A group headed by billionaire financier Antony Ressler agreed to purchase the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks for $850 million, the latest surprising turn regarding the team that has exceeded expectations this season and made the playoffs with the best record in the Eastern Conference.
“We are honored and thrilled to have been chosen to become the new stewards of the Hawks, ” said Ressler in a statement through the team. “We respect the NBA’s approval process and, accordingly, can say no more other than we are incredibly excited by the Hawks’ success and wish them luck in the playoffs.”
The deal is likely to receive the necessary approval of three-fourths of the NBA’s other 29 owners because Ressler is already a minority owner of Major League Baseball’s Milwaukee Brewers and is familiar to the NBA as a result of his attempt to purchase the Los Angeles Clippers in 2014, AP said.
The group of investors includes former NBA all-star Grant Hill, billionaire Spanx founder Sara Blakely and her husband Jesse Itzler.
Ressler, who is estimated to be worth $1.43 billion, co-founded Apollo Management with his billionaire brother-in-law Leon Black. He joined the ranks of the world’s billionaires last year after the IPO of Ares Management, a private equity and investment firm he co-founded in 1997, according to Forbes.
Both the 55-year-old financier and his wife, TV actress Jami Gertz, are Jewish.
The Hawks finished the regular season with a 60-22 record, setting the franchise record for wins and qualifying for the playoffs as the No.1 seed in the Eastern Conference. They also had an average attendance of over 17, 400 per game, the most in team history, AP said.
The Hawks currently lead the Brooklyn Nets 2-0 in their playoff series.
In September, co-owner Bruce Levenson announced he was selling his stake in the team following the discovery of a racially inflammatory e-mail that he had written in 2012.