The NBA’s Board of Directors approved the sale of the Atlanta Hawks to an ownership group led by billionaire Tony Ressler on Wednesday, ending a year-long process forced by racist comments in leaked emails from previous ownership.

Ressler and his group, which includes former All-Star Grant Hill and current Hawks partner Steven Price, purchased the team for approximately $850 million in April. The deal includes debt obligations and operating rights to the Phillips Arena. Ressler, an owner of private equity and investment firm Ares and a real estate developer, was one of three finalists in the sale of the Los Angeles Clippers in 2014, losing out to Steve Ballmer’s bid of $200 million.

The sale came about after previous owner Bruce Levenson voluntarily agreed to sell the team after emails he wrote in 2012 surfaced in September, which expressed concern that large numbers of African-American spectators at his team’s games were driving away more affluent, middle-aged, white, suburban fans. Among his comments, Levenson wrote, “My theory is that the black crowd scared away the whites and there are simply not enough affluent black fans to build a significant season ticket base.”

e988c8de610d73d75558e3d8c919d84c4f375320The email became public after a probe into comments by former general manager Danny Ferry, who resigned Monday. Ferry made derogatory racial remarks about British NBA star Luol Deng, reading them off a scouting report on a conference call. The Hawks and Ferry reached a buyout agreement last week that will pay Ferry more than the balance of the remaining three years on his contract. All of this seemingly coming in the wake of Donald Sterling’s forced ouster as owner of the Los Angeles Clippers over racial insults, which led to Ballmer’s winning bid and purchase from the disgraced former owner.

Among ownerships immediate priorities are the expected announcement of head coach and senior executive in basketball operations since September Mike Budenholzer to team president, and assistant general manager Wes Wilcox being promoted to general manager, and Steve Koonin, the Hawks’ CEO, staying in that position. Atlanta also figures to be active in free agency, as Paul Millsao and DeMarre Carroll both free agents and expected to be heavily courted by other teams after being such key cogs for the Hawks last season. Resigning or replacing them, while trying to improve a team that faded in the Conference finals to avoid a large regression is the number one order of business.

Related Posts:



You can be the first one to leave a comment.

Leave a Comment