Category Archives: National Basketball Association

Tony Ressler Takes Over From Bruce Levenson At The Atlanta Hawks

The ownership of the Atlanta Hawks has recently been an area of great discussion and rumor as the multi million dollar sale of the NBA franchise has reached its conclusion. Eventually, Bruce Levenson‘s Atlanta Hawks LLC consortium decided to hand over the keys to Philips Arena to a Tony Ressler led group of investors for a reported $730 million. Ressler has been looking around the NBA for many years seeking the perfect entry into franchise ownership and felt he had arrived with the sale of the LA Clippers, only to be outbid when Steve Ballmer bid $2 billion for the LA based franchise.

Ressler is already a part owner of the Milwaukee Brewers MLB franchise and is looking for a good way of increasing his presence in the sporting life of the US. The Hawks sale came at the perfect time for Ressler and a valuation of around $1 billion saw many potential bidders put off entering the race for the team, which entered the playoffs for the 2014-15 season as the number one team in the eastern division. The sale of the Hawks will return them to part of a sporting empire that now includes the Brewers, but in the past Hawks owners have also controlled the Atlanta Braves MLB team and the Atlanta Thrashers NHL franchise alongside the Hawks.

In 2004, when Levenson led the buyout of Time Warner his Atlanta Spirit consortium took control of both the Hawks and the Thrashers for a reported $250 million. Alongside the rights to use Philips Arena the deal was a high profile success for Levenson who already led a successful life as a businessperson involved in analytics and data gathering for many industries. Over the years Bruce Levenson grew into his role as the public face of the Hawks and joined the NBA Board of Governors and a number of charitable programs he and the Hawks backed together.

The Bruce Levenson led consortium had already sold the NHL Thrashers franchise and seen the team relocated to Canada as the Winnipeg Jets. The $170 million paid for the Thrashers franchise and the $730 million paid for the Hawks sees the New York and Washington DC based consortium receive a major profit for their decade as custodians of the Hawks franchise. Tony Ressler has inherited a Hawks organization that is close to breaking into the upper echelons of the NBA and has a solid community base that has been created through programs backed by the Levenson family over their tenure as the leaders of the Hawks.

Highlighting the NBA’s South East Division

The NBA is a pretty wacky league once you come right down to it. In an offseason you can see entire divisions crumble and rebuild with teams rising from the bottom (Cleveland) all the way to the top. A team that has gone to the Finals 4 seasons in a row (Miami) can fall to the point of not making the playoffs. With so much oddness going around in the NBA in terms of team churning it is worth taking a closer look at one of the most interesting divisions in the entire league: The Southeast Division.

Last season we saw the Atlanta Hawks roll out to the second best record in the entire NBA with a 60 – 22 mark. Atlanta dominated their division, going 12 – 4 on the year, and they made it all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals. Bruce Levenson, the owner of the Hawks since 2002, helped to craft this team by building an identity that focused on sharing the ball. Bruce Levenson’s Hawks went on to sit near the top of the league in offense and defense thanks to their unselfish play on the court. Levenson sold his share of the team and now Atlanta is looking to push forward with their new owner. The Hawks will be hard pressed to repeat last seasons performance.

Orlando, who finished at 25 – 57, is our favorite team to make a huge jump this coming season. The Magic are full of young studs and they have two burgeoning superstars in Elfrid Payton and Victor Oladipo. Add in the 20/10 threat that is Nikola Vucevic, the offensive threat that is Tobias Harris, and defensive youngster Aaron Gordon and there is a ton of reason to be hopeful going forward. In fact, were we to pick a dark horse to come and steal the division we would have to point to the Orlando Magic.

Orlando is not alone in their presumed ascent, however, as the Miami heat have once more shown that they can retool with the best of them. Miami made it a priority to resign their stars so when they locked in Dwyane Wade and Goran Dragic we weren’t surprised. Chris Bosh should be back healthy for the start of the year and alongside him we will see newcomers Gerald Green and Amare Stoudemire. The Heat are a deep team this season and they will be playing with a chip on their shoulder.

However, until someone dethrones the Atlanta Hawks we have a hard time thinking that Coach Budenholzers team will be relinquishing the position any time soon. The Hawks have added depth to their bench and have had another year to gel together in the offseason.

Bruce Levenson Plans To Sell The Hawks For Just Under $1 Billion

Leading executive, Bruce Levenson, was on a mission to sell his
Atlanta Hawks majority shareholding for $1 billion during the final
months of 2014. However, recently, he and his strategic business
partners announced their decision to accept Antony Ressler’s offer of
approximately $850 million. Remarkably, both Levenson and Ressler
agreed that the final bid accurately represents the current status and
future of the National Basketball Association team. Most importantly,
this extremely fair negotiation price is viewed favorably in the
sports industry and is the direct result of the prominent
businessmen’s former professional experiences.

Levenson’s decision to sell the Atlanta Hawks intrigued renowned
businessmen from across the United States. Although many interested
ownership groups expressed concerns about the team’s present sports
facilities like Philips Arena as well as the antiquated practice and
weight rooms, Levenson and his business partners still expected to
generate a profit on the sell.

After many months of continuous bidding, the team was sold to Antony
Ressler who is the co-founder of two private equity firms known as
Apollo Global and Ares Management. Ares Management is headquartered in
Los Angeles California and currently maintains over 700 employees and
estimated $74 billion in offices around the world. This prominent firm
is commended for leading the investment sector with unique credit
strategies in direct lending and real estate transactions. Today, Ares
continues to thrive which is primarily the result of Ressler’s strong
leadership skills and techniques.

Notably, this renowned businessman has a net worth of around $1.4
billion and is ranked number 418 in the United States on Forbes’
richest businessmen list. Moreover, Ressler is also extremely
knowledge about sports management as he was a minority shareowner of
the Milwaukee Brewers in 2005. Remarkably, he reportedly watches
ESPN’s top 10 plays of the day before bedtime and enjoys attending
basketball games after work. His MBA from Columbia University’s
Graduate School of Business in addition to his former leadership and sport experiences will both contribute to his success as a Hawk’s owner.

In addition to controlling the Hawks, Levenson is recognized for
his contribution to United Communications Group (UCG) which is a
prominent company that guides customers in their acquisition of
long-term profits. He has also served in many leadership positions at
TechTarget, the Washington Star and Observer Publishing, and the
Newsletter and Electronic Publishers Association. Most prominently, he
holds degrees from both Washington University in St. Louis and
American University in Washington DC. During his free time, Levenson
enjoys volunteers at many charity organizations such as, “I Have A
Dream Foundation,” “Hoops Foundation,” “SEED Foundation,” “The
Community Foundation,” “Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit
Leadership,” and The United States Holocaust Museum.
After his resignation, Levenson hopes Ressler will glean knowledge
from his noteworthy Hawk’s ownership. Notably, under his guidance, the
team maintained the best record in the NBA’s eastern conference during
the 2014-2015 season and has competed in seven consecutive playoff
championships. Levenson and Ressler anticipate similar success in
the future.

Will Thabo Sefolosha be Ready for the Next Atlanta Hawks Season?

According to an article from the Atlanta Journal Constitution, reports suggest that Atlanta Hawks player Thabo Sefolosha is going to be ready to go for the upcoming season after suffering a broken right fibula.

Sefolosha has been in the league for about 10 years, and he was acquired by the Hawks in a sign and trade deal with the Oklahoma City Thunder last year. He played in fifty two games for the Hawks last year before his season ending broken leg sidelined him for the remainder of the season. Prior to the injury, Sefolosha averaged 5.3 points and 4.3 rebounds during his 18.8 minutes per game.

The injury, however, was not from the basketball court. Instead, Sefolosha was injured during an arrest outside of a New York City nightclub along with teammate Pero Antic on April 8. After having surgery on his broken leg and ligament damage on April 16th, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that he will be ready to return six months after the surgery, which places him back on the court during the middle of training camp.

Perhaps Sefolosha will be able to put the nightclub injury behind him and focus on the upcoming season. It will definitely be difficult for the guard/forward to fully recover from an injury such as a broken leg when so much of his explosiveness off the ball depends on a fully strengthened leg.

Sefolosha’s injury will coincide with another new aspect of the Atlanta Hawks season, as Antony Ressler has become the new owner of the Hawks, buying the team from former owner Bruce Levenson. Levenson formed Atlanta Spirit LLC, now known as Atlanta Hawks LLC, back in 2004 to buy the Hawks from Turner Media, but sold the team in 2014 for around $850 million. Antony Ressler spearheaded a purchasing group which also included former NBA All-Star Grant Hill, Clayton Dubilier & Rice partner Rick Schnall, Spanx owner Sara Blakely and her husband, entrepreneur Jesse Itzler. Kessler is a long standing businessmen, who owns a private equity and investment firm Ares as well as working as a real estate developer. He initially worked to buy the Los Angele clippers last spring, but his group’s bid fell short of the $2 billion offered by Steve Ballmer.

With Sefolosha returning from injury sometime around the middle of training camp, along with Ressler’s purchase of the Atlanta Hawks, this team may be prepared to turn the page and look to the 2015-2016 season with great anticipation and hopes of a playoff run. Perhaps Ressler will stoke the roster and will work to invorgate the lineup with some new cash. Perhaps Sefolosha will return to his old form. In any case, the Hawks upcoming season will be interesting.

The Atlanta Hawks: What Role Does Bruce Levenson Play?

If you live in Atlanta and are a fan of basketball, you likely keep up with the Atlanta Hawks quite often. Like many NBA teams, the Hawks have had their ups and down, but have played considerably well lately. Also, like other teams in the NBA, there’s a business side to the Atlanta Hawks that you may not know about, which have included former basketball players such as Grant Hill looking to buy the team. The professional aspect of the team is largely associated with Bruce Levenson.

Bruce Levenson is a partner and co-founder at United Communications Group. He is also an Atlanta Spirit, LLC owner. The businessman co-founded United Communications Group with Ed Peskowitz, and after nearly 30 years with the company, Levenson continues to play a significant role in acquisitions for the firm. Before founding his firm with Peskowitz, Bruce Levenson was a writer for Observer Publishing and the Washington Star.

In addition to these notable business accomplishments, Levenson also served as a director for TechTarget.com. He was also on the Board of Directors for the Newsletter and Electronic Publishers Association. Levenson served as the I Have a Dream Foundation president, and is involved in a number of philanthropic ventures. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Washtington University, and has a law degree from Washington D.C.’s American University.

Levenson is also responsible for hiring the bankers who sold the Atlanta Hawks. Inner Circle Sports and Goldman Sachs sold the team and its operating rights to Philips Arena, which is the location where the Hawks play when they have home games. Goldman Sachs informed and convinced Bruce Levenson that it could get around $1 billion for Philips Arena’s operating right, and for the Atlanta Hawks team franchise. However, the co-founder of Ares Management LP, Tony Ressler, won the auction for the team when he bid $730 million. While this is still a considerable amount, the person who most closely predicted the price of the sale was Andrew Zimbalist, an economist who predicted that the transaction would be between $700 million and $750 million.

This could have left a considerable amount of money on the table. However, Levenson’s business savvy still brings about a considerable amount of money for his future and current business ventures.

An American Success Story

Born on October 1st, 1949, in Washington D.C., Bruce Levenson is an American success story. The American university graduate, first tried his hand at journalism for the Washington Star. Later in 1977, he published a newsletter, called “Oil Express”, under the United Communications Group, which he co-founded. The company grew to acquire more newsletters all focused on the oil industry, and developed databases such as the Oil Price Information Service. United Communications Group is privately owned, and it administers data and information over a wide range of industries. Among Mr. Levenson’s other endeavors are TechTarget, and he is a founding director BIA Digital Partners. In 1997 he was drafted into the Software and Information Industry Association’s Hall of Fame.

His philanthropy is renown, and he is a founder of the U.S. Holocaust Museum. The museum is located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., where it draws international attention with visits of foreign dignitaries from over 132 countries from around the world. Mr. Levenson makes significant donations to other charitable causes such as Hoop Dreams, I Have a Dream Foundation, SEED Foundation, Seeds of Peace, and he is financially responsible for the University of Maryland’s Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership. Also, he supports The Jewish Federation, Birthright Israel, and the BBYO.

In 2004, he purchased the Atlanta Hawks and Phillips Arena, and Mr. Levenson formed the group called Atlanta Hawks LLC to purchase the franchise from Turner Broadcasting. When he decided to sell the team and the rights to the Phillips Arena in 2014, Goldman Sacs promised it could get at least $1 billion dollars for the sale. The rights to the arena and the ownership of the Atlanta Hawks went for only $750 million at auction to Andrew Zimbalist, but the sale netted Mr. Levenson a very hefty profit.

Mr. Levenson, whose mother-in-law is a Holocaust survivor, is married to Karen Boyarsky. They spend their time between their homes in Atlanta, Georgia and Potomic, Maryland.