August 19, 2005

Belkin sells stake in Hawks, paves way for Johnson deal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Steve Belkin agreed to sell his
ownership interest in the Atlanta Hawks on Friday, paving the
way for the club to acquire Phoenix Suns forward Joe Johnson.

Belkin sold his 30 percent stake in the Atlanta Spirit,
which owns the Hawks and the NHL's Atlanta Thrashers. He also
resigned "effective immediately" as the Hawks's NBA governor.

The sale will allow the Hawks to announce the Johnson trade
later on Friday, a swap Belkin had bitterly opposed with his
fellow owners.

Terms of the ownership transaction were not disclosed.

Belkin used his position as the team's NBA governor to
block the Johnson trade, a move that led the parties to take
the dispute to court.

"The differing opinions among Hawks owners over the Joe
Johnson trade made it clear that philosophical differences
exist over how best to build the Hawks into a winning
franchise," said NBA Commissioner David Stern.

"I appreciate that Steve has voluntarily resigned as NBA
governor in order to ensure the team can move forward with one

"I certainly hope he will consider returning to the NBA as
an owner of another franchise in the near future."

Michael Gearon Jr will replace Belkin as the team's