Hawks Set To Enter Meruelo Era

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Now that the news has broken and the previously unidentified buyer of the Atlanta Hawks has been revealed, Hawks fans are ready for the Alex Meruelo era to begin.

Never mind that most Hawks fans had never heard of Meruelo, the Southern California-based business man who would become the first Hispanic owner of an NBA franchise at the close of the deal, before word spread this morning that he would purchase controlling interest in the franchise from the remains of the Atlanta Spirit Group.

When you hit the stage talking the way Meruelo did to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution — “I’m a person who doesn’t give up. I want to bring a championship to the city of Atlanta.” — the fans want to hear more.

As Hawks fans spend the next few days purging the drama and turmoil of the Spirit days from their systems, Hawks staffers are preparing for Monday’s official announcement and whatever changes might be on the way with a new owner (the Spirit group will retain minority ownership positions).

What that means for the team remains a mystery. The Hawks have gone from an Eastern Conference doormat to a consistent playoff team since the 2004 sale of the team from Time Warner to the ASG. They’ve made the playoffs four straight years and been to the Eastern Conference semifinals in each of the past three seasons.

But if Meruelo’s words (“I will be in complete control of the team.”) mean anything to you, folks in and around the organization should prepare themselves for some changes:

Although his primary residence and business will remain in Southern California,

Meruelo said he plans to spend a lot of time in Atlanta and to buy a home here.

“If you look at my previous … business ventures, I’m very hands-on, and this will be no different,” he said.

Asked if there is any scenario in which he would seek to move the Hawks out of Atlanta, Meruelo said: “Absolutely no. None.”

Owning an NBA team, he said, “has been a dream of mine and a passion, and you’ll definitely see that as I become, hopefully, the owner in a short period of time.”

What all of this means for the people running the show right now — most notably Hawks general manager Rick Sund and head coach Larry Drew — remains to be seen.

But general managers and coaches have a way of exiting the stage when new ownership takes control.

Without any clear basketball or NBA connections to speak of, there is no telling what direction Meruelo will go in. But you can rest assured there will be some changes … be it at that level or in the makeup of a team that many feel has plateaued with its current group of core players.

And with Meruelo’s unique success story, you can read more of it here, courtesy of the AJC’s Mark Bradley, it’s clear he won’t be afraid of taking a few chances to mold the franchise in whatever ways he deems necessary to achieve his desired goals.

It makes you wonder, who stays and who goes?

8 Comments

  1. drmaryb says:

    SOLD!

    Well the era of The ASKillerG has finally come to an end. PTL!

    The ASKG were the equivalent of 8 feces throwing orangutans. The only suits they filed were against one another.

    They never filed into the arena wearing suits to watch their own team play – yet they criticized fans for not doing so. They never spent money wisely (as Najeh Davenpoop would say).

    Najeh also coined the phrase:

    8 feces throwing orangutans, which I succinctly adopted and stole from him. That is the most accurate depiction of The ASKG (a phrase I coined), I have ever heard.

    So, welcome Alex Meruelo, your fan base will be as rabid as you make them be. We are hungry, beaten and teased from years past, filled with mediocrity and not a snowball’s chance in hell of winning anything to speak of!

    Find us a Dwight Howard and unleash Jeff Teague – please!

    Promote the New Look Hawks well, offer $2 Beer night, free parking for early arrivals, create a Game Day Experience, open the gates 3 hours early with BOGO promos and will pack Phillips Arena in kind!

  2. Weems M says:

    Why buy a team that can’t make it past round 2 or gets swept in round 1 of playoffs year after year? He was honestly better off trying to buy Philly or Indiana, lots of young talent on both teams as it showed their maturity and improvement making it to the playoffs and giving Chicago and Miami a scare. They’re only going to get better. Within 5 years, Philly or Indiana may be on of the elite teams.

  3. hope this will be a good change for them.. I say trade joe johnson! and get a new SG for him!

  4. TLAF says:

    While the NBA players are locked out I know that there’s not much basketball business for Mr. Meruelo to conduct at this point so, if I may, I would like to suggest that our new owner take a few million of those dollars in his account and PLEASE replace the scoreboard at Philips Arena; if not a total replacement at least replace some of the blown out bulbs in that things. Makes no sense for an arena named for Philips to have a scoreboard that works half the time.

  5. ZULU says:

    Change is good and always leads to higher expectations. Might be just the start needed. However, with the sad state of economic affairs facing the owners. Would approving this sale/purchse at this time expose the fact that NBA franchises are not in as dire straits as put forth. After all didn’t the owners lock the players out? Hey and I miss the H.T., The Jump and the podcast. Can someone wake the “bosses” at Turner up?

  6. swatguy says:

    Certainly changes will come. To start, president. I believe Magic has sold his interest in the lakers, if so, he may be a candidate. Magic has had Atlanta ties for decades. A New Gm with authority is needed also. So with this so goes personnel (players). The Latin Al will remain but Joe’s contract and Marvin’s game may be moved.

  7. Imad Akel says:

    will there even be a season to watch the hawks play?

  8. MsBevBlack says:

    New Beginnings.
    Best wishes.