Report: Danny Ferry Called Bonzi Wells The N-Word In ’02

09.11.14 4 years ago 13 Comments

Bonzi Wells

During a Blazers win over the Spurs in 2002, Bonzi Wells spat on Danny Ferry and was suspended for a game because of the incident. At the time, it was just another in a long line of tempestuous on-court Bonzi moments, but after recent evidence of Ferry’s racially-charged invective directed at Luol Deng during a conference call with minority owners , the event may illuminate even more about Ferry’s record with race.

After the game where Wells spit on Ferry, Bonzi told the Sacramento Bee‘s Martin McNeil (it’s no longer online) by way of Can’t Stop The Bleeding (H/T Tom Ziller at SB Nation) that Ferry had dropped the n-word during their on-court back-and-forth:

Then there was an incident while with the Blazers when Wells spit on Ferry, now the Cleveland Cavaliers’ president of basketball operations.

Wells’ agent, William Phillips said part of that story always gets omitted.

“Ferry (allegedly) called him a (racist name),” Phillips said. “That part of it never gets reported. And Ferry becomes the president of basketball operations.

Ferry did not return a phone call to The Bee.

McNeil, who no longer works for the Bee, sent out a pair of tweets about the Bonzi/Ferry story when the Deng comments came out. Also, it should be noted that McNeil almost never tweets, so it was obvious he wanted to put this on the record:

Wells, for his part, has his own history with race and on-court trash talk.

Kerry Eggers of the Portland Tribune (by way of PBT) wrote about his history of using demeaning language for white people on the court:

The most recent was during the game at San Antonio on Nov. 9 when Wells spit in Ferry’s face as the players walked to their respective benches during a fourth-quarter timeout. The NBA suspended him for a game because of the incident.

Ferry told teammates that Wells had taunted him in games dating to last season, using an expletive preceding the word ‘honkie’ multiple times. And there have been at least two other times when players accused him of using racial epithets to white players.

During an exhibition game in October, Golden State’s Troy Murphy said Wells repeatedly trash-talked him, using the word ‘cracker.’ Murphy, a second-year forward with the Warriors, said Wells leveled the insult at him several times.

And last April, after a Blazer game at Dallas, guard Nick Van Exel said Wells had scoffed at the Mavericks as ‘a bunch of soft-assed white boys.’ The comments, made public by Van Exel, created a stir in Dallas for a day or two, then drifted into oblivion.

If Wells used a racial slur with Ferry or any other Caucasian basketball player that’s deplorable. If Ferry used THE racial slur for Bonzi Wells it’s just as terrible — maybe even more so because America has never imprisoned or disenfranchised white men like we did black men and women for almost a century. Spitting on a player is also indefensible.

However, it’s been more than 12 years since Ferry purportedly dropped the n-word about Wells in retaliation for Wells’ own racial slur. The Hawks have internally disciplined Ferry for his remarks about Deng, and Ferry’s apologized to Deng and the Hawks with the caveat that he was just reading aloud a report cobbled together by a scout outside the organization.

Hawks CEO Steve Koonin has said Ferry will not be fired, which is where this anecdote becomes important. If Ferry has a history of this sort of rhetoric as regards African-American players, then his future as a GM — already tenuous following the Deng remarks — could force his resignation, or compel Koonin and Hawks brass to terminate their — up till now, highly successful — partnership with Ferry.

What do you think?

Follow Spencer on Twitter at @SpencerTyrel.

Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.

Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.

Around The Web