A US newspaper says it has the audio recording of Atlanta Hawks general manager Danny Ferry making racially charged comments about National Basketball Association player Luol Deng.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution posted online the partial recording of a June 6 conference call.
Speaking to Hawks` management, Ferry says of Deng: "He`s a good guy overall but he`s not perfect. He`s got some African in him, and I don`t say that in a bad way other than he`s a guy that..."
At that stage someone in the room -- apparently Hawks co-owner Michael Gearon -- interrupts Ferry and says: "That`s going to be on TMZ tonight."
Ferry continues talking about Deng: "He has a nice store out front that`s beautiful and great but he may be selling some counterfeit stuff behind you."
NBA commissioner Adam Silver told USA Today newspaper Tuesday that he does not think Ferry should be fired for the remarks.
Silver says Ferry was reading a report on African-born British NBA standout Deng as the team was analyzing potential free agents to sign.
Hawks chief executive Steve Koonin said he has punished Ferry, without revealing what form the discipline took, but that he does not plan to fire him.
In an apology on Tuesday for his comments, Ferry said he was looking to move forward with the Hawks.
Silver`s support could be a major step toward making that possible.
"The discipline of a team employee is typically determined by the team," Silver said.
While calling Ferry`s remarks "clearly inappropriate and unacceptable", Silver also said that, "in my view, those comments, taken alone, do not merit his losing his job."