The tide is going to turn on Ferry and quickly. Pundits and national talking heads that stood behind Ferry on Thursday will likely backtrack or change their minds based on the audio of the conference call. Others who have known Ferry a long time may stand by him, but you can know somebody a long time and still not fully know that person. Saying you can't believe he would be this way might only mean you didn't know he could and would.
The people were already in favor of penalizing Ferry further, either by suspension or termination, in yesterday's poll, by a 54-46 majority....and that was before the audio hit.
The audio does no favors for Ferry and people are getting the same sense we had earlier in the week when the transcript came out: It simply doesn't sound like reading text, more of a voicing of opinion. Ferry had been in Check previous to this, confined to carefully prepared team statements and was protected by his knight, Steve Koonin, as Koonin desperately visited every major news or talk venue to try and push things forward.
Now? It's Checkmate. The only part left is Adam Silver, who carefully defended Ferry on Wednesday. Silver was not in the league offices at that time, however, so he has a path to backtrack and, in doing so, put the finishing touches on Ferry's turn as Hawks GM.
Silver was likely hoping it wouldn't come to this, as he is facing a league full of people like Michael Gearon who have an agenda and are waiting to strike. If he chooses now to recommend the removal of Ferry, he opens the door further for these opportunists to take a number at the league offices and make their case for why their bad behaving executive should be tossed.
But what about the Hawks themselves? Does Steve Koonin continue to sell the story that the Hawks have crafted, that this was merely the reading of a scouting report? The stock on that story has sunk quickly and I'm not sure anyone is looking to buy it right now. There is still no source behind the comments that has been named, leaving Ferry as the only face, and now voice, tied to the comments.
The Hawks will have to suddenly produce the source of these words, else be satisfied that Ferry is that source. That it's taken so long to come forward with it, there is going to be apprehension that it's legit until somebody competent and independent can confirm it. If Ferry is the source, how will the Hawks react and how many people on Ferry's staff will be impacted as well? Who will be left to turn on the lights when the season starts? At this rate, the team may have to have their training camp and media day in a remote location like the moon just to be able to focus on the game.
The players have been almost completely silent since this all started, but the fans haven't and they are likely to get louder with this latest news. If indeed the Hawks can't produce a source for the commentary other than Ferry, it will mean that the team intentionally set out to lie to the people of Atlanta and the NBA about the origin of those absurd comments about Luol Deng.
The open dismissal of the very people they are trying to bring in and spend money on their organization would be infuriating and unforgivable. "Yes, well, sorry we lied, we'll do better next time, mind if we stay?" I know I will mind. Breaking the public trust is hard to repair and almost impossible. That's why any new ownership would choose to clear the decks and hire a new crew. They need to establish that the old stink is gone and the new scent is worth buying.
So your move, Atlanta Hawks. Your move, Steve Koonin. Your move, Danny Ferry. Double down or fold? Because each card that's been played has exponentially injured the franchise and the folks that love it, as well as your reputations.