Respected journalists Ian Thomsen of SI.com and David Aldridge of NBA.com have reported that the Atlanta Hawks are about to be sold to a mystery buyer. Bruce Levenson, one of the Hawks’ many owners, said Thomsen’s initial report was “not true.”
Still, whenever the words “mystery buyer” arise, it’s human nature to try and affix a name and face. Consider me human. Possible buyers for the Hawks could – could, I said — include:
Who: Bernie Marcus. Why him? The Home Depot co-founder and Georgia Aquarium patriarch might be weary of seeing Arthur Blank get all the civic kudos. Possible complication: If Marcus thought beluga whales could be intransigent creatures, wait until he tries to get Josh Smith to stop hoisting jump shots.
Who: Mike Woodson. Why him? He used to coach the Hawks but always claimed, due to outside business interests, he didn’t need the money. Possible complication: First move would be to fire Larry Drew, his former assistant who was promoted to head coach on the dubious-but-apparently-compelling argument that Mean Old Woody never listened to his clever ideas.
Who: David McDavid. Why him? The Texas car dealer tried to buy the Hawks (and the Thrashers, and Philips Arena) way back when, only to see the Atlanta Spirit cut in front. Possible complication: McDavid won $281 million in a lawsuit against Time Warner and has never had to sit through a losing game. At last check, the man is not nuts.
Who: Jane Fonda. Why her? Her ex-husband used to own the team. Possible complication: First move would be to change the team’s uniforms to incorporate leotards and leg warmers.
Who: Steve Belkin. Why him? He used to own part of the Hawks (and the Thrashers, et cetera) before his Spirit brethren bought him. Possible complication: First move would be to dump Joe Johnson, his rationale being, “I told you he wasn’t worth that much.”
Who: Joe Johnson. Why him? Owing to his $123 million contract, he’s rich enough to own a team. Possible complication: First move would be to carry the Iso-Joe offense to its logical extreme, meaning he’d fire all the coaches and all the other players and let the player-owner take every shot.
Who: Billy Knight. Why him? The former Hawks general manager has had three years to plot his next move. Possible complication: Next move would be to draft more 6-foot-8 wingmen.
Who: Don Leebern. Why him? The powerful Georgia booster might be looking for a new challenge for Suzanne Yoculan, whom he identifies as his fiancee. Possible complication: Irresistible Force, meet Immovable Object. Could even the decorated gymnastics coach manage to keep Marvin Williams from falling down so often?
Who: Dominique Wilkins. Why him? He’s the greatest player in Atlanta Hawks history and has always longed for a bigger role. Possible complication: Should the Hawks lose, under no circumstances should a Philips Arena patron approach Wilkins afterward and ask for a refund. The last such postgame monetary solicitation ended badly for the solicitor.
Who: Gary Bettman. Why him? The NHL commissioner made his reputation as David Stern’s NBA aide-de-camp. Possible complication: Disgruntled Thrashers fans would form a human chain around Philips Arena before every Hawks game, preventing entry to all who would subsidize a venture of Benedict Bettman’s.
Who: Justin Bieber. Why him? His mentor Usher owns a part of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Possible complication: First move would be to order Zaza Pachulia to adopt the Bieb-style bowl haircut. Zaza’s first response would be to head-butt his new owner.
Who: Bruce Levenson. Why him? Could there be a more mysterious buyer than the part-owner who claimed there was no mystery buyer? Possible complication: With the pesky Gearons out of the way, the path might seem clear for Levenson’s plans for world domination. But let’s see if the Hawks can reach the Eastern Conference finals first.
By Mark Bradley