The Atlanta Hawks released an open letter Saturday apologizing to their fans and the city of Atlanta because they “did not do the right thing” to correct racially-charged comments “over a period of years.”
The apology was signed by CEO Steve Koonin. It came a day after the Hawks announced that general manager Danny Ferry was taking an indefinite leave of absence for his racially-insensitive remarks about forward Luol Deng.
A week ago, co-owner Bruce Levenson announced he would sell his controlling share of the team after voluntarily reporting to the NBA that he made racist remarks in an email about fans.
“We are very sorry,” Koonin wrote. “Over the course of the last week, the Hawks have let down our players, our employees, our fans and the city we love. Our shortcomings have been broadly shared — including how we have failed to operate well internally and externally. It has been humbling and, while we have read, seen and come to know many things about ourselves, our learnings have just begun.”
Ferry said that Deng, who is from South Sudan, “has a little African in him,” during a recorded conference call with the team’s ownership in June. “He’s like a guy who would have a nice store out front and sell you counterfeit stuff out of the back.”
An internal investigation of the comments uncovered the email sent by Levenson in 2012. In the email, Levenson wrote that “the black crowd scared away the whites and there are simply not enough affluent black fans to build a significant season ticket base.”
—Team USA forward Rudy Gay told USA Today that the broken jaw he sustained in Thursday’s win over Lithuania in the FIBA World Cup in Spain came on a “dirty play.”
The Sacramento King is part of a U.S. squad that will play in the gold medal game against Serbia.
“I’ve got a fracture in my jaw, a broken tooth and am going to probably need a root canal,” Gay said. “The top is where I got hit. It’s painful. It’s uncomfortable, and it still bleeds, so I’ve got to continuously gargle. It is what it is, man.”
After the game, he spoke up about it in the handshake line. That started a shouting match between the two teams.
—The Los Angeles Clippers announced Friday that they re-signed veteran forward Hedo Turkoglu.
Turkoglu signed a one-year veteran’s minimum deal, which placed the Clippers’ roster at 14 players with guaranteed contracts for this season.
Turkoglu, 35, averaged 3.0 points and 2.3 rebounds in 10.3 minutes over 38 games last season for the Clippers. He signed with the team in January.
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