Dikembe Mutombo played five seasons for the Hawks from 1996-2001 where he twice won the Defensive Player of the Year award.
Photo: Leigh Vogel
Photo: Leigh Vogel

Mutombo shows interest in buying Hawks (updated)

Former Hawks player Dikembe Mutombo has met with a group of investors about joining their bid to buy the Atlanta Hawks.

The group, which is made up in part of Atlanta businessmen, has begun the preliminary work to get involved in the sale of the team. Talks are ongoing. The group may also consist of other former NBA players. They hope to meet with the NBA commissioner’s office in the near future.

Mutombo did not return a message left at the office of his foundation in Atlanta.

Mutombo, from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, played five seasons for the Hawks from 1996-2001 where he twice won the Defensive Player of the Year award.

Currently, at least a majority share of 50.1 percent of the Hawks is available. The Washington ownership group, led by Bruce Levenson and his 24 percent individual share, are selling their stake in the team. Levenson agreed to sell his stake after a racially inflammatory email he wrote in 2012 was discovered as part of an internal investigation. The email was uncovered following a racially insensitive comment made by general manager Danny Ferry during a conference call with ownership and management in June concerning potential free agents. Co-owner Michael Gearon called for Ferry to resign or be fired for cause following the comment about Luol Deng, who the Hawks pursued but signed with the Heat. Ferry is on an indefinite leave of absence.

It still has not been determined whether the Atlanta group, which owns 34 percent, and/or the New York group, which owns 16 percent, will sell their stakes in the team. The ownership group has yet to hold a meeting to determine what percentage of the Hawks will be sold. Also, the process of hiring an investment banking firm to vet prospective buyers is on going.

Both Hawks CEO Steve Koonin and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed have said that many individuals and groups have expressed interest in the Hawks. The formal process of selling the team, including vetting those who have expressed interest, cannot begin until it is determined the exact percentage that is available.

Hawks legend Dominique Wilkins has also expressed interest in being part of a group to buy the Hawks. Former NBA player Chris Webber recently announced that he would be part of a group that will pursue a majority interest in the Hawks. The name of New York entertainment lawyer Doug Davis has also surfaced as a prospective buyer.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.