearon has long been looking for an opportunity to engineer Ferry's departure. That opportunity presented in the form of a June conference call that both Gearon and Ferry were on, during which Ferry claimed that free-agent forward Luol Deng "has a little African in him," and went on a riff about how Deng might be deceitful:
As soon as those words left Ferry's mouth on the call, Gearon responded in a dramatic way in the background of the tape recording, according to a partial transcript of the call obtained by Yahoo Sports.
"Oh my God, that comment sounds like Sterling on TMZ," Gearon said.
Gearon didn't stop Ferry. He let him keep talking. In the transcript, Ferry detailed the information he'd gathered on Deng. Ferry attributes those characterizations – and inappropriate phrasing – to outside sources.
Gearon immediately fired off an email to Levenson detailing Ferry's racially insensitive remarks, but his reasons for doing so were likely less than altruistic. That's because Wojnarowski also got his hands on Gearon's immediate reply to Levenson's now infamous email, and Gearon didn't seem to be at all concerned about the email's racist content:
In an email obtained by Yahoo Sports and dated Aug. 27, 2012, Gearon replied to Levenson's racially charged correspondence this way: "Was tied up … for 2 hours this morning and then had to run to a meeting. Will call soon."
Nobody comes out of this looking good, lest of all Ferry, who has maintained that his comments about Deng were simply parroted from a scouting report he was looking at, but the transcript that Wojnarowski got hold of makes that explanation look even weirder than it already did.