(UPDATED BELOW: 4:15 p.m.)
It remains to be seen if the Thrashers are sold and moved to Winnipeg, or if the Hawks and Philips Arena operating rights are sold to new ownership. But that’s the way to bet.
Also, don’t bet on J.B. Smith.
I’m not going to spend a lot of time on Smith because appearances are that he’s just one more name in a sea of pretenders who claim to be interested in one or all of the Atlanta Spirit properties. But he and others have never taken the necessary steps to prove their financial worth (assuming they have sufficient worth).
Smith has been pimped by some as this shadowy, mysterious figure who was going to swoop in and buy the teams and arena and save the day. One of his mouthpieces is a guy named Jay Clemons, who has written about fantasy football for SI.com. Clemons, however, now doesn’t hide the fact that he is Smith’s spokesperson. He has informed all on Twitter that all media inquiries for Smith can go through him.
So much for objectivity. At least now, he’s not pretending to not have an agenda.
(UPDATE: Clemons has changed the name of his Twitter account and no longer works for SI.com.)
Anyway, back to Smith. The Journal-Constitution has been aware of him and other potential bidders for some time, but we like to practice this thing called responsible journalism. I know, go figure. Believe it or not, a line does exist between news and Twitter.
But now that Smith’s name is out — thanks to my pal and former AJC staffer Craig Custance of The Sporting News, who did some terrific reporting and was able to reach Smith — I thought this was worth mentioning.
Two companies, iSekurity and Equity 11, have put out a news release, disassociating themselves with Smith. In fact, the headline on website reads, “JB Smith Not Associated With Equity 11 and iSekurity.”
An Equity 11 website still lists Smith as managing partner, but the news release was issued by chief operating officer Matt Bitonti and quotes chairman Jim Juliano. According to the release, the Oakland County (Mich.) Circuit Court has a $1.9 million judgement against Smith.
Here’s the release:
WARREN, MI–(Marketwire – May 18, 2011) – Equity 11, Ltd. and iSekurity, an identity theft security and restoration firm comprised of former United States Federal Agents, announced today that media reports about JB Smith’s association with Equity 11 and iSekurity are untrue.
“The shareholders of Equity 11 and iSekurity removed JB Smith from all positions he held with our companies in June 2010,” said Jim Juliano, Equity 11’s and iSekurity’s Chairman. “In addition, the Oakland County Circuit Court entered a $1.9 million judgment against JB Smith, banned him from all positions with Equity 11 and iSekurity and ordered him to relinquish any ownership in these companies. JB Smith has not made any payments on this judgment. Several other creditors are also seeking payment from JB Smith.” The Court took this action in Oakland County Circuit Court Case No. 10-1100121-CB.
UPDATE: For those inquiring about Smith’s name still being on the Equity 11 website, I just spoke to Bitonti. His comments: “Equity 11 is not operating any longer. We’re in the process of getting the website taken down.”
Bitonti acknowledged that Smith once ran Equity 11, which was over iSekurity, but that hasn’t been the case since June of 2010. “This happened a long time,” Bitonti said, adding that the news release was issued Wednesday only because Smith’s name came up as being connected with the company.
He declined to answer any other questions about Smith or his interest in the teams.
One postscript. Clemons claims on his Twitter feed that Smith plans to attend a Thrashers’ select-a-seat day Saturday at Philips Arena, assuming such an event still takes place. Don’t hold your breath.
By Jeff Schultz