The Atlanta Hawks are a professional basketball team based in Atlanta, Georgia and are part of the National Basketball Association (NBA) Eastern Conference Southeast Division. The team was established in 1946 and became a part of the NBA in 1951 and were coached by Red Auberbach. The Hawks have been a successful and competitive team in the NBA winning the division title several times. They first earned their first title in 1970 and earned the title again in 1980, 1987, 1994 and 2015. The Hawks have an intense rivalry with both the Boston Celtics and the Orlando Magic.
Bruce Levenson was the majority owner of the team until he decided to step down in June 2015. He is the co-founder and Partner at United Communication Group (UGC) along with Ed Peskowits. Before UGC, he wrote for the Washington Star and Observer Publishing after graduating from law school at American University. Additionally, he has served time on the Board of Directors of the Newsletter and Electronic Publishers Association and is involved with numerous charities such as the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., and the Seed Foundation for underserved students.
In October 2014, Bruce Levenson hired bankers, Goldman Sachs and Inner Circle Sports to sell the Atlanta Hawks. The bankers convinced Bruce that the team could sell for one billion dollars. Many other experts believed the team would sell in the region of nine hundred million to one billion dollars, but others had suggested a lower price. Andrew Zimbalist, a sports economist, predicted a price between seven hundred million to seven hundred and fifty million dollars. The team went on the market in January 2015 and was purchased by Tony Ressler on April 22, 2015, at a price of eight hundred and fifty million dollars.
In June 2015, the NBA announced that the sale of the Atlanta Hawks to The group led by Tony Ressler was approved. Tony Ressler is an entrepreneur and philanthropist. He is the owner of the private equity and investment firm Apollo Global Management and is also the co-founder of the private equity firm Ares Management as well as a real estate developer. Existing Hawks CEO Steve Koonin and Coach Mike Budenholzer remain with the team.