Miami Heat and Great Britain forward Luol Deng has issued a statement regarding racist comments made about him by Atlanta Hawks General Manager Danny Ferry.
Ferry made the comments about Deng during a conference call in June that became public earlier this week.
Ferry said in the conference call 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, who last played for the Great Britain national team at the London 2012 Olympics released a statement throwing the words back at Ferry without even mentioning his name.
” ‘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.”
Deng has recently been home in the UK attending the Luol Deng Camp in London. He has also been helping the Luol Deng Foundation move its UK offices to Brixton in South London, where the Miami Heat player played as a junior.
Great Britain were unable to qualify for their fourth straight Eurobasket tournament after losing all four of their qualifiers to Iceland and Bosnia-Herzegovina.