Bruce Levenson & The Selling Of The Atlanta Hawks

One of America’s favorite sports to both watch and play is basketball. This is especially true with young boys who are often seen playing basketball on the school playground, in their driveway or the nearby park. The one organization that is known around the world is the National Basketball Association, better known as the NBA. There are 29 teams within the organization from the United States and 1 from Canada. The NBA is also a member of USAB (USA Basketball). USA Basketball is recognized by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA). The NBA was created on June 6, 1946 in New York City and now can be seen around the world.

American businessman Bruce Levenson was born to a Jewish family on October 1, 1949 in Washington DC. After growing up in Chevy Chase, Maryland, Levenson went on to become a student in St. Louis at Washington University. Later, he graduated from law school at American University. Levenson took night classes and worked as a journalist at Washington Star.

In 1977, Levenson co-founded United Communications Group (UCG) with Ed Peskowitz. It was started in Leveons’s apartment and focused on developments in the oil industry.The company published a newlestter called Oil Express. Over time, UCG bought out other newsletters which lead the company to lanch databases such as Oil Price INformation Service (OPIS).

Atlanta Spirit LLC, which is now known as Atlanta Hawks LLC, was formed in 2004 in order to purchase the Atlanta Hawks from Turner Broadcasting. The original deal included the purchase of Atlanta Thrashers. The NHL team was sold in 2011.

It was announced that the Atlanta Hawks was up for sale in January. Levenson hired Goldman Sachs and Inner Circle Sports back in October 2014. They were to sell the Atlanta Hawks and the operating rights to Philips Arena. Levenson was advised that he could get at least $1 billion dollars for the team and arena’s operating rights. Unfortunately, the price was off by about 27% when it was announced that entrepreneur Tony Ressler won the auction with a $730 million dollar bid.

In reference to the lowering of the price, sports attorney Irwin Raij said, “The price reflects the strength of the NBA product right now and views as to what they think the market can become.  … This price for this team in this market will be viewed positively.” Raij, with Foley & Lardner, has facilitated the sale of other sports franchises.

The decision to sell the team didn’t come as a surprise to many, especially after the release of an email from Levenson from 2012. Since the availability of the team, Levenson and the general manager Danny Ferry were basically forced into exile.

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