Posts Tagged ‘Michael Gearon’

The latest gut-punch for the Hawks


VIDEO: Hawks owner Levenson to sell team

BARCELONA — You have to wonder how much more can one franchise and its fragile fan base take? How many more gut-punches do the fine folks in the city of Atlanta, always a punch line for jokes naming the worst sports cities, have to endure?

The news of Hawks part-owner Bruce Levenson selling his stake in the franchise amid an investigation by the NBA into comments he made in a 2012 email is the latest blow for a franchise that has had to endure decades of dysfunction.

Where does it end?

Levenson’s apology, however sincere, doesn’t make up for the fact that he’s now lumped his family’s name and the Hawks into the mix with the disgraced former owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, Donald Sterling. This is no doubt a part of the fallout that NBA insiders were worried about when the Sterling mess turned into global news seemingly overnight.

Remember that “slippery slope” that Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban talked about when he wondered how the league would handle other owners who were found to have said or done something to upset the sensibilities of a league that has championed inclusion, tolerance and acceptance?

Well, this is it.

Levenson was quick to speak out against Sterling when that news broke, only to have those words come back and bite him now that he’s the one in the crosshairs.

The truth is, there are people working at the highest levels in teams around the league who need to think long and hard about the way they have conducted their business before uttering a single word about any of the things that have gone on with the Clippers and now the Hawks. That’s not an accusation. It’s merely a fact for anyone trying to do business in Silver’s NBA.

Levenson throwing himself on the mercy of the fans with his statement — released by the Hawks today — comes with financial undertones as well. While his stake in the team won’t fetch anything like the record $2 billion that Steve Ballmer paid to free the Clippers from Sterling — Levenson is said to own less than half the team — he’ll walk away with a hefty sum despite the damage that his e-mail has done.

With the sale, Levenson will end his decade-long tenure as a part-owner of a franchise that has suffered one dysfunctional turn after another, something that he and his partners appeared to clean up recently with the second-longest playoff streak in the league (behind the reigning champion San Antonio Spurs) and the addition of marketing wiz and new part owner/CEO Steve Koonin, who knows Atlanta and the market as well as anyone.

The task for Koonin and the Hawks now is reassuring an already skeptical fan base that the franchise does not operate from the perspective Levenson expressed in that email.

It won’t be easy.

Hawks fans have had to suffer through a lot. The former owners, the Atlanta Spirit partners, took their internal battles to court, suing each other after the Joe Johnson sign-and-trade deal. From former part-owner Steve Belkin to Billy Knight, from Johnson and Josh Smith to Mike Woodson and Larry Drew, someone always has been a scapegoat in Atlanta. The Hawks even fired their longtime vice president of public relations, Arthur Triche, in a failed effort to improve their image. Meanwhile, despite regularly making it into the playoffs, the Hawks have gone through years and years of postseason irrelevance.

Levenson and his original partners got off to a rocky start. It was no secret. There were trust issues, inside and outside of the franchise, from the start.

In the end, that ownership group, or at least a major member of that original group, will exit the premises having breached the public trust. Which leaves the fans, once again, looking for someone that can truly represent the good people of Atlanta.

Hawks, NBA mourn Lou Hudson’s death

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com


VIDEO: Hawks legend Lou Hudson died at age 69

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Hawks great Lou Hudson passed away this morning at 69.

A six-time NBA All-Star, Hudson had been in a local Atlanta hospital on life support after a suffering severe stroke late last month. He was reportedly taken off of life support two weeks ago and remained in a coma until his death.

Lou Hudson

Lou Hudson was a six-time All-Star as a member of the Hawks.

Hudson is one of three Hawks with his number (23) retired, joining Bob Pettit (No. 9) and Dominique Wilkins (No. 21) on that elite list. Known as “Sweet Lou,” Hudson played 11 of his 13 NBA seasons for the Hawks and during his stellar career averaged 20.2 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.7 assists.

Hudson was a first round pick of the Hawks (No. 4 overall) in the 1966 NBA Draft after starring at the University of Minnesota in college, where he also had his No. 14 jersey retired. A native of Greensboro, N.C., Hudson was a three-sport star (football, track and basketball) in high school and was also drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in 1966 despite never having played a single down of college football.

But Hudson made his mark in a Hawks uniform. Beginning with the 1969-70 season, Hudson put together a stretch of five consecutive years where he averaged at least 24.0 ppg. He averaged 20 or more points in seven of his 11 seasons with the Hawks and still shares the franchise single-game scoring record, having put up 57 points against Chicago on November 10, 1969.

“Lou Hudson holds a special place in the Hawks family, in the hearts of our fans and in the history of our club,” Hawks co-owner Michael Gearon said in a statement released by the team. “As a fan growing up with this team, I’m fortunate to say I was able to see almost every game Sweet Lou played as a member of the Hawks. He was an integral part of successful Hawks teams for over a decade, and is deservedly recognized with the ultimate symbol of his significance to the franchise with the number 23 hanging inside Philips Arena. On behalf of the Hawks organization, I’d like to extend condolences to Lou’s family and friends.”

What’s Fueling KG’s Fire?





HANG TIME PLAYOFF HEADQUARTERS – Kevin Garnett has made it clear on more than one occasion that those who do not believe in him are the ones that keep his wicked intensity at an all-time high.

The naysayers are the ones who help him dig down deep for the sorts of performances we’ve seen from the Celtics’ big man this postseason and the ones we will continue to see from him until he decides he’s done.

Hawks co-owner Michael Gearon‘s choice words about Garnett — he called Garnett the “dirtiest player in the league,” among other things — have kept him on edge ever since that first round series against the Hawks, an edge Garnett continues to play with as the Celtics inch closer to a return trip to The Finals.

If you thought the 2012 playoffs would serve as his platform to remind the world that he remains one of the game’s most dominant power forwards, you have a vision the rest of us lacked. But here he is, some 17 years deep into a Hall of Fame career and he’s still grinding his way through games. Not much is different for him from 10 or 12 years ago, when Garnett was still trying to become the force of nature he’s been throughout his career.

Garnett’s been nothing short of an absolute beast this postseason, leading the crowd with nine 20-point, 10-rebound games — for years the gold standard for power forward play.

He also added yet another masterpiece interview to his collection (you remember his immediate reaction after the Celtics won it all five years ago … “anything’s possible!”) when he hooked up with ESPN’s Doris Burke on the court in Miami after the Celtics’ Game 5 win over the Heat last night.

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Garnett Leads Celtics Past Hawks





HANG TIME PLAYOFF HEADQUARTERS – The next time Hawks co-owner Michael Gearon speaks about Kevin Garnett, he might want to do it in private.  Better yet, he might want to keep Garnett’s name out of his mouth after the way Garnett made the Hawks eat his words Thursday night.

Gearon called Garnett the “dirtiest player in the league” on the eve of the biggest game of his team’s season. Garnett’s response was the delivery of an absolutely inspired performance for the raucous home crowd in Game 6 of this first round series.

Garnett was filthy, in a good way, against the Hawks. He filled up the stat sheet, working the Hawks over for a season-high 28 points and 14 rebounds in the Celtics’ 83-80 series-clinching win. He also added five blocks and three steals to carry the Celtics, who advance to face the Philadelphia 76ers in the Eastern Conference semifinals. The 76ers won a Game 6 of their own, finishing off their upset of  the top-seeded Chicago Bulls.

Garnett, however, had Gearon on his mind by the time he made it to the interview room after the game.

“Thank you to their owner for giving me some extra gas tonight,” Garnett said. “My only advice to him is next time he opens his mouth to know what he’s talking about with X’s and O’s versus checkbooks and bottom lines.”

He didn’t stop there.

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Hawks Owner Calls Garnett “The Dirtiest Player In The League”





HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Not that this series needed any more fire, but those passionate fans the Hawks will see in Boston tonight got a little extra incentive from Atlanta.

When Hawks co-owner Michael Gearon called Celtics forward Kevin Garnett the “dirtiest player in the league” during a speech Wednesday, he tossed even more kindling onto an already raging fan fire.

It doesn’t matter that most of those fans in Boston wouldn’t be able to pick Gearon out of a lineup, or that his comments were supposedly made “off the record” during a luncheon sponsored by an Atlanta-based non-profit organization.

All anyone will know by tipoff of Game 6 tonight in Boston is that the other team’s owner called out the guy universally regarded as the emotional heart and soul of the Celtics the night before they have a chance to close out the Hawks and move on to the Eastern Conference semifinals.

And now that it’s all out there, courtesy of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution‘s D. Orlando Ledbetter, a NFL writer who happened to be in attendance at the luncheon, it gives the Hawks yet another mess to deal with on the day of what is no doubt the biggest game of their season. Check out exactly what the AJC reports that Gearon said and decide for yourself how big a mess this is:

On media coverage of Hawks’ playoff series against the Celtics

“Did you see what Al Horford did last night? The timeline for recovery for his injury is another three months. He’s not even supposed to be playing and Josh [Smith] should not be playing.Zaza [Pachulia] can’t stand up, but if we can get past this round there is a chance that we can get him back. So this is a team that is overcoming adversity. I wish . . . some of the national media or even some of the local media, more the paper than the TV guys, recognize how hard these guys are playing based on how injured they are.

“On top of all that, we don’t get any calls, which I know everybody always hears. But I’ll give you a stat. Last night, we are playing this old physical team. They are old. I know what happens when you play basketball, old guys foul. [Kevin] Garnett is the dirtiest guy in the league. We are playing Boston last night and they had two fouls the whole first half. We had five times that and we’re athletic.”

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