Heat forward Luol Deng said Friday that he has forgiven Atlanta Hawks general manager Danny Ferry for making racially charged comments about the veteran forward in June. Deng, who was born in what is now South Sudan in Africa, also said he spoke to Ferry recently and hopes they can turn this negative situation into a positive.
“I don’t think Danny’s racist,” Deng said, according to The Associated Press.
“I think one of the hardest things to do as a human being, and it’s something we should do more often, is forgive,” Deng added. “I really do forgive Danny. It’s not something I want to hold onto for the rest of my career or the rest of my life.”
The Hawks are reeling from a pair of racially insensitive incidents. Hawks co-owner Bruce Levenson said he would sell his controlling share of the team after comments made in an email in 2012, and then came the revelation that Ferry referred to Deng as someone who “has a little African in him.” Ferry maintains that he was reading a scouting report and that the comment does not reflect his personal views.
“I really believe that he’s really sorry for what he said,” Deng said. “And whether it came from him or wherever it came from, the main focus really should be on how we move on going forward. What are we going to do about it?”
Deng suggested the possibility of Ferry joining him in initiatives that promote African heritage.
“We could really turn this into a positive thing where people can benefit from,” Deng said. “It’s something we’d like to start, working together with Danny and helping people back home in Africa or working with an organization. Just so that one day we could look back and say this happened and it was something negative, but look at how it turned around and how it became something positive.
“I’m not the type of person to hold on and be angry at somebody or be angry at Danny. I don’t think Danny is racist. I really don’t. I really don’t know Danny to describe him as a person. I just know who he is. That’s just what I believe in. I would like to put it behind me and just move forward. But I would really love if I could do something positive out of it.”