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Luol Deng issues statement on Danny Ferry comments

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Luol Deng issued a statement Tuesday evening in regards to the comments made about him by Atlanta Hawks General Manager Danny Ferry.

Kevin C. Cox

Luol Deng issued a statement today in regards to the comments made by Atlanta Hawks General Manager Danny Ferry.

Here is Deng's full statement via the AP's Tim Reynolds:

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 do 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.

Ferry made the comments during an internal conference call with team officials as they prepared to begin the free agency process. Atlanta was reportedly one of the teams that pursued Deng heavily before he ended up signing in Miami. He maintains that he was reading aloud from various background and scouting reports and that the hurtful description of Deng wasn't his words.