Atlanta Hawks owner Tony Ressler admitted he wasn't prepared to take over after buying the franchise in 2015, but does believe he's learned from his mistakes after the team went from perennial playoff contender to NBA doormat.
"Let's cut the bulls---, I didn't know what I was doing," Ressler said, according to The Athletic's Jeff Schultz. "I can blame someone else, I can blame you, I can blame my wife. But there was only one schmuck in the room, and that was me."
He added: "For two years, I was a deer in the headlights. It’s like the story of a poker game when you're looking around, and you wonder who the fish is. If you don't know the answer, it's probably you. I don't want to blame somebody else because I was the schmuck, and I didn’t have to do it. I realized the mistake the minute after I did it."
Ressler purchased the Hawks after they won a franchise-record 60 games. They've continually regressed in the years since, winning 48, 43, and 24 contests. Some of the blame can be pinned on former head coach Mike Budenholzer, who Ressler admits he incorrectly promoted to team president.
After the Hawks relieved Budenholzer of his presidential duties, the 49-year-old decided to walk away from his contract as head coach, and he went on to sign with Giannis Antetokounmpo's Milwaukee Bucks this summer. Atlanta replaced the 2015 Coach of the Year with Philadelphia 76ers assistant Lloyd Pierce to guide the young roster.
"Bud was not the right coach for us," Ressler said. "He was desperate to coach a superstar. I don't know where Bud's head was; you'll have to ask him. But I do think when some people have a very short life as the decision-maker, and they no longer have it, sometimes they miss it. I know this: Getting a Lloyd Pierce, a coach with his attributes who works hard and wants to help young guys get better, is exactly what I wanted and exactly what Travis wanted."