You might say these Hawks have their eye on the ball. Hawks Basketball operates the Atlanta Hawks professional basketball franchise. The ballclub was founded in Illinois as the Tri-Cities Blackhawks of the National Basketball League in 1946. The team joined the NBA in 1949, shortened its name, and roosted in Milwaukee and St. Louis (winning its only title in 1958) before settling in Atlanta in 1968. The Hawks were playoff contenders in the 1980s and 1990s, thanks to players such as Dominique Wilkins, but never made the Finals. Investment group Atlanta Spirit, which also owns the Atlanta Thrashers hockey team and operates Atlanta's Philips Arena, has owned the Hawks franchise since 2004.
After enduring nearly a decade without a playoff berth, Hawks fans cheered when their team reached the post-season in 2008. The run for the NBA Finals was short-lived, however, as Atlanta was ejected from the tournament in the first round by the Boston Celtics. Longtime general manager Billy Knight announced his resignation at the end of that season; former Seattle SuperSonics GM Rick Sund was named as his replacement.
Partners in the Atlanta Spirit investment group have been battling in court over control of the sports enterprise. Entrepreneur Steve Belkin announced he would sell his 30% stake in Atlanta Spirit, but the sale has been held up by disagreements over the value of that investment.
The investment group purchased both its sports franchises from Turner Sports, a unit of Time Warner's Turner Broadcasting, in 2004 for $250 million. – less