While the walls appear to be falling in on top of Atlanta Hawks General Manager Danny Ferry, it is important to not forget the role of ownership in this mess. In case you have forgotten all of the missteps by the Atlanta Spirit Group (now known as Atlanta Hawks LLC), Michael Lee of the Washington Post has constructed a timeline.
The embarrassing run has seen one owner ousted for disagreeing with the general manager over a player acquisition, the hockey team sold to a group of Canadian investors who moved the franchise to Winnipeg, Manitoba, and a botched attempt to sell the Hawks to a California investor. But the latest saga, which could result in a complete regime change, has sunk the franchise to arguably its lowest depths.
Minority owner Michael Gearon may have delivered the death blow to the Danny Ferry regime when he recorded the infamous conference call from this past June. While having a vested interest in the Hawks and every right to record the call lets not confuse anything Gearon has done as being noble. Audio of the call surfaced on Thursday and there appears to be an audible snicker when Ferry makes the comments on Deng.
Adrian Wojnarowski's report with the transcript of Ferry's call discusses Gearon's role in all of this further. It shows that Gearon received the email that Bruce Levenson sent in 2012 that ultimately will cost him his stake in the Hawks. Per Woj's report this was his reply:
"Was tied up ... for 2 hours this morning and then had to run to a meeting. Will call soon."
Who knows if that call ever came and Gearon clearly had no problem with anything in the email since it went unreported until earlier this summer when an independent investigation found it.
Levenson is already gone. Gearon only acted when it benefited him the most. With him it wasn't about righting a wrong or being politically correct but rather it was about power and revenge for being removed from control by Levenson and Ferry.
Really long time fans shouldn't be surprised. Just take a look at Michael Lee's history of this ownership group. From Joe Johnson, to the Thrashers moving to selling opposing team's memorabilia at the team store. Whenever things appeared to be improving, there was always someone from the group conspiring for their own benefit.
No matter what side you are on in the Danny Ferry debate know this. Ferry's head is on the chopping block for his own transgressions but his demise ultimately won't mean a thing for this franchise if Gearon and the remaining members of this ownership group aren't shown the door as well.