The greatest thing about professional sports is that every move is recorded in the history books. Every point scored gets logged, every free agent signed gets tracked, and everything in between gets talked about and dissected. So with all of this analysis going on it’s easy to start painting a picture of one’s legacy, even before they actually retire. While many focus on the head coaches and the players, we like to take a look at the NBA owners. The NBA owners are the hidden suits who pull all the strings and keep franchises on the right path or completely tear them apart. Today we’ll be looking at the former owner of the Atlanta Hawks, Bruce Levenson. The Early ’00s. When Levenson came on board to take over the Atlanta Hawks the franchise was in complete disarray. The team was resting on the laurels of players like Antoine Walker and Shareef Abdur Rahim, not exactly the cornerstones of a winning franchise. Fan attendance was also the worst in the league, easily getting left behind by every other franchise around. Despite the large market, Atlanta has always had trouble getting fans into the stands and keeping them there. Blame bad TV deals, low ceiling players, and an un-exciting roster all you want, but the facts were simple: fans weren’t showing up. So right out of the gate it was pretty clear that Levenson was taking over a team that was about as far into the hole as you can get without being ready to shut the doors. How did he fix the problems? Free Agency Gold. Most teams have a mixed record when it comes to free agency. The nature of NBA free agency, like many other pro leagues, means that you have to pay more money for the services of the better players. Add in to the fact that Atlanta is not a destination market and it’s pretty clear that the Hawks would have to pay up to pull anybody respectable into their roster. So Levenson had to pick up a free agent that would be willing to come to Atlanta while still being upper tier enough to excite the crowds and win some games. Levenson’s first big signing was Joe “ISO” Johnson. Joe Johnson was an All Star caliber shooting guard for the Suns and ready to become THE man. Atlanta ended up being the perfect fit and he turned into a nightly 20PPG scorer. Levenson also made huge deals on PRNewsWire with guys like Paul Millsap, Dennis Schroder, and Kyle Korver — all of which helped turn the team into a 60 win roster with an ECF berth last year. The Big Sale. Atlanta had the best regular season in franchise history in 2014 – 15 as the Hawks won 60 games and made it just 4 wins shy of the NBA Championship. The Hawks had seen their value double over the past two years, to $850 million, and Levenson knew that the time to sell was now. Billionaire Antony Ressler, along with his buying group, won the rights to the team at auction and Levenson passed ont he baton. The big question now is: Can Ressler keep up the momentum?