Chris Webber never really left the NBA. After retiring and ending his 15-year career (including five All-Star selections and five All-NBA spots), he began moonlighting as an analyst on TNT. Now he’s spewing his wisdom for the game over on NBA TV, and also considering a much loftier perch in the league.
“The Webber Group,” as the former star calls it via Twitter, “contacted the NBA to respectively express our intentions to acquire the majority interest of the Atlanta Hawks.” Here’s Webber’s statement in full:
Webber’s purposeful words about his interest in the team get at the reason the Hawks are on the market in the first place, and the weird history of pro basketball in Atlanta generally.
This summer, just before racist remarks made by general manager Danny Ferry were leaked, about prospective free agent signing Luol Deng — who Ferry said “has a little African in him” — current majority owner Bruce Levenson announced the team was for sale. Levenson himself was caught with his own politically correct pants down, too, in an e-mail that made the rounds.
Through all the Ferry-Levenson controversy, one thing became crystal clear: The Hawks’ organizational incompetence. They’ve simply failed — time and time again — at both appealing to their city culturally and building a team that’s more than first-round playoff fodder in the consistently weak Eastern Conference.
Whether Webber and Co. have the chutzpah and savvy needed to turn things around is unclear — there’s no sort of experience that could compare to the task of running an NBA team. But Atlanta boasts a regional population in the millions and is a proud, fertile place for sports. That they ranked 28th in attendance in 2013-14 is alarming, and tells us that whoever’s next is likely to do much better.
— John Wilmes