When Paul Pierce’s last millisecond game tying 3 pointer was ruled no good, the Hawks finally made it out of the 2nd round! What an emotional roller coaster Friday night was. And what a payoff for long suffering Hawks fans or the newbies that jumped on the bandwagon but are no less emotionally involved.

When The Truth hit the game winner in Game 3 many doubters said “here we go again”… but this Hawks team has a different DNA from it’s predecessors.

READ MORE: Atlanta Public Schools hosts 2022 Special Olympics Track and Field Event

It hasn’t been easy or stylish but The Hawks found a way to beat Washington 3 games in a row and now it’s on to The Conference Finals versus LeBron & the Cavs starting Wednesday night at Philips Arena.

The last few months it’s been great to see folks engaged with this team. Whether it’s all the TVs in your neighborhood pub switched on to the Hawks game or seeing people sporting the old Pac-man logo on hats & t-shirts there’s a buzz about this team. Speaking of which, hats off to Hawks CEO Steve Koonin, who gets sports marketing and more importantly gets this town and how to cater to it’s fans.

For years you couldn’t pay me to watch Iso-Joe Johnson and Mr. Bitter Beer-face Josh Smith and the laconic cigar store Indian coaching style of Mike Woodson. You’d get spurts of excitement but ultimately never feel satisfied as a fan.

But this team has energized us. It’s an almost college type approach with the ball movement and team defense and a bunch of like-able workman-like players like DeMarre Carroll & Al Horford.

I’ve been here 16 years and this was the first season I had people asking me for Hawks tickets. I’ve gone to more Hawks games this year then the last 10 seasons combined. Combine the on court product with the concerts, stars and vibe and Philips is the place to be.

The Hawks continue to exceed our expectations and hopefully to some extent to change the way we feel about our home teams and the way we’re perceived as a sport town.

We have a reputation of being a bad sports town. Some of that is clichéd lazy opinions from National talking heads & columnists. I’ve always tried to explain to people from out of town that Atlanta fans get sick of being kicked in the balls by incompetent team owners & GMs or let down by un-clutch teams. Combine the local team’s post season implosions and diminished expectations with a large number of transplants and you get a lot of empty seats.

READ MORE: Fla. Gov. signs bill banning protests outside any residence

But this year we see how Atlanta reacts and responds to a likeable winning product. The Hawks have become an inoculation against Atlanta-itis.

Atlanta-itis… comes in varying degrees. Sometimes it’s just malaise combined with indifference.

Other times it can manifest itself into impending doom. Like when one of our teams gets in the post season. Take any one of the last 15 years when the Braves play in a best of 5 series for example.

Sometimes it creeps into our psyche before a season even starts. Like when Georgia is ranked as a preseason top 10…only the most delusional members of Dawg Nation can’t see how that will end up. Usually a loss to an inferior opponent a hallmark of Mark Richt’s teams the last few years.

Then there’s The Georgia Tech Phenomenon. Yellow Jacket fans who should be enjoying a division winning season and Orange Bowl victory still continue to obsess over how many column inches Georgia gets in the paper or is talked about on the radio.

The Falcons finally put together back to back winning seasons, (5 in a row actually under Smitty & Dinmitroff 08′-12′) but we still have just one playoff win in the last 10 seasons.

When it’s cooking at The Georgia Dome like during the 2002 & 2004 seasons with Mike Vick or the 2010 or 2012 season and that raucous playoff win over Seattle you can see Atlanta show it has a true passion for football.

I’ve always thought NFL Sundays downtown are like a mosaic of the city, black & white, young & old, inside the perimeter and outside the perimeter all coming together…when we’re winning.

MORE NEWS: Biden Administration makes eight more free COVID tests available for US households

That’s the vibe were seeing and feeling at Hawks games. Lets hope it continues and that “our” Hawks continue to exceed our expectations and help change the culture of sports disappointment in this town. Lets not succumb to Atlanti-tis. Lets buy in, get fired up and pull for this team!