The Bruce Levenson era Atlanta Hawks have had as much success, if not more so, than any other period of time in the history for the Southeastern Division team. The Hawks are coming off of a franchise record setting season that saw the team win 60 games and make it all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals. With Levenson having served as the majority owner of the Hawks for the past 11 years, it makes sense for the business mogul to want to try out new things. With the Hawks popularity rising, Levenson helped orchestrate the sale of the team to billionaire Antony Ressler.
Antony Ressler is a billionaire business mogul with his entrepreneur label slapped onto several different business ventures. Right now Ressler is a minority owner of the Milwaukee Brewers and one of the more interesting new owners in the NBA. Ressler and his purchasing group had been trying to buy their way into the league for some time now, with their most recent purchasing attempt coming in the form of an offer on the L.A. Clippers. Ressler and his purchasing group, led by former NBA star Grant Hill, were outbid by new Clippers owner Steve Ballmer when Ressler’s group refused to come up to the $2 billion mark.
The Hawks were initially valued by Forbes back in 2013 – ’14 for around $425 million total. Since then the NBA franchise landscape has changed pretty dramatically. The Milwaukee Bucks have been sold and the Clippers have found new ownership as well. These NBA sales have caused a domino effect in the marketplace, raising the value of every franchise in the league. When the bidding got going it was a surprise to see Levenson’s Hawks end up reaching the $850 million mark. While there are reports that bankers oversold the team, it looks like Levenson scored a big win in the form of an eager new owner in Antony Ressler.
Ressler will be taking over a Hawks team that is currently on the rise and he has to be happy about that. Atlanta has, for years, been a sort of ‘second city’ in the NBA. Despite the large population and basketball interest, fan attendance has always been a little bit shaky. When Levenson took over the Hawks, Atlanta was 29th/30th in the league for fan attendance. When Levenson fonder of UCG, sold the team the Hawks had climbed all the way into the top 15 spots in the league. Still, for a perennial contender the hope would be that more people would begin turning out. Still, you can’t help but see how far Levenson has taken what essentially was a broken roster.
The Hawks began Ressler’s era with a bang, opening up the wallet in order to bring back an important player in Paul Millsap. With Millsap returned, and several other trade deals in place, it looks like Atlanta is once more priming for a deep and under the radar run. Hopefully for Ressler the team keeps flourishing under his ownership.