It seems like billionaire real estate investor Antony Ressler will finally have his shot at owning and running an NBA franchise. Ressler was previously in the running for the Los Angeles Clippers when they were for sale however his team fell short when bidding eclipsed the $2 billion mark. Ressler’s team didn’t wait for long to get back in the thick of things as they leaped into action when the Atlanta Hawks were announced as being for sale by owner Bruce Levenson. Ressler and his buying group, which also happened to include former NBA star Grant Hill, outbid the other auction groups and ended up securing the rights to purchase the team for $850 million. Ressler will be taking over an Atlanta team that can only be described as on the up and up.
Bruce Levenson, the prior owner of the Atlanta Hawks, had come into possession of the team back in 2004 when he bought the franchise alongside Ed Peskowitz. Levenson proceeded to operate as the majority owner of the franchise for the next 11 years, helping the team to grow in almost every consecutive season. When Levenson initially had come on board the Hawks had been coming off of a season with wins in the teens and they were looking for a way to bounce back and become a decent draw for the steady Atlanta market. The Hawks had been ranked dead last in the fan attendance standings and that was recipe for disaster under a new ownership.
Levenson made his biggest impact in the realm of free agency where he helped guide the Hawks toward several key free agency pick ups. Free Agency tends to be the most difficult way to build up a roster but Levenson’s Hawks managed to do it in short order. The first big signing under Bruce’s regime came in the form of Joe Johnson who, at the time, was coming into his prime after playing for the Phoenix Suns. The acquisition of Johnson, along with the maturation of Josh Smith and Al Horford, would turn the Hawks into steady contenders in the Eastern Conference. His greatest signings, arguably, came just two years ago when the Hawks signed Paul Millsap and Kyle Korver.
Last year under head coach Mike Budenhozler the Hawks had their most successful season in nearly fifty years. Atlanta broke the franchise record for wins in the regular season and finished behind only Golden State during the regular season. Atlanta would go on to make it all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals where they would be dismantled by the too-powerful Cleveland Cavaliers. Despite the rough finish to the season the Hawks had plenty of reasons to be excited and now with new ownership in town there is a feeling of renewal in the air.
Ressler will have to try and generate more enthusiasm from the Atlanta fanbase in order to keep his team competitive and on the top of their game. Atlanta is a large market and the fans want a winner more than anything.