I’m from Atlanta…
I’m from Atlanta before it was known as the “A” or the “A-Town”, before the city became “transient”, before the Braves and Falcons were contenders, before Dominique and Deion got caught up with Fred Tokars, and before the Atlanta Spirit bought “Your Atlanta Hawks”.
I say that to say this…
I have been questioned over the past 9-10 months on whether or not I’m a fan of the Atlanta Hawks and my answer is easy; I’m not a fan of these Atlanta Hawks. Before you pass judgement, first let me explain… My dad and uncle used to take me to the smoke-filled OMNI and yes I said smoke-filled because back in the day you could just fire up in the arena with no problem. For the better part of the 80’s we watched the Hawks roll off 40-50+ wins almost every season. Led by Coach Mike Fratello and All-Star Dominique Wilkins, the Hawks were a staple in the NBA playoffs but could never defeat the Pistons or Celtics in the Eastern Conference Semifinals but, I will give them credit because at least they tried and by the way it doesn’t hurt that the Celtics and Pistons either went on to win the NBA Finals or at minimum the Eastern Conference Championship.
Now let’s step into the 90’s…
The Atlanta Hawks desperate to for a championship made a change in leadership the franchise hired Lenny Wilkens in 1993 to guide the Hawks to NBA Championship. The 1993-94 could have a memorable season for the Hawks, with the abrupt retirement of Michael Jordan the road to the Eastern Conference Championship was wide open and it looked as if the Hawks were primed to make a run. Led by Dominique Wilkins, Mookie Blaylock, Stacey Augmon, and Kevin Willis the Hawks were in 1st place in the East at the All-Star break. A season that was supposed to be memorable was just that but for all the wrong reasons; two days after the All-Star Game it was announced that Dominique was being traded to the LA Clippers for Danny Manning. The 57 win season ended with a second round playoff exit at the hands of the Indiana Pacers. Over the next 5 years the Hawks were in the playoffs but never made it past the second round.
The 90’s go out with a bang… of sorts…
I can’t say for sure but I promise you that Lenny Wilkens tanked this franchise prior to parting ways with the organization. In his final year as Hawks’ coach Wilkens traded fan favorite Steve Smith to Portland for Jim Jackson and a weed head named JR Rider and for the first time in nearly 20 years the Hawks were out of the playoffs and that streak would continue for the next 8 seasons.
Welcome in the 2000s… Exit stage left…
The 2000’s started with little promise but gained momentum as the decade progressed. The biggest accomplishment so far is that Atlanta returned to the playoffs in 2007-2008 for the 1st time in 8 seasons and have remained a playoff team ever since. However the biggest complaints for “REAL” fans like myself was the team’s lack of educated draft picks.
Let’s start with 2001:
Atlanta drafted Pau Gasol 3rd overall in the 2001 draft only to trade his rights to Memphis for Shareef Adur-Rahim. – Failure
2002: Dan Dickau
2003: Boris Diaw
2004: With the 6th overall pick Atlanta drafted Josh Childress and 11 spots later they drafted Josh Smith. The same year Atlanta traded Shareef, Theo Ratliff, and Dan Dickau for the services of Rasheed Wallace for one game and one game only. The following day Atlanta traded Wallace to Detroit where he ended up being the missing piece to the Pistons’ puzzle and Detroit went on to win the NBA Championship.
2005: With the 2nd overall pick the Hawks selected Marvin Williams.
2006: With the 5th overall pick Atlanta drafted Sheldon Williams.
2007: With the 3rd overall pick Al Horford was selected and with pick #11 Atlanta grabbed Acie Law.
2008: The Hawks didn’t have a 1st round pick because of Joe Johnson trade.
2009: 19th overall pick Hawks selected PG Jeff Teague.
2010: With the 24 overall pick ATL grabbed Damion Jones.
In between all of these draft picks the Hawks also went through several coaches until they seemed set on one coach Mike Woodson. Woody came in from the Pistons organization and helped resurrect the Atlanta franchise from a dismal 13 win season in 2004-2005 to a 53 win season in 2009-2010. After basically doubling the team’s win total every year, the Hawks 53 win season would be his last. After the Hawks were swept 4 straight games at the hands of the Orlando Magic it was announced that the team was parting ways with Coach Woodson.
During the summer of 2010 Hawks ownership made the great decisions to hire former Woodson assistant Larry Drew as head coach and re-sign Joe Johnson to an NBA record $124 million dollar contract. A move that sent shockwaves throughout the league… How could a man that has a career average of 17.9 ppg receive the NBA’s richest contract?
I’ll tell you how… Poor management, plain and simple…
So now Atlanta is on the verge of eliminating the Magic and what has the biggest story been?
Joe Johnson? Nope!
Not even close…
The story has been Jamal Crawford scoring 20+ points for the Hawks off the bench in the past 4 games and all I can say is that the Hawks and their fans better ride this brother as long as possible because once this season is over he’s out of here and not because he wants to be. The real deal is that the Hawks cannot afford him after signing Joe to his big deal, giving Al Horford a $65 million dollar extension in addition to Josh Smith’s salary.
The Hawks salary is around $71 million right now and next season it’s scheduled to be around $65 million minus Jamal Crawford who made $10 million this season. In order for the Hawks to keep Crawford they’ll have to shell out around $ 16-17 million dollars to keep him a dollar figure they don’t have.
So as you guys go nuts for the Hawks just remember that once this year’s run is over so are the Hawks for several years to come…
Just in case you’re wondering about the draft picks or missed draft picks here are a list of the players the Hawks passed over: Luol Deng, Andre Iguodala, JR Smith, Jameer Nelson, Trevor Ariza, Kendrick Perkins, Leandro Barbosa, Josh Howard, Brandon Roy, Rudy Gay, Rajon Rondo, Deron Williams, Chris Paul, Danny Granger, David Lee, and Thaddeus Young.
Got any questions as to why I’ve jumped off the bandwagon?
Good…. Didn’t think so….