In two columns a few days apart, Jason Whitlock and Adrian Wojnarowski appear to have puzzled out what happened in Atlanta: in essence, Michael Gearon, who had once had far more influence in the Hawks ownership group, was marginalized by majority owner Bruce Levenson and Danny Ferry, and when he had a chance to strike back, he took it.
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In his column, which ran first, Whitlock said this: "Levenson is a victim of toxic, internal-ownership dysfunction within the Hawks organization. And maybe the NBA is about to lose a good owner and a good man, one who had the courage to speak out publicly for the removal of Sterling, because few people have the courage to objectively and transparently judge his 2012 email."
Wojnarowski: "One of the owners on the line in June, Michael Gearon Jr., had once been a far greater power player within the franchise. No more. Levenson and Ferry had neutralized him, and Gearon's days of input into basketball decisions had been long gone. He disdained Ferry, and told people often inside and outside the organization: He longed for Ferry's ouster as GM...And yet, for as quickly as Gearon fired off an indignant email to Levenson detailing the Deng comments on the call and demanding Ferry's dismissal, Gearon's immediate reaction to Levenson's 2012 email...inspired a far more matter-of-fact tone...In all the twisted wreckage of these Hawks, make no mistake: Gearon is no whistle-blowing hero for racial justice, just as Ferry is no victim for falling into the trap...There are no heroes here, no winners – not even Michael Gearon, with whom the league office is livid. He had been hellbent on bringing down the power structure in Atlanta, including the GM, and yet perhaps history will remember this as the biggest irony of all: Danny Ferry did it to himself.
Maybe what Commissioner Adam Silver should work for is a complete overhaul of ownership in Atlanta. This sort of thing is completely ridiculous.
One final point on Atlanta and pro sports. Other than the Braves, who have been successful for a long time and who draw regionally, how often do the Hawks and Falcons draw big crowds? When have they ever? It's not even just Atlanta - the Hawks were previously in Buffalo, the Tri-Cities (as the Blackhawks), Milwaukee and St. Louis before settling in Atlanta in 1968.
The Hawks haven't won a title since leaving St. Louis and since leaving St. Louis have never gotten past the second round of the playoffs, without a bye (gone since 1967).
In 1979-80, former Vic Bubas assistant Hubie Brown led Atlanta to a 50-win season - and averaged 10,972 fans per game.
Actually, that was a high point for the Hawks, who didn't get above 10,000 again until the Human Highlight Reel era with Dominique Wilkins.
Historically, the Hawks and Falcons have defined mediocrity, and who bothers to turn out for that?