HoopsHype Bruce Levenson rumors

September 17, 2014 Updates

Within the past year, Atlanta Hawks co-owner Michael Gearon Jr. approached fellow co-owner Bruce Levenson about selling the franchise, two people familiar with the situation told USA TODAY Sports. Levenson wasn't interested in selling but is going to do that now, and with NBA now in a seller's market, Gearon will be in position to cash in on his investment — despite financials losses in the past decade. Gearon understands that if he wants to capitalize, he needs to sell more than just his stake. The Hawks are worth more when a majority of the team is sold. So for the second time in the past few months, an ownership group mired in a controversy over the use of racial language could stand to make a significant amount of money selling the team. In the case of the Hawks, how they got here is a decade of poor judgment, mismanagement and a power play among owners. USA Today Sports

Ferry wasn't fired but was issued a significant fine, two people told USA TODAY Sports, but even with that punishment and two apologetic statements, Ferry announced late last week he was taking an indefinite leave of absence. Ferry made a serious mistake when he uttered racially insensitive comments about Deng, even if they were from a report provided a former front-office executive from another team. In interviews with multiple people who have ties to Levenson, Gearon and Ferry, an unflattering depiction of Hawks management, including ownership, has emerged. USA Today Sports

Gearon recorded the nearly hour-long call but only a brief snippet of the audio has been made available, and there is no full transcript of the call, three people familiar with those details told USA TODAY Sports. The league requested a full transcript, but one was not provided. Ferry's comments sparked the independent review, and the aftermath has rattled the franchise. Levenson is on his way out and Ferry is on indefinite leave. Turns out, Gearon might be getting two wishes. Also in Gearon's letter to Levenson, he wrote, "The racial diversity of our management team has changed for the worse since Ferry took over." USA Today Sports

The mayor has already heard from plenty of potential buyers for the Atlanta Hawks. And the city is ready to kick in a hefty sum to make the deal happen. Flanked by Hall of Famer Dominique Wilkins and other city leaders, Mayor Kasim Reed said Tuesday he expects the sale of the team to move briskly after racially charged comments by owner Bruce Levenson and general manager Danny Ferry. "I have had conversations with no less than six prospective buyers," Reed said during a City Hall news conference. "All six of those prospective buyers will have to go through a process to be vetted by the NBA. That process is going to occur very quickly." USA Today Sports

Reed said he plans to meet with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver on Sept. 26 in New York to discuss the sale of the Hawks. According to the mayor, the league is already lining up an investment bank to look into the finances of any potential buyer. "I think we're going to end up in a superior position, based on everything we know today, than we were before," Reed said. He didn't identify the prospective buyers, but whoever steps in would apparently have majority ownership. Levenson owns 24 percent of the team, and his Washington partner, Ed Peskowitz, has also agreed to sell his share, meaning that 50.1 percent of the team is now available, Reed said. USA Today Sports

In addition, Reed said the city will likely be willing to offer concessions to any new owner to ensure the Hawks commit to remaining in Atlanta for another 30 years. He said there could be as much as $150 million available after the city sells Turner Field, the current home of the Braves, though the mayor said that process has been held up by the baseball team's refusal to negotiate terms for its departure. USA Today Sports

September 16, 2014 Updates

Steve Kyler: I have heard there is no shortage of suitors to buy the team. I had a league source tell me there is a billionaire hedge fund guy in New York that seems poised to out-bid, but we’ll see. Until then, Coach Bud is running the show. I think that will change fairly soon after an owner is in place. There isn’t much that needs to be done with the roster, in the short term. Basketball Insiders

The Atlanta Hawks cancelled a scheduled meeting between their CEO and city civil rights leaders Wednesday, prompting one of the group’s leaders to say his community was greatly offended. The Rev. Markel Hutchins said the meeting with CEO Steve Koonin was called off “at the last minute.” He later said he received a call from Hawks spokesman Garin Narain on Tuesday night asking the appointment be postponed. Detroit Free Press

September 12, 2014 Updates

Shareef Abdur-Rahim: "As an Atlanta native, former Atlanta Hawk and African-American, remaining voiceless on the recent statements distributed by Atlanta Hawks management discounts the sacrifices so many have made to provide a voice for injustice. As a child growing up in Atlanta and before hip-hop music was played at the arena or even accepted by the masses in America, the Hawks had an attendance problem. I recall countless games blacked out in the 1980s and early 90s due to low attendance in the arena. Neither African-American cheerleaders nor the African-American community were the cause of low attendance back then and they are not the cause now." Yahoo! Sports

Shareef Abdur-Rahim: "I personally interacted with both Bruce Levenson and Danny Ferry on multiple occasions; my experiences with both have always been pleasant. However, their comments represent a lack of respect and sensitivity for individuals with different experiences and backgrounds than themselves. I pray both individuals learn from this situation and work to regain the trust of the great people of Atlanta." Yahoo! Sports

Hawks controlling owner Bruce Levenson sent emails to supporters who have reached out to him during the recent controversy that has led him to sell his share of the team. Levenson made his announcement Sunday after an inflammatory email he sent to general manager Danny Ferry was discovered in an internal investigation. In an email obtained by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Levenson writes: Friends, I am sending this email to the 2,478 people who sent me kind emails in the past week. I also got hundreds of texts, written notes and phone calls. I tried to respond to each of you but may have missed a couple. Please know your kind words and stories were powerful ointment for me and my family. While my kids and Karen have held my hand, you have held my heart. Many of you are friends, and many others are co-workers, business associates, basketball players, coaches, team owners, clergy, and complete strangers. Men signed notes “love” and many of you have kept checking back. Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Al Sharpton tells TMZ Sports ... he's been a part of discussions with NBA Commish Adam Silver on how to handle the situation with racist Atlanta Hawks owner Bruce Levenson. Sharpton -- who previously sat down with Adam Silver in the middle of the Donald Sterling crisis -- tells us, "In the discussions we've been having with the Commissioner, they said they were gonna vet everyone out [before allowing a sale of the team]." TMZ.com

September 10, 2014 Updates

A scheduled meeting between Atlanta Hawks CEO Steve Koonin and Atlanta civil rights leaders has been cancelled, leading one of the leaders to say his community was greatly offended. The Rev. Markel Hutchins announced Wednesday's meeting was called off "at the last minute." He later said he received a call from Hawks spokesman Garin Narain on Tuesday night asking that it be postponed. Hutchins said he needed to hear that request directly from Koonin. USA Today Sports

September 9, 2014 Updates
September 8, 2014 Updates

Jeff Zillgitt: NBPA acting director Ron Klempner: "We've had continuing discussions with the league office about the incidents of disturbing statements attributed to representatives of the Atlanta Hawks’ franchise. We recognize that there is an ongoing investigation regarding the circumstances and we will continue to monitor these events and take any action we deem appropriate." Twitter @JeffZillgitt

Looking for a little humor in this Bruce Levenson situation? Try visiting his profile page on the Hawks official website. That’s the site’s default display for any invalid URL – try www.nba.com/hawks/insertanywordshere, and you get the same result – but it’s a little funny in light of the circumstances. The Hawks have clearly pulled Levenson’s official profile from the site, though you can see a cached version here if you’re really interested. Even though he still owns the team, it’s probably best for everyone involved both sides keep their distance. And if you try to connect them, Dikembe Mutombo will be there to finger-wag you away. NBCSports.com

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