The NBA remains committed to keeping the Hawks in Atlanta through a change in majority ownership, but the city is pushing for a sale as quickly as possible.
Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed held a news conference on Friday to make it clear that NBA commissioner Adam Sterling supports Atlanta no matter who ends up owning a primary stake in the team.
Reed decided to meet with reporters after he fielded numerous questions about a one-hour meeting with Sterling and NBA executives last Friday in New York.
“The NBA is absolutely committed to the city of Atlanta,” Reed said. “That really has been the threshold question given the way these events have unfolded.”
Bruce Levenson, who owns a 50.1 percent stake in the Hawks, announced this summer that he’s selling his portion of the team. Reed wants that to happen sooner rather than later.
“There is some increasing urgency on when we will move forward with a new owner of the team,” Reed said. “I don’t know how long everyone is going to be so gracious.”
Reed said he has received numerous inquiries from parties interested in buying part or all of the franchise and he has forwarded the information to the Hawks.
“In my mind, it’s really time for us to move on with it,” Reed said. “We have people with the resources and means to buy the team.”
Now it’s up to Levensen.
“(That’s) the only element that is not functioning at this time,” Reed said.
The mayor’s hope is for the Hawks to complete a sale by the end of the year.
“We have been more than reasonable,” Reed said.
The Hawks have come under fire in the past few months for racially insensitive comments made by Levensen and by Hawks general manager Danny Ferry, who has since taken a leave of absence from his job.
“The people in Atlanta are only going to tolerate this going on for only so long,” Reed said. “I think it’s very important that we get this resolved as soon as possible. There’s growing impatience about this matter that is not readily visible.”
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