Miami Heat forward Luol Deng issued a strongly worded statement Tuesday in response to a scouting report quoted by Atlanta Hawks general manager Danny Ferry on a June conference call that become public this week. The publication of a letter from Hawks minority owner Michael Gearon Jr. to controlling owner Bruce Levenson calling for Ferry's firing because of the comments created a firestorm around Deng. While reviewing a scouting report as he was discussing the team's free-agent options with Hawks owners, Ferry said that Deng "has a little African in him. Not in a bad way, but he's like a guy who would have a nice store out front but sell you counterfeit stuff out of the back."
Ferry also referred to his report saying that Deng was "two-faced." Deng took those words and turned them back on the Hawks and Ferry in his statement without using either name.
The entirety of Deng's statement reads as follows:
"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.