British NBA star Luol Deng has spoken of his pride at his African heritage after he was the subject of racist remarks from Atlanta Hawks general manager Danny Ferry.
Ferry said in June 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.”
Deng, who captained the Team GB basketball team at London 2012, was born in South Sudan before moving to London after his family were granted asylum.
The comments, which were revealed on Monday, were made when the forward was being evaluated as a free agent this summer before he elected to join the Miami Heat to replace LeBron James.
Deng expressed his disappointment and anger that such racial stereotypes still exist in the NBA.
“Concerning my free agency, the focus should purely have been on my professionalism and my ability as an athlete,” Deng said.
“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.”
Despite the negative connotations of Ferry’s remarks, Deng stressed he remains extremely proud of his African heritage.
Deng said: “’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.”
Ferry, who also described Deng as a ‘two-faced liar and cheat’, revealed he has no plans to quit the Hawks and said the comments originated from scouting reports compiled on Deng.
“I was repeating comments that were gathered from numerous sources during background conversations and scouting about different players,” he said in a statement.
“I repeated those comments during a telephone conversation reviewing the draft and free agency process.
“Those words do not reflect my views, or words that I would use to describe an individual and I certainly regret it. I apologize to those I offended and to Luol.”
Source : Sky News