Hawks Sale Uncloaks Stakes of NBA Lockout

Hawks Sale Uncloaks Stakes of NBA Lockout

On Sunday, the identity of the secret Atlanta Hawks bidder was revealed as California businessman Alex Meruelo, a 48-year-old whose made his mark with a Latino-focused pizza chain, a Spanish-language TV station and a casino in Reno. In other words, his history is a bit different than, say, that of Ted Turner.

Of course, the NBA lockout is still on. It's more "on" than ever: there has been one bargaining session in 38 days since the lockout began, and that simply preceded a federal lawsuit filed by the NBA which alleged bad faith. The NBA owners still claim they need a reworked system that ensures profitability; the NBA players are still unwilling to hand over a substantial portion of their future paychecks because some owners made bad decisions (either buying into the league or paying the wrong players).

Alex Meruelo's entrance will not help one little bit of this.

The terms of the Hawks purchase aren't yet known, but they will be soon. And I guarantee that the Atlanta Spirit group -- a sort of Four Horsemen partnership that owned the Hawks and recently relocated Thrashers and delivered to Atlanta sports pestilence and famine -- will turn at least a small profit on the sale. The SpiritĀ (not this Spirit, FYI) paid about $200 million for the Hawks in 2004. There's also $120 million in debt on Philips Arena. Fans in Atlanta will go to fisticuffs if you allege that the Spirit is not the worst ownership group in sports. And these dudes, no doubt, turned a profit on a seven-year investment that included two playoff series wins.

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