On today, the second anniversary of the relocation of the Atanta Thrashers, nothing warms my heart more than reading about how terrible their former owners are. The Atlanta Spirit group being God awful owners has always felt like a well-kept local secret. No one really fully understands how bad they are – just that "they're terrible," which is usually said in passing to a Thrashers or a Hawks fan.
When you have owners who are on film as saying "oh, we want to make it to the second round of the NBA playoffs. That's our goal," or who are guys who are falling off stage at a Widespread Panic concert, it should be as obvious as the noses on everyone's face that they're not really competent. When you lose a hockey team after years of bumbling trades and a sheer lack of business acumen, only to make a last-ditch effort to improve things, that's the ownership equivilant of a flare gun. "Oh, shit, we couldn't sign the best player our franchise has ever had because we couldn't promise him that we'd even be in this city for the duration of his career?? Let's finally pretend to fix stuff. Hey, Dustin Byfuglien? You want a huge contract? Atlanta has lots of BBQ joints."
Jay Busbee of the Yahoo! Sports blog The Turnstile, which looks at the business side of things, has a list of the worst owners and GMs in professional sports. Jeff Loria rightfully tops the list, because let's be honest – he makes every fan whose franchise is the victim of a terrible owner feel better. Gary Bettman is on there, because he exists and therefore should be.
If you keep going, you'll see a familiar sight – some of Virginia Flowers' signs from the Tailwake a few years ago. Directly underneath that, you'll then find the Atlanta Spirit Group. Says Busbee:
The Atlanta Spirit: A seven-man collective that gets along like wet cats in a sack, the Spirit own the Hawks and (until 2011) hockey’s Thrashers. Their near-constant squabbling and internal litigation kept free agents far from the Hawks and scared off potential buyers who could have kept the Thrashers in Atlanta. The Hawks remain, yet are still unable to get past the second round of the NBA playoffs. For the Atlanta Spirit, mediocrity is a way of life.
Mediocrity! Feel the rush. But hey, at least the Hawks have fufilled their owners' goal of making it to the second round of the playoffs. Good for you.
S/t Wayne from Alabama