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Atlanta Hawks sale means bye-bye to the ASG


Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports

The history of the Atlanta Spirit Group is so dysfunctional, so conflict riddled and so freaking embarrassing that I couldn't bear to rehash it completely in this space.

They were brutal...brutal to each other and eventually to the City of Atlanta, leaving the notorious trail of blecch and the stench that was associated with it as the calling cards of their tenure. The three factions led by Steve Belkin, Michael Gearon, Jr. and Bruce Levenson all took turns being the bad guy, the folks that would bring shame to the team and its fans.

The Atlanta faction appears to be in line to stay on in a minority role of ownership with the team. Gearon's role in the Danny Ferry/Luol Deng fracus will leave fans with a sour taste regarding the news, no doubt. It will also cast doubt on Ferry's role with the team moving forward, but the bridge will be crossed soon enough. But it makes some sense that they would want to stay on, considering that the Gearons have been part of the fabric of Atlanta basketball for a long time, dating back to even before Ted Turner owned the team and Rutherford Seydel continues the Turner legacy of Hawks ownership. There were high hopes initially that having the Gearons involved, being local owners and understanding the legacies here, that it would be a cool, local presence that could be the face of ownership, but it many, many ways that did not work out.

From the Joe Johnson trade with Phoenix and the embarrassment that followed to the past offseasons' summer of racism and the embarrassment that followed, the ASG found new ways to make Atlanta sports look little league.

In between they lopped off the Atlanta Thrashers, leaving the arena that was built with hockey sightlines with only the Hawks as tenants. And no, I don't count Widespread Panic as even honorary in that regard.

The best thing to come out of all that Levenson nonsense was the result that he was going to sell, setting off a domino effect where everybody was going to sell, if not all, most of their ownership stake and relinquish control.

Finally, the ASG would be out of the Hawks' fans lives.

Ironically the thing that would tear the team apart this summer was the one thing we can say the ASG definitely did right with the Hawks. After the failed attempt to sell the team to Alex Meruelo, the group, which at this point was left holding the checkbook, dove back into the fray and came out with Danny Ferry.

Bringing Ferry set in motion a series of moves that would undo all the mediocre, settle for alright brand of franchise decisions that had been made prior to his arrival. After one season at the helm, Ferry brought in Mike Budenholzer and now the Hawks are a 60-win team with legitimate aspirations for a title.

Throughout the season, Hawks fans looked for the other shoe. You know, the one that would drop and turn this glorious breakthrough season as a franchise back into dirt and dust. The last card to play was that of who would buy the team and would they bring people in that wouldn't want to do things the way Ferry/Wilcox/Budenholzer have established. It would be the final pie in the face of the community that the ASG could deliver.

But, if the reports are true about the Ressler Group, it looks more like nothing significant will change except one thing: There will be no more Atlanta Spirit Group.

Let the good times roll.