Just before Danny Ferry went on an indefinite leave of absence, Billy King came to his defense, saying his old friend and Duke teammate was "the furthest thing from a racist." King's support was crucial. There are only three African-American GM's in the NBA, him, Masai Ujiri in Toronto and Doc Rivers, who holds both coach and executive positions in L.A.
Now, King is leading an effort to resurrect Ferry's reputation. Indeed, a number of African-Americans, including Magic Johnson, are now going public in suport of the Hawks GM.
"For over 30 years I have had the pleasure to call Danny my best friend," King, who had Ferry in his wedding party, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "He has been there for me through my toughest times as well the good. Danny, I feel as a GM, is always looking to build a team that the city he represents would be proud to support. He thinks team first as he leads."
Johnson sent out a series of tweets on Tuesday following his meeting with Ferry.
Just had a heart to heart meeting w/ Hawks GM Danny Ferry! He apologized for his comments about Luol Deng & the African American community.— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) September 23, 2014
After our long meeting, I think he deserves a second chance whether it is with the Hawks or another team.— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) September 23, 2014
"I’m glad that Magic sat down and talked to him," King said. "That was one of the problems I had. Everybody was attacking him without knowing him. Magic probably met him but he didn’t really know him. That’s what happens. You have to know the person before you label him something..."
Among the others who have come to Ferry's defense: Mike Brown, who Ferry hired in Cleveland. When the Cavs fired Brown, Ferry resigned.
Ferry gathering support from around NBA - Chris Vivlamore - Atlanta Journal-Constitution