McDavid’s win is painful reminder of Atlanta Spirit’s birth

Here's David McDavid at his home in Fort Worth, Texas, in 2003, when he looked to be the next Hawks and Thrashers owner.

Here's David McDavid at his home in Fort Worth, Texas, in 2003, when he looked to be the next Hawks and Thrashers owner.

Two years ago, when would-be Hawks and Thrashers owner David McDavid kicked Turner Broadcasting System’’s butt in court, I asked him about the Atlanta Spirit group. It was like lighting a blowtorch.

“Do you know what a camel is? It’s a horse designed by a committee,” McDavid said in that December 2008 interview. “Those franchises are being run by a committee. They’re a camel. If I had taken over, nobody would be fighting, unless I was fighting with myself. … Does that guarantee anything? No. But I will always believe I would have done a better job.”

On Monday night, when Turner confirmed McDavid’s butt-kicking by surrendering out of court, I phoned McDavid again. This time, I only got his phone machine.

“This is Cutter Mac. You know what to do,” the recorded greeting said.

My guess is, he was out celebrating. I just wanted to ask a few questions. Also maybe tell him he was my hero, which is something I never imagined saying to a used car salesman.

I think these were all of the Atlanta Spirit owners at the beginning, but I'm not certain.

This covers most of the Atlanta Spirit executive branch at the start.

Follow this, will you? It’s a combination of Atlanta sports fans’ trail of tears and McDavid’s improbable road to new-found wealth and good fortune, not that he didn’t have that before.

♦ In 2003, McDavid was on the verge of purchasing the Hawks, Thrashers and Philips Arena operating rights, signing a letter of intent. The sale price: $96 million.

♦ While McDavid stood at the front door, he didn’t realize Turner executives had slipped out the back door to negotiate the sale to a group of investors later to be known as the Atlanta Spirit (as well as less printable things). McDavid filed a breach-of-contract lawsuit.

♦ The Hawks and Thrashers floundered. Bruce Levenson, Steve Belkin, Michael Gearon and others came to set new standards for embarrassing ownership, even suing each other in court. They lost millions. Meanwhile, McDavid won his suit and was awarded $281 million. So not only did McDavid win a judgment for nearly triple of his intended purchase price, he didn’t lose the millions the Spirit did as the franchises struggled and the economy tanked.

♦ It is now 2010. Belkin and the non-Belkins still have not resolved their legal issues. The Hawks are better but both teams still are being run on tight budgets — particularly the Thrashers, who reportedly are available for purchase and will have one of the NHL’s lowest payrolls again next season. McDavid? Not only is he out of this mess, but Turner officially dropped its appeal of the $281 million judgment.

The two sides reached a settlement but terms were not disclosed.

“It’s been settled and we’re happy that it’s been resolved,” Mickey Mixson, McDavid’s attorney, said.

Atlanta sports fans can only wonder what might have been.

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82 comments Add your comment


August 30th, 2010
9:12 pm

“cutter mac”? wtf?


August 30th, 2010
9:23 pm

McDavid may have also moved the Thrashers to Houston.

I think Gearon is great; if they can hang on, the Hawks’ situation may turn out well.


August 30th, 2010
9:26 pm

Look at that looser, i’d rather have the ASG………….. Yea i said it

JK Sockey

August 30th, 2010
9:38 pm

If I weren’t a sock puppet, I’d shoot myself in the face.

Najeh Davenpoop

August 30th, 2010
9:38 pm

Nobody really knows what David McDavid McDavid McDavid McDavid would have been like as an owner, but it’s hard to imagine him being worse than the DASG.

JK Sockey

August 30th, 2010
9:40 pm

Hey JS, if you have McDavid’s phone number, can you loan it to me? I want to ask him for some money.


August 30th, 2010
9:44 pm

Not sure there is much debate about who would have run the Thrashers better?

I am about as big of a fan as there is and they lost me. Its been over 10 years and I now have a wife and kids and no extra $ to blow on games.

A strong team will go a long way…but it is already too late for me, hopefully some new fans can keep the team rooted here.

I do like watching in HD when available.

Sage of Bluesland

August 30th, 2010
10:11 pm

Why anyone subsidizes this epitome of incompetence, I’ll never understand.

The Thrashers are pitiful, consistently re-arranging the chairs on the Titanic.

The Hawks are back to overall irrelevance; back to the early 90s, when the team was ‘good’ enough to make the playoffs, but not enough to seriously challenge the big boys…May as well sell the assets and rebuild again, praying for luck on who is available and that the correct picks are made this time around.

The Thrashers? They have the bumbling, lisping buffoon at the helm of the organization ever since their inception (Don Waddell). They’ve been doomed from day-one–yet this idiot gets “promoted”!

These teams are mere schedule-fodder for the real teams in their leagues. How sad. The people of this city deserve better….but that’s where the real fans must step up and vote with their wallet.

Whoever subsidizes this shameful incompetence is enabling this pitiful excuse for ownership.

ASG = bunch of clowns

August 30th, 2010
10:16 pm

If the ASG sells the Thrashers to someone who moves them out of town, I’ll stop supporting the Hawks. Not only that but I’ll key Rutherford Seydel’s car multiple times.

the ownership situation just plain sucks

August 30th, 2010
10:25 pm

Don Waddell getting promoted reminds me of the time on Seinfeld when Elaine keeps promoting Eddie Sherman (the guy who wore army fatigues) when she was in charge at J. Peterman.

“Sleep tight mates, in your quilted Chambray nightshirts.”

Jeff Schultz

August 30th, 2010
10:32 pm

Wesleywhatwhat — I think it comes from the fact he and his wife own “cutter” horses.

Jeff Schultz

August 30th, 2010
10:33 pm

Blazerdawg — He wouldn’t have moved Thrashers. Might’ve sold them to somebody who’d want to move, but no way league would’ve allowed that back in 03 or 04.

Jeff Schultz

August 30th, 2010
10:34 pm

JK Sockey — That almost certainly would leave a mark. Or a hole.

cattle dawg

August 30th, 2010
10:38 pm

Karl ravich is really talkin smack about the braves tarp being rolled up on the side of the field..


August 30th, 2010
10:45 pm

Are you people kidding me ASG is worst thing to ever happen what are guys smoking McDavid would have drafted CP3 .

cattle dawg

August 30th, 2010
10:50 pm

Wrong board, sorry.

Now you see em, now they burnt off!

August 30th, 2010
10:54 pm

Do you think he will buy Mike Woodson’s missing eyebrows now with all his money?

The Ayatollah

August 30th, 2010
11:01 pm

Ask yourself this question.

Would you rather have one possible idiot, or EIGHT of them?

From this, all answers will spring….


August 30th, 2010
11:04 pm

Spirit clowns have set the bar so low it would be almost impossible for McDavid to have done worse. With this non-taxable windfall maybe Cutter Mac is game for another pursuit. Please, just get rid of these Spirit jackals and their chump GM.

5150 P.O.A.D

August 31st, 2010
12:19 am

I wish Eric Vale would punch all the owners in the mouth while Tom Lysiak pulled their sweaters over their heads. Don’t worry owners that light you see ain’t a train coming down the tracks. It is the Zamboni beothces.

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

Hawks & Thrashers Season Ticket Holder

August 31st, 2010
12:55 am

In terms of ineptitude, the Atlanta Spirit Group is the “Clayton County School System” and the “Obama Administration” of professional sports ownership and management.

These are, by far, the most incompetent, uninformed and out-of-touch people with whom I have ever had the misfortune of doing business.

Hawks & Thrashers Season Ticket Holder

August 31st, 2010
1:10 am

Oops-meant the “Bush Administration.” Please accept my apologies.

Hawks & Thrashers Season Ticket Holder

August 31st, 2010
1:54 am

No, FAKE “Hawks & Thrashers Season Ticket Holder” @ 1:10am, I definitely meant the worthless, inept, corrupt and clueless “Obama Administration.”

Any given member of Atlanta Spirit could easily challenge Obama for the undisputed title of “Biggest Liar on Earth” or “World’s Dumbest Person.”

Bush is an idiot, too, but even he is smarter (albeit marginally) than the ASG owners or BarryO.

Get your own blog handle, Loser.


August 31st, 2010
4:26 am

No i think your dad is the “Worlds Dumbest Person” for sleeping with his cousin and making you.

Barnacle Bill Bavasi

August 31st, 2010
5:53 am

I thought it was cutting horses, there cowboy. Maybe he’s Cutter like the Capt. Spaulding character in Rob Zombie’s House of 1,000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects.


August 31st, 2010
6:30 am

Would he have had the cash to survive the huge losses of the last 5-6 years?

Legal eagle

August 31st, 2010
6:34 am

The settlement was 48 percent of the judgment … $135 million.

Coolest in the Clutch

August 31st, 2010
6:41 am

Nesbitt foe Heisman
. . . . .Tech to unveil Nesbitt Heisman campaign TODAY !

Nesbitt for Heisman

August 31st, 2010
6:42 am


August 31st, 2010
7:26 am

Take the 48 percent winnings and don’t ever consider getting involved with the Hawks again. Let them bumble around with E#2 taking 25% of the payroll while the rest of the team fights form the scraps.

The ASG has so much knowledge that even the fan base can’t understand their brilliance.

Old stogie

August 31st, 2010
7:32 am

Dear Mr Schultz,
You have crossed the line. Your personal feelings towards the ASG has caused you to break every fair journalistic rule and some human ones well. I hope those in charge at the AJC finally fire you for the mean spirited, unfair, unprofessional, hack that you are. I hope the ASG now has all they need to sue you and the AJC. I have a legal background and I will forward my thoughts for free to the ASG.
Sports is a business for some and entertainment for others. An escape from life for many. Your hate and grudge for the ASG is sad. With that said, your column does not give you the right to just use it as a bully pulpit!
These people, fellow humans have lives and families and your attacks has to hurt nice people.
AJC – grow a set and finally fire this writer!


August 31st, 2010
7:40 am

Old Stogie, are you kidding me? Who cares if they are nice people??? They are a pathetic excuse for an organization and it is the worst kept secret in sports. Personal feelings? What planet have you been living on? They subject fans to year after year of ineptitude…the Thrashers have been so poorly run it is inexcuable, there is no accountability. They have NO playoff wins in a decade. The Hawks, while being competitive have NO chance to win a title because they can’t attarct free agents…why? Because their ownership is a joke. They kept a bad GM too long and kept a mediocre coach too long. The fans deserve more.

Old stogie

August 31st, 2010
8:06 am

Atticus, you are why a hack like JS still has a job. You are who he writes to, to get people fired up instead of informed. So many sports teams struggle for much longer figuring out how to win. The prior owners did much worse, and had totally given up on these teams. The Hawk team given to these owners won 13 games, and in a very short time have built a young fun team. I bet many other fan bases would welcome that kind of grow and leadership.
I have been following the Thrashers moves this year and I am very excited about this season. I understand the business of sports and how hard it is to win. I am a fan, support my teams and never turn my unhappiness to personal attacks! I may disagree with moves and choices, and verbalize my opinion, but I never make it personal and also give credit when it is due.
I enjoy reading the opinions of many educated fans.


August 31st, 2010
8:14 am

@Old Stogie I am not sure what article you read but sure wasn’t this article. LOL You said “You have crossed the line” How did he cross a line. I could care less what a writer says as long as it is true. Now on to lying writers please Jeff can you write an article stating that Denver wants to trade Carmelo for Crawford and Marvin and a 1st round pick. And that Carmelo would love to play in the city of Atlanta with Joe Johnson thanks. It will do a lot to get the ball rolling and it will help ASG out in the fans eyes since OLD STOGIE thinks you hate them. LOL

ATL Sports Fan

August 31st, 2010
8:16 am

Old Stogie: He’s a columnist…he writes his opinions. No “journalistic” rules are broken, nor any legal ones. Don’t like it? Don’t read his stuff any more…it’s a free country. Besides, Terrance Moore was far worse!

1990 J-school alum

August 31st, 2010
8:26 am

I like JS and I also know the difference between an opinion column and a sports story.

If we’re not going to criticize those in the public arena because “these people, fellow humans have lives and families and your attacks has to hurt nice people” then we should just turn off our computers right now and reflect. No more political discussions, movie reviews, restaurant reviews.

Every story will be the same – “they tried hard.”

Puh-lease. Keep up the good work JS.


August 31st, 2010
8:34 am

So the ASG cheated to get the hawks and have paid dearly. Who would have thunk it. I say ASG and ill-gotten gain(the franchises). Well you reap what you sow. Best case scenario, sell 51% to McDavid and allow him to make decisions. Or sell him more of the team. ASG does not have the money to win big, McDavid does.


August 31st, 2010
8:36 am

wow… another article on the Atlanta Spirit … this gets old … very fast. As i recall, the Thrashers didn’t even make the playoffs until the ASG took over. Yeah, tough times have them thinking smarter and saving money while other teams just blow out the cash. It’s an easy economic prinicple … you sell tickets, you have more money to invest back in the team … you sell sponsorhsips, more money to invest back in the team. You “fans” are retarded …


August 31st, 2010
8:43 am

whhhhhhaaaaaa … that’s basically what i hear … sounds like a diaper needing to be changed


August 31st, 2010
8:46 am

Why did I read this? More coffee, please!


August 31st, 2010
8:47 am

oh, forgot the Hawks making the playoffs for the first time in ten years … this city is by far the worst … similar support for the Braves b/c making the playoffs just wasn’t good enough … fielding a competitive team just wasn’t good enough … always the same excuse, always the same bloggers bashing the teams … i have enough knowledge to know that it is the same bloggers bashing the team(s) time and time again … you say the same exact things time and time again … even with the offseason moves of the Thrashers & the success of the Hawks, it’s the same old crap. Seriously, the Thrashers could win the Stanley Cup and you f*&^%ing idiots would find some excuse to bash them. WORST fans hands down!!! Actually, i wouldn’t call yourselves fans … and Sage, you are no sage, you’re just a bumbling idiot who likes to listen to his own rants. Go screw yourself and piss off!


August 31st, 2010
8:50 am

uh, schultz has a personal vendetta against them … duh … it’s biased reporting. Now, i’m going to go over on the Braves blog and see what idiots are bashing the Braves there … 9-3 win, and i bet somebody complained about something …


August 31st, 2010
9:09 am

Hawks suck…always will with this ownership. Cutter Mac is sitting on millions..Who’s laughing now.

Move the Hawks and Thrashers out of this town. We all know UGA Footbal rules to sports world here.


August 31st, 2010
9:10 am

J, I am sure after last year’s historical making loss in the playoffs that the Hawks are beating people down trying to get all the tickets. Are you kidding me?
You give one player 25% of the money you are going to spend as a team. Really? That makes financial sense? All it takes is for no-sho Joe to start off slow and watch the home crowd get on him good. For a guy who is supposed to be a leader, he is anything but a leader.
The ASG has been spitting bull to the fans of Atlanta for years; now they have to sell tickets like Delta and AirTran….good luck with that. Memo to the ASG: the fans aren’t coming to see your team…they are coming to see the Heat, Kobe and the Celtics.
You deserve what you get with the moves that you have made.

Jeff, writing about the ASG gives you a job for life….easy topic because of their intelligence above all others. I am still waiting for any hire the ASG makes that impresses the fan base…those who waste their money on a team that simply quit….refunds? Are you kidding me? Giving the leader of this bunch a raise after the last 2 seasons? Are you kidding me? My future earnings will be spent more wisely after the summer of dull.

The Real JC

August 31st, 2010
9:21 am

Wow, Gearon Sr. doesn’t look like a ghost in that picture. Also, why is Levenson’s arm around him instead of his own son’s?

The Real JC

August 31st, 2010
9:24 am

Old Stogie = Levenson? Atticus = Bernie Mullin?

Jim Friendly

August 31st, 2010
9:31 am

uga footbal, as you uga grads spell it, simply SUCKS like Hell.

A bunch of young THUGS, a coach who is an IDIOT and cannot even clean himself and a complete waste of time for everyone. Watching my grass grow is far more interesting than anything uga, YUCK !

Like the bumper sticker once read… “Can the big dawg READ”… NO !

Jim Friendly

August 31st, 2010
9:40 am

Oh yes, old stoge or whatever, I think your “legal” comments are simply NUTS.

You have ZERO clue about what you are speaking of and futhermore, Mr.Schultz, is 100% correct in his evaluation of Atlanta STUPID Group.

rutherford snydel is a LIAR first off. In 2007 raising the SE Banner, he told the crowd, “We will do everything to bring The Stanley Cup here”. Then we watched star player after star player leave because they have no clue as to running a business.

they are simply put, stoge… Stupid Fools !!!

snydle needs to be BITCH Slapped across his pantywaste face for lying. As for drunk Levenson, a Mental Hospital would be a good place to start.

So go take your sicking support for these LOSERS and go away, You are just as STUPID as they are… And I am sure Jeff is scared to death you have a “legal background”, You’re a cop I bet and writing a parking ticket IS a legal background, What a Nutcase you are !

Keep you the GREAT WORK Jeff !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Chris P

August 31st, 2010
9:41 am

The real loser is Atlanta for having to read crap like this from a crap sports writer.