For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
Or at least, that seems to be the case every time the Hawks do something positive.
After the Hawks’ loss in seven games to the Indiana Pacers in the first round of the playoffs, I wrote about how the shift in the manners of the front office had put the Hawks on the right path in building a bright future.
“Despite a new head coach and a myriad of injuries that nearly sank the team, what the Hawks showed this season is that they really have an identity and a positive one at that. GM Danny Ferry started forging this identity last season, but with what is now mostly “his personnel”, the fans started to notice more of a team forming instead of just the “collection of individuals” that past squads resembled.
And naturally, when the team is better and there seems to be a future to be optimistic about, the fans will start showing up in greater numbers. The Hawks have usually done well in filling up for playoff games, but something about the crowds during the Indiana series seemed different. The fans were louder and more prideful, creating an atmosphere that fired up the Atlanta players for the series.
This is a good start. Now the owners, Ferry, and Budenholzer need to keep working to make sure this great foundation that has been set does not turn into a condemned lot.
We all have to wait and see, but I believe this team has new heights to soar to in the future. And fortunately for them, I’m not alone in putting my trust in this team for what seems like the first time in decades.”
That momentum is now gone. All of it.
In the wake of the news of Bruce Levenson’s racially-based email and the team’s scouting report of Luol Deng, the front office has now decimated the progress they made towards getting better crowds, regardless of racial make up. The “PAC is Back!” campaign, the hard-fought effort in the playoffs without Al Horford, the trust of the GM and that the team had a potentially game-changing head coach; everything seemed to be on the upswing for the Atlanta Hawks.
All of that may be for naught. CEO Steve Koonin met with the team’s players on Sunday night and the atmosphere was described as “a funeral”. General Manager Danny Ferry is in hot water for his role in this scandal and may be forced out as a result of it.
The owners hired Ferry, who then in turn hired head coach Mike Budenholzer. Levenson is leaving and the other owners may follow as a result of the potential value of the franchise. That “similar vision throughout the front office” that has been so appealing to fans since Budenholzer’s hire? Gone. Ferry, the GM who cleared Joe Johnson’s and Marvin Williams’ contracts from the team’s cap and has made underrated grabs in the offseasons? Potentially gone. All that would be left is Budenholzer, who would then be coaching a team for an ownership group and GM that did not hire him.
For a team that has problems attracting fans and free agents, this controversy only serves to amplify those concerns for the upcoming seasons.
As Jason Walker wrote for Peachtree Hoops, Bruce Levenson’s email and impending sale of the team are not just a gut punch; it is another gut punch on top of many that have made it difficult to be a Hawks fan over the last few decades.
If there is a silver lining here, it will be that the Atlanta Spirit ownership group that has plagued the city for a decade may be on its way out; something that a lot of Atlanta fans will surely take solace in.
But it came at a price. A heavy one.