The Hawks’ season is over. 60 wins and an Eastern Conference Finals berth are talk of the past now.
And that’s okay. For the first time in Atlanta Hawks history, they made it past the second round of the playoffs. The team had four All-Stars, the Coach of the Year, 60 wins, and an extremely fun, riveting season.
I remember the December 26th game against Milwaukee at Philips Arena, where the Hawks’ had a 5-game winning streak ended with a 30-point drubbing by the upstart Bucks. Jared Dudley went 10-for-10 from the field and the Hawks looked terrible on both ends of the floor.
But that’s not what struck me most from that game. What got me the most was the over 19,000 in attendance for that game.
Even if you are new to the Hawks, you probably know that they have not done well with attendance recently. Before this season, few games sold out. The games that did sell out were usually against high profile teams like the Lakers or Knicks that had several thousand of their own fans to cheer against the home team.
The uniqueness of the Hawks selling out against a usually low-profile team like the Bucks was not lost on me at the time. But with the Hawks getting shellacked by 30 points in front of such a large crowd, I had my doubts. “The Hawks blew it in front of the best crowd of the season,” were my sentiments at the time.
But a weird thing happened after that night. The Hawks kept winning. And the fans, who have been waiting 20 years for enjoyable basketball, kept coming back. The Hawks would got on to sell out nearly every remaining home game for the rest of the season, and climb out of the bottom 10 in attendance for the first time in years.
So with the 118-88 loss in Cleveland, the Hawks will head home for the summer. The fans will have to wait until autumn to get another taste of “Atlanta Hawks basketball”.
But for once, there’s a brighter looking future for Atlanta. The Hawks have a solid foundation of players, a solid staff, potentially new owners, and a fan base that is actually investing their time in the team.
The future looks fun.