By Mike Bell

In the end of The Unforgiven, Gene Hackman’s character The Sherriff, Little Bill Daggett says “I don’t deserve this”… Clint Eastwood as cold blooded killer William Munny replies before dispatching him “Deserves got nothing to do with it”.

The new Hawks ownership group headed by Antony Ressler is poised to take the reigns of a 60 win team. After a season in limbo, the architect of that team is out the door with a more than generous settlement. Needless to say a new owner doesn’t need the headache of a GM that comes with a race controversy in Atlanta. It was all tied up neatly Friday so that Ressler & Company can start with a clean slate. Is it fair? Is it what he deserves? 

Danny Ferry single handedly turned the Atlanta Hawks into championship contenders. He first made the impossible happen in the Summer of 2012 by moving Joe Johnson’s idiotic contract off the books to Brooklyn. He then erased one of former GM Billy Knight’s asinine picks from the payroll in trading Marvin Williams for an expiring contract.

Two immovable objects in the path of Hawks progress were gone, much to the chagrin of Michael Gearon Jr., one of the Seven Dwarfs that comprised the former ownership train wreck that was The Atlanta Spirit LLC.

Just to illustrate how completely dysfunctional Hawks ownership under the Atlanta Spirit was, some background… Joe Johnson was signed & traded from the Suns to Atlanta back in the Summer of 2005. It immediately created a riff between former co-owner Steve Belkin (who to his credit thought this was a really bad idea) and the dimwit Hawks owners who fancied themselves personnel experts. Law suits were then flying before Belkin was bought out.

The litigious nature of this ownership combined with the gross indifference & negligence when it came The Atlanta Thrashers…don’t get me started on how these morons lost a team to Winnipeg after lying to fans that they were not looking to sell the team!!!

It illustrates why teams need to be owned by billionaires or certainly a group of multi millionaires with a clear first amongst equals. Not a bunch of incompetent jock sniffers and Ted Turner’s relatives complete with their petty agendas.

How awful were these owners? Later we learned through a leaked e-mail that co-owner Bruce Levenson found Hawks games’ attendees, music & cheerleaders too mono-chromatic on the dark side for his and “white suburbanites” liking. If ever there was a guy that Atlantans should pick up pitchforks & torches and go after it was Levenson! His Donald Sterling level racism was certainly more clear cut than anything Danny Ferry read off a scouting report about Luol Deng…

Back to Danny Ferry…In 2013 Josh Smith demanded a King’s Ransom and Ferry wisely said good luck with that. Just 2 seasons later J-Smoove was cut by Detroit and the Hawks found themselves in the Conference Finals for the first time.

Ferry added DeMarre Carroll and Paul Millsap to the roster and after a near upset of the number one seed Pacers, Atlanta took it to a whole new level in 2014-15. But by the time the season started Ferry was persona non grata thanks to those fateful comments about Luol Deng made during a conference call with owners to discuss potential free agent moves.

As bad and as hurtful saying “Deng has some African in him” is to some people, Ferry apologized on numerous occasions. Is he a racist? How can any of us truly know the answer to that question. And if at the bare minimum he made a legitimate mistake of not proof reading there are some folks that still cannot accept his apology after a year’s suspension?

Shouldn’t the guy the NBA & the lawyers should be investigating is the dude that actually wrote that paragraph about Deng?

The fact a co-owner was rolling tape on Ferry looking for a “gotcha” moment just shows what a mess this ownership is. Michael Gearon Jr. resented that moves Ferry had made and wanted him gone. Critics of Ferry and there were many in and around the team besides Gearon including legend Dominique Wilkins were offended by Ferry’s brusque manner and an apparent disinterest in their opinions.

Bernard Taylor, from Alston and Bird, the law firm hired by the Hawks to perform an “independent investigation” of Danny Ferry concluded the comments Ferry made about then free agent Luol Deng while reading from a scouting report turned in these findings.  He wrote to Ferry that he found statements repeated from a scouting report were not motivated by “racial, ethnic, or country of origination bias or animus” by Ferry. -from The Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Ferry gets a letter from a law firm saying he’s not a racist, so he can at some point get back in the game as an NBA executive without the toxic perception. The new ownership group is spared the hassle of dealing with the Ferry controversy. 

Mike Budenholzer gets elevated to Team President and former Ferry assistant Wes Wilcox becomes GM. Will we miss Ferry’s decision making? Will the Hawks take a step backward without him? Only time will tell.

One things is indisputable. The Atlanta Spirit LLC were an embarrassment to the city of Atlanta and to the Hawks & Thrashers fans who spent good money on their product. Good riddance.

You know who really deserves to be gone? Michael Gearon Jr., guess what? He still has a piece of the action.