When the Atlanta Hawks held their “Swipe Right Night” in 2015, they certainly didn’t expect it to lead to a marriage. That is, however, exactly what has happened.
Ben McCleskey and Avery Armstrong, who had their first date at the Tinder-themed promotional night in 2015, are getting married, and the Hawks have agreed to foot the bill.
“Not in my wildest dreams did I think this would happen,” Hawks chief executive officer Steve Koonin said, via ESPN’s Darren Rovell.
Upon learning that the pair had started their romance at the promotional night, Koonin agreed to pay for the wedding — if it happened — on the second annual Swipe Right Night in 2016. McCleskey proposed in November and the Hawks kept up their end of the bargain, hosting the wedding on the court and the celebration at the Philips Arena’s courtside club. The bride will even get a wedding dress provided free of charge from a bridal shop that doubles as a team sponsor.
“I always joked with my buddies that I would get married at the 50-yard line of the Georgia Dome,” McCleskey said. “Now that that’s not in use any more, this is pretty much the equivalent.”
Tinder dates do not always go smoothly, so the fact that they’ve gotten this far is nothing short of remarkable. Congratulations to the happy couple.
The Atlanta Hawks are reportedly ready and willing to do business ahead of Thursday’s NBA trade deadline.
According to Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports, the Hawks should be active at the deadline. Rival executives said that the team has made everyone on the roster available for the right price, though some are obviously more appealing than others.
The likes of Ersan Ilyasova, Marco Belinelli, and Taurean Prince are available, with the Hawks focused on acquiring expiring contracts and draft picks. Point guard Dennis Schroder could be had for the right price, but a big contract and maturity issues have limited his value.
There’s one Hawks player who seems particularly likely to be moved, but the entire team is on the block. The teardown in Atlanta is well and truly underway.
The Atlanta Hawks are being sued by a former member of their security staff who claims he noticed a pattern of racial discrimination against African-American celebrities.
TMZ reports that Sam Haynes, a former Hawks security manager who also ran event security at Phillips Area, is suing the team for wrongful termination. Haynes says he was relieved of his duties after he pointed out to his white boss that black celebrities who attended events and performed at Phillips Arena were not given the same VIP treatment as their white counterparts.
More from TMZ:
Sam Hayes says it was obvious from the start of his employment in August 2016 that his white boss was going out of his way to make black stars go through more rigorous security checks than white stars.
On August 26, Drake and Future performed at Philips Arena and had asked to bypass metal detectors on their way inside but their requests were denied.
One week later, AC/DC performed and made the same metal detector bypass request — but theirs was granted.
Hayes says he continued to notice the pattern, claiming celebrities like Adele, Amy Schumer, Bon Jovi and the Ringling Brothers were allowed to bypass security while Kanye West, Tyler Perry, Kat Williams, Migos and others were given the red light. Hayes said the most egregious incident took place when a black security staffer told a white member of the band Radiohead’s crew that he needed to walk through a metal detector, and the man responded by dropping his pants. A white security staffer allegedly intervened and let the man through.
When he informed management of what he had seen, Hayes says he was told, “Hip hop acts draw a different crowd and the white acts bring in more money.” He says he was fired shortly thereafter and told it was because he reprimanded lower level staffers without consulting management first.
The Hawks vehemently denied the allegations, telling TMZ Hayes was “terminated for poor performance and his claims are baseless.”
The Atlanta Hawks have concluded their search for a new general manager.
ESPN’s Marc Stein reports that Travis Schlenk has verbally agreed to take over as the team’s general manager and that an announcement will be made on Thursday.
Schlenk is currently in his fifth season as assistant general manager of the Golden State Warriors, who earned a spot in the NBA Finals earlier this week. They await the winner of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics.
Prior to taking over as Golden State’s assistant general manager, Schlenk spent time as the team’s director of player personnel.
Over the course of 16-plus years in the NBA, Schlenk has held various roles with the Warriors, Orlando Magic and Miami Heat. In addition to assistant general manager and director of player personnel, he’s also worked in the video room, on the bench, scouting and in various front office roles.
Atlanta’s general manager position became available after Wes Wilcox was assigned to the role of special adviser to ownership. In addition to Schlenk, the Hawks also considered retired NBA star Chauncey Billups and Washington Wizards vice present of basketball operations Tommy Sheppard.
Earlier this year, Schlenk was also rumored to be a candidate for the vacant Magic general manager position.
The Atlanta Hawks are swinging for the fences with their general manager search and don’t mind being turned down in the process.
According to The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Hawks requested to speak with Portland Trail Blazers GM Neil Olshey about their vacancy but were denied permission.
Sources: Atlanta requested the opportunity to talk with Portland GM Neil Olshey about its vacant GM job, but was denied permission.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) May 19, 2017
Teams typically allow their employees to interview for jobs if the job in question serves as a promotion. In the case of a lateral move, such as this, it’s no surprise a team like Portland wouldn’t want to let Olshey go elsewhere.
In addition to pursuing Olshey, the Hawks reportedly have been linked to Brooklyn’s Trajan Langdon, Chauncey Billups, Joe Dumars, Brent Barry and even Cleveland’s David Griffin.
The Atlanta Hawks reportedly wanted Paul George very badly back in February.
According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, the Hawks offered the Indiana Pacers four first-round picks in a bad to acquire George in February. The Hawks were one of several teams to make an offer, though all were rejected by Indiana’s then-president Larry Bird.
Reports at the time indicated the Boston Celtics were also talking to the Pacers about a George deal.
George is entering the final season of his contract with the Indiana Pacers, and there is another team that the star supposedly has his sights set on. Indiana has some difficult decisions to make with regard to his — and their — future.
The Atlanta Hawks have restructured their front office as promised, though Wes Wilcox will remain with the team.
According to The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer is relinquishing his duties as the team’s president, though he will remain as head coach. Budenholzer will still have a say on personnel matters.
Sources: Budenholzer's been willing to drop president's title, without losing strong voice in player personnel — which is what's happening. https://t.co/Hlt61N8me3
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) May 4, 2017
Wilcox, who just completed his second season as the team’s GM, will no longer operate as GM but will remain in the team’s front office.
Sources: Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer will relinquish president's duties, GM Wes Wilcox will remain in a high-ranking front office role.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) May 4, 2017
The Hawks were one of the biggest surprises in the NBA three seasons ago when they went 60-22, but they’ve been trending downwards since then. This season they went 43-39 and grabbed the fifth spot in the Eastern Conference, but lost in the first round of the playoffs. The next head of basketball operations for the team will have multiple draft picks to try and rebuild with.