The Atlanta Hawks opened training camp Tuesday at the University of Georgia amidst a cloud of a racially charged scandal that has forced owner Bruce Levenson to put his controlling share of the team up for sale and general manager Danny Ferry to take an indefinite leave of absence.
“This is a fluid situation,” coach Mike Budenholzer said at a media session Monday, according to The Associated Press.
Atlanta Hawks players seemed willing to accept Ferry back as general manager, even after he was recorded in a telephone conversation making derogatory comments about free agent Luol Deng and Deng’s African heritage. Ferry has maintained that he was reading off a scouting report and that those comments did not reflect his personal views.
“He was very remorseful,” said Al Horford, who has been with the Hawks longer than any other player. “He understood what he had done, and he’s trying to move forward and make it right.”
Kyle Korver talked about how the culture in the Atlanta Hawks organization has changed since Ferry took over.
“I did not want to come to Atlanta,” Korver said. “There were a lot of perceptions about the Hawks that were not good. True change starts at the center, at its core, like the guts of the whole thing. And I really believe Danny has done a good job being the general manager of this team, a really good job.”
But Hall of Famer Dominique Wilkins, who played most of his career in Atlanta and now serves as a vice president and team broadcaster, had a different view of the situation.
“It’s hard for people to forget,” said Wilkins. “I’m disturbed by anybody who makes those type of accusations, who has those type of views.”
Hawks CEO Steve Koonin accepted Ferry’s request to for an indefinite leave of absence but has resisted the calls of civil rights activists for Ferry’s firing. “Danny is on an indefinite leave of absence. There’s really not much to talk about in that area. We look forward to now playing basketball.”