What a ride Atlanta!

Let me first say that the low-lights will be far and few between. This has been one big season of joy for this basketball team and its fans.

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The entire season has been filled with highlights of likes this town has never seen.

But, there has also been a few low-lights that, while this city has seen worse, hearken back to a time we’d all like to think we have moved on from.

Let’s take a look at this record-breaking amazing season broken down into 10, or maybe 11, important sections.

Important date #1: 9/9/14

Before the season even began, the Hawks found themselves in a very precocious situation when comments made by the President of Basketball Operations Danny Ferry were made public. Team COO and co-owner Steve Koonin came to Danny’s defense on the Rick & Jamie Show (WATCH IT BELOW), but Ferry was still placed on paid leave where he has remained.

 

Important date #2: 10/22/14

The Hawks wrapped up the pre-season against the defending NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs and beat them 117-107. Not a bad way to transition to the start of a new season and immediately made fans say to themselves, “Well, what do we have here?” SAN ANTONIO, TX - NOVEMBER 5: Dennis Schroder #17 of the Atlanta Hawks brings the ball up court against the San Antonio Spurs at the AT&T Center on November 5, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Chris Covatta/Getty Images)It was a balanced attack with Scott with 19 points, Teague with 21, Korver with 18, Millsap with 15 and Horford with 10. Schroder, Bazemore and Muscala kicked in another 15 points combined. This is when we began to see the emergence of what has affectionately become known as “Bud Ball”. This was also a good sign that Korver was going to have a great season as he went 6 for 10 from behind the line that day. While Korver would continue to be a major three-point threat during the regular season, his production would tail off during the playoffs.

Important date #3: 10/29/14

The next week was one of those low-lights we were referring to. The Hawks started the season going 1-3, albeit close losses, they were still starting out as many of the pundits had predicted.

 

Important date #4: 11/8/14

As the calendar moved a week into November, something clicked and the Hawks went on their first winning streak of this incredible season. Albeit only a 4 game winning streak, it set the tone for things to come. The Hawks downed the Knicks, the Jazz and the Heat.

 

Important date #5: 11/28/14

Thanksgiving is always a time to give thanks for what you have, and this is when Atlantans learned that they have a contender in their Atlanta Hawks. On November 28th, 2014 the Hawks began a 9 game winning streak, then suffered only one loss and began a 5 game winning streak. Going 14-1 over that period from Nov 28th until Dec 23rd seemed like a once in a season “highlight of the season” type of moment.

We were sure we had seen the best the Hawks had to offer.

We were wrong.

 

Important date #6: 12/27/14

On December 27th, 2014 the Hawks began something that no professional sports team in Atlanta history had ever done. That’s right, the Braves hadn’t done it… the Falcons hadn’t done it… the Thrashers, well let’s stop there.

The Hawks began a winning streak that has gone down in Atlanta sports history. From December 27th until Feb 2nd, your Atlanta Hawks went 19-0. In between those dates lies the month of January.

This Atlanta Hawks team became the first team in the history of the NBA to go undefeated in a calendar month. Something that affectionately became known as “January – 0”.

At this time, the bandwagon doors were wrenched opened as wide as they could be and Atlantans, and people from all over the South, began jumping on board.

Nationally, the Hawks could still not get any love from the pundits. It did not matter to this team, as they finally lost again on Feb 2nd, but bounced right back with a couple of wins over the next 4 days and went 10-2 over the next 12 games.

January-0

(Credit: Atlanta Hawks) This Atlanta Hawks team became the first team in the history of the NBA to go undefeated in a calendar month. Something that affectionately became known as “January – 0”.

 

During this time-frame came important date(s) #7:

The NBA took a break from Feb 11th until Feb 20th for the All-Star break. An All-Star weekend and game that included, for the first time ever, FOUR Atlanta Hawks. Al Horford, Paul Millsap, Jeff Teague were all named to the All-Star team with Kyle Korver being added the following week.

By this time the Hawks were in firm grasp of the top seed in the East and could begin to start thinking about the playoffs and resting the starters occasionally.

The rest of the season played out as many would have expected it to, if the Hawks rested most of their starters they would lose a few games and if they played the starters they would win. But getting the starters ready for the playoffs was very important to Coach Bud so he stayed with the playbook.

As the season was winding down and everyone’s attention had turned to anxiously awaiting the NBA Playoffs, we had yet another celebration going on at Philips Arena.

 

Important date #8: 3/5/15

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Dominique Wilkins will always be the quintessential Hawk. He will always be most everyone’s favorite Hawk of all time. His jersey will still sell. There was something missing, that most of the other greats all had however.

A statue.

A statue of the greatest Hawk of all time outside the Arena that he alone nicknamed “The Highlight Factory”.

And on March 5th, 2015, ‘Nique was honored with just that. A bronze statue, standing 13 1/2 feet high, on top of a granite base, was unveiled at a private luncheon with NBA notables like Karl Malone, Clyde Drexler, Bernard King and Charles Barkley all in attendance, as well as ‘Nique’s mother and family.

It was later moved to under one of the “A’s” outside Philips Arena. The ceremony included a standing ovation for our current Hawks’ and Coach Budenholzer as well.

Cleveland Cavaliers v Atlanta Hawks

ATLANTA, GA – MARCH 6: Dominique Wilkins stands in front of the statue dedicated to him before a game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Atlanta Hawks on March 6, 2015 at Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2015 NBAE (Credit: Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images)

Speaking of Coach Budenholzer, this brings us to important date #9: 4/21/15

The honors keep on pouring in for former and current Hawks as Coach Budenholzer was named the 2015 recipient of the NBA Coach of the Year award. In only his second year as coach of the Hawks, and second year as a head coach, after 22 years as an assistant coach to the great Gregg Popovich at the San Antonio Spurs, Coach “Bud” as he is known in Atlanta had turned things around quickly and had his players playing “Bud Ball”.

Players that Danny Ferry had pulled together, with Coach Bud’s help, and that Coach Bud has guided to the Eastern Conference Finals.

Coach Bud was not the first Atlanta Hawks Coach to win the award, Coach’s Wilkens, Fratello and Brown preceded him.

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(Credit: Rob Hamilton / 92-9 The Game)

Important date #10: 4/19/15

Your Atlanta Hawks entered the 2015 NBA Playoffs as the #1 Seed. The team got out of the first round of the playoffs, something that had been plaguing them lately, after defeating the Brooklyn Nets in the series 4-2.

Important date #11: 4/8/15

Thabo Sefolosha and Pero Antic were leaving a night club in Brooklyn and a fight broke out. Both Hawks were arrested and this part is still under investigation. During the arrest, according to video posted on the website TMZ.com, an NYPD Officer struck Thabo in the leg with a night stick. Sefolosha suffered a broken fibula and was lost for the season. That would turn out to hurt the Hawks on many levels, as Thabo was their go to guy on defense.

In the second round of the playoffs the Hawks beat the Washington Wizards 4-2 in that series and escaped the second round of the playoffs. The team was down 2-1 before winning 3 games in a row to finish off the Wizards. The Hawks made it to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in Hawks’ history.

And just in case you missed it, our own Steve Holman made one of the most in-your-face rebuttals in his historic play-by-play call of the Hawks – Wizards final game on May 15th, 2015. In Game 5, (the most watched Hawks game in team history) the Brooklyn Nets’ Paul Pierce hit a three pointer with 8.2 seconds on the clock.

That’s not out of the norm, as Pierce is known for game winning shots.

But as Pierce hit this particular three, he turned to Hawks bench sitting directly behind him and said “Series!”

To say this got under the skin of the Hawks players and of play by play announcer Holman would be an understatement.

The Hawks players said they used that fire created by Pierce and 7 seconds later Al Horford grabbed an offensive rebound and put it back for the game winning shot.

The very next game, the deciding Game 6, in Brooklyn, the Hawks had a three point lead with time expiring as Pierce launched a miracle three, off balance, from the corner, that first appeared good. So much so that news outlets around the country sent out push notifications that the game was going to OT.

However, after a second look by the refs, the ball was still touching Pierce’s finger tips when the clock expired.

No basket.

Leading Holman to explode on the air with the call of the year (listen to a brief recap of Holman calling the game here).

That happened on our final important date of the season: 5/15/15

As the Eastern Conference Finals got underway against the Cleveland Cavaliers and arguably the best player in the world, LeBron James, it fast became apparent that they current shooting drought of Kyle Korver, combined with the steady play of LeBron and the hot hand of JR Smith would be too much for the Hawks to handle.

Any advantage the Hawks gained by the Cavs’ Kyrie Irving being injured disappeared in the Game 2 when Kyle Korver was injured and out for the remainder of the playoffs.

The Hawks played a great game in Game 3, until Al Horford was ejected for an elbow to the Cavs’ Matthew Dellavedova. Al coudn’t believe it, Hawks’ fans couldn’t believe it.

But the team fought back and sent the game to OT, only to lose by 3 points 114-111.

(Credit: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

CLEVELAND, OH – MAY 24: Al Horford #15 of the Atlanta Hawks talks to referee Tony Brothers #25 before being ejected from the game in the second quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers during Game Three of the Eastern Conference Finals of the 2015 NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena on May 24, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Credit: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

The fourth and final game in the series didn’t go quite as well. The Cavs tasted blood in the water and with a rested Kyrie Irving back on the court it wasn’t long until the game was out of hand. The Hawks ended up losing Game 4 118-88 as the Cavs swept the Hawks 4-0 in the Eastern Conference Finals.

This season has been the most entertaining NBA season for Atlanta Hawks fans in the history of the team. Philips Arena has been packed to rafters, selling out 30 of the last 33 games this season. Another record for the team.

Records have fallen, trophies have been won and the bar has been raised. The Hawks will be back next year and the lines will be long at Philips Arena as the team kicks off the 2015-2016 NBA season and takes one more step towards winning an NBA Title.

Yes, that’s right. Your Hawks, with one or two pieces added, are now contenders for an NBA Title.

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Here’s to 2016!