Yesterday we told you that Atlanta Hawks GM Danny Ferry read the following remark about (now) Miami Heat forward Luol Deng: "He's still a young guy overall. He's a good guy overall. But he's not perfect. He's got some African in him. And I don't say that in a bad way," as part of an oddly focused scouting report. Ferry claimed that he was just reading what somebody else had written, but it still seemed like he could've said "Not sure what this means but..." or, better yet, just glossed over it (unless in his view it was relevant).
Today, Deng responded in a statement seemingly directed at Ferry, by saying:
"HE HAS A LITTLE AFRICAN IN HIM"
"These words were recently used to describe me. It would ordinarily make any African parent proud to hear their child recognized for their heritage.
I'm proud to say I actually have a lot of African in me, not just "a little". For my entire life, my identity has been a source of pride and strength. Among my family and friends, in my country of South Sudan and across the broader continent of Africa, I can think of no greater privilege than to do what I love for a living while also representing my heritage on the highest stage. Unfortunately, the comment about my heritage was not made with the same respect and appreciation.
Concerning my free agency, the focus should purely have been on my professionalism and my ability as an athlete. Every person should have the right to be treated with respect and evaluated as an individual, rather than be reduced to a stereotype. I am saddened and disappointed that this way of thinking still exists today. I am even more disturbed that it was shared so freely in a business setting.
However, there is comfort in knowing that there are people who aren't comfortable with it and have the courage to speak up. In the same way a generalization should not define a group of people, the attitude of a few should not define a whole organization or league.
Ultimately, I'm thankful to be with an organization that appreciates me for who I am and has gone out of its way to make me feel welcome."