The Atlanta Hawks: Upward Bound

One of the NBA’s most prominent basketball teams hails from the Peach State of the Georgia. Part of the southern division of the Eastern Conference, the Atlanta Hawks team owned by Bruce Levenson was formed in 1946 out of the midwest, and was originally named the Tri-Cities Blackhawks after the Illinois cities of Moline, Rock Island, and nearby Davenport, Iowa. Between the years of 1951 and 1968, the Blackhawks underwent relocation to both Milwaukee and St. Louis, changing their team name to the Hawks. In 1968, the team moved to its current home of Atlanta, Georgia.

The team’s only NBA championship win before moving to Georgia was in 1958 while in St. Louis. Winning the game was inevitable under the leadership of coaches Tom Heinsohn and Bill Sharman, featuring NBA Hall of Famers Bill Russell and Bob Petit. Numerous championship and team awards were earned since, including 4 conference titles (1957, 1958, 1960, and 1961) and 5 division titles (1970, 1980, 1987, 1994, and 2015).

Several years had passed in Atlanta when the team had encountered problems with game venues, but media mogul Ted Turner purchased the team in 1977 to avoid its relocation out of Georgia. Turner hired Coach Hubie Brown (NBA Coach of the Year, 1978), leading the team to their first division title. In 1996, Turner completed his merger with Time Warner, and his sports franchises were inherited in the transaction.

Atlanta Spirit LLC, a sports management and investment group, purchased the Atlanta Hawks and the Atlanta Thrashers hockey team in 2004. The company was led by seven businessmen, including majority owner Bruce Levenson. Levenson, an astute businessman, received his education from both American University (Washington, D.C.) and Washington University (St. Louis). He is currently co-founder of United Communications Group, has held leadership roles with TechTarget, Inc., BIA Digital Partners II LP, and has written for the Washington Star and Observer Publishing.

Atlanta Spirit had an ongoing vision of reviving the team’s high standing in the Association after suffering a losing record for several years.The company decided to restructure the organization by employing new management and acquiring new players through trades and draft picks. As a result, the team emerged from its slump by making the playoffs for six consecutive seasons.

Game rivalry between teams has been a catalyst for large spectator turnout, and the Atlanta Hawks is no exception to the rule. For over half a century, the Boston Celtics have competed fiercely with the Atlanta Hawks since the team joined the NBA. Another rivalry between the Hawks and the Orlando Magic has existed since 2004 when Georgia-born players Dwight Howard and Josh “J-Smoove” Smith were signed.

The Atlanta Hawks is undergoing new team ownership by an investment group comprised of former NBA player Grant Hill, investment tycoon Antony Ressler, and aviation mogul Jesse Itzler. The deal was reached with Bruce Levenson and partners in early 2015 and is in the process of finalizing. The team has continued to be a dominant force to be reckoned with over the years, and the future remains promising.

Amare Stoudemire Looks to Evolve in Miami.

It has been more than a couple of years since Amare Stoudemire was truly a force in the NBA. The talented offensive power forward used to be the cream of the crop back when he was playing with Steve Nash in Phoenix. A trade to New York and a string of injuries have caused the big man to fall out of most rotations, outside of a nice little run in Dallas last season. Now, having signed on with the Miami Heat, it looks like Stoudemire is ready for a wholesale fresh start and he plans to make the most of it.

Last season the 13 year veteran averaged 12 points and 6 rebounds per game with most of those numbers coming from his time spent in New York. As a Maverick Stoudemire played a key back up role for the Dallas, averaging almost 10 PPG in their series against the Houston Rockets. Fans like Ricardo Tosto know that, as a member of the Heat, Stoudemire will back up Hassan Whiteside and star Chris Bosh.

Stoudemire has told reporters in no uncertain terms that he is ready to do what the coaches ask of him, even if it means not playing very much at all. For the Heat, Stoudemire represents a chance to add veteran depth that has impact talent onto their bench. With Whiteside prone to foul trouble and Bosh still recuperating from injury, Stoudemire could be a huge addition to the squad.

Chris Sale on Historic Run Despite Terrible White Sox Offense

Chris Sale is what you could consider as a generational talent. The intimidating yet lanky left hander has been one of the best hurlers int he league since getting his first couple of starts in the MLB. At 26 years old Chris Sale has already won 50 games with an ERA of 2.78 while collecting almost 880 strike outs along the way. Now Sale is having a historic streak with the White Sox as he has thrown double digit punch outs in eight straight games, and nine of his last ten.

Sale is most recently coming off of an 8 inning outing over the St. Louis Cardinals where he fanned 12 batters while only allowing one run and scattering six total hits. Predictably the White Sox offense was equally stymied and Sale was left with yet another no decision. Fans like Jim Dondero agree that this has to be frustrating for one of the best arms in the game but we are sure he isn’t complaining too much.

Right now Sale headlines a White Sox rotation that has been pretty solid, on the whole. Yet the bigger issue in Chicago is the fact that their bats aren’t really waking up with any urgency. As Chicago wastes these elite starts the team is tanking more and more in the standings, and likely frustrating the fanbase as a result.

Still, if nothing else we are glad to see that Sale has put his injuries behind him to resume his amazing career.

Stephen Weiss Bought out by Wings

In the salary cap era, even teams like the Detroit Red Wings are having troubles these days. In 2013 the Red Wings signed former Florida Panthers captain Stephen Weiss to a five-year deal worth $24 million. Neither the contract nor Weiss really truly worked out for the Wings. Weiss only played a total of 86 games over the past two years due to injuries. The Wings announced on Tuesday that they were going to buy out the remaining three years of his contract. To help with their current cap issues, by buying out the contract the wings will only take a $1.06 million dollar cap hit over the next several years.

Wings General Manager Ken Holland said the move was strictly based on cap issues and had nothing to do with being nonproductive. Cap issues were another reason why the Wings opted to buy out his contract this year as opposed to last year. The Red Wings will have their hands full as they are trying to resign several key players this year to new deals and Sam Tabar says even more the following year. Tomas Jurco and Gustav Nyquist both need new deals this year and Riley Sheahan, Petr Mrazek, Justin Abdelkader, Danny DeKeyser will all need to be extended next year. Holland made it clear that they were planning on giving the young guys on the team lots of playing time next year and that the time to move away from older broken players is here.