The Atlanta Hawks NBA franchise is coming off a game-changing transitional period on ajc.com and sets to begin this year’s season with a renewed sense of focus.
It would be fair and accurate to state that the majority of the responsibilities within shaping the action plan of an NBA franchise falls on the team’s ownership. The owners have to hire the front office leaders and coaching staff personnel members that are in charge of the business and basketball operations of the franchise.
Of course, the players are the ones who the fans come to the arena to see. It’s the players who sacrifice their bodies making plays. They’re also the ones with the superstar faces that represent the organization. However, the pressure of building the team to new heights on all facets rests with the ownership.
In the case of the Atlanta Hawks, there is definitely room for building on some crucial elements, which are needed for the ball club to reach a new level. The sea change of alterations for this franchise began last spring when a financial group led by investment fund manager Anthony Ressler took over.
Ressler and his investment team (which former NBA player Grant Hill is a member of) bought the team last spring for around $850 million, according to various sports news agencies. Ressler and his fellow co-owners bought the team from Bruce Levenson and his team of investment partners.
Levenson is the former majority owner of the Atlanta Hawks and an established philanthropic businessman. During his tenure as a Hawks owner, the team was a playoff contender year in and year out. Levenson also was the overseer of some great trades and draft decisions, which helped the team stay competitive.
Those decisions by Levenson and his group (as well as great play from their stars) put the Atlanta Hawks in a position to get 60 wins last season, which is a franchise record. They also had the number one seed of their conference going into last year’s NBA playoffs and eventually made it to the Eastern Conference Finals.
However, right after the new owners took the reigns, things started going downhill. The Hawks were handily dominated in the Eastern Conference Finals (ECF) by Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. They were trounced in a sweep. A number one-seeded team had not been swept in the ECF since the then New Jersey Nets did it to the Detroit Pistons in 2003.
Even NBA Hall of Famer and colorful TNT Sports commentator Charles Barkley has his doubts about the future of the Atlanta Hawks. “The Hawks are not in my top five teams of the Eastern Conference,” Barkley said in a conference call promoting the start of the 2015-16 NBA season.
Patron attendance for Hawks home games is also down. The franchise is currently ranked 19th in attendance out of all the teams in the league. Ressler and his new ownership team definitely have their work cut out for them for this new season going forward.
Ready or not, game time has begun.