If you want to get the measure for a value of a business than look at how many people line up to buy it when it goes for sale. Bruce Levenson had been the owner of the NBA franchise Atlanta Hawks for over a decade when he decided to step away from the company, putting it up for sale. The NBA has never been more alive, at least in terms of top heavy rivalries, and that made the decision to sell the Hawks a great financial move. Levenson quickly found that offers were coming to the table in record speed. Leading the way was a fund manager by the name of Antony Ressler.
Antony Ressler isn’t just another suit with a deep pocketbook, there’s more to him than that. Ressler is a minority owner of the Milwaukee Brewers of the MLB but he had been trying to buy his way into an NBA team for the past couple of years. Ressler had approached Steve Ballmer when the Clippers were for sale but he flinched at the more than $2 billion selling price. The Clippers are a top tier franchise but not worth that kind of money at least in Ressler’s mind. Then a short year later the Hawks went up fro sale for $850 million. The price was right.
For as different in perception the Hawks and Clippers are, their output over the past several seasons has been almost identical. Both teams according to ESPN, are filled with talented players that seem to top out before their respective Conference Finals. If Ressler could get the Hawks for half of the price, why wouldn’t he? Ressler approached UCG owner Bruce Levenson in order to buy the team but he didn’t do it alone. Ressler had former NBA star Grant Hill at his back along with a host of other people interested in the purchase.