Tuesday night was a rough evening for the city of Atlanta.
All at once, the Braves were losing to the hated Phillies, the Hawks were losing to the hated Celtics and Tyler Perry’s Atlanta studio was on fire.
But one of those events taught me more than the other two. As I watched the Hawks’ Game 2 dumpster fire smolder in the closing seconds of a truly excruciating 87-80 loss, a revelation came to me.
I totally understand why the majority of this city isn’t interested in Hawks Basketball.
Sure, it has something to do with the difficulty involved in getting to Philips Arena during rush hour. And we can blame all of this on the front office that clearly doesn’t mean what they say — they’re not really going to do whatever it takes to win a title.
But at some point, we’re going to need to blame the team on the court for some of this mess.
Let’s get one thing straight. This situation isn’t the product of a bad sports town, even though it’s easy to label that as the problem. If your city had the Hawks, you’d treat them the exact same way. Chicago has the Bulls, Orlando has the Magic and New York has the Knicks. They’re treated the same way: put an exciting product on the court or the team won’t have the undying support of their city.
There are few teams like the Hawks in the last five years — perennial top-5 seeds in their own conference, but don’t sniff the conference finals, let alone the NBA Finals. Teams that have been this consistent in the regular season have made at least one deep run in the postseason almost everywhere.
It seems like every team better than the Hawks has a real chance to win it all.
Surely, this team has the pieces to make a decent run at winning their own conference. Yet they don’t come close. Granted, they’re far from being eliminated from the postseason this year, but last night wasn’t encouraging.
If they can’t beat a Celtics team that was missing Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo — a team that should have been put out of their misery, but instead were given a second life — I don’t see the Hawks getting to a spot where the distant fans would get inspired.
The last time the city truly caught Hawks Fever was in 2008, which was due to a thrilling seven-game playoff series against the same Celtics franchise that would go on to win the NBA Title that year. It was the last time Hawks fans believed their team truly had a chance to do something monumental.
They could have sent Boston packing.
In 2012, it wouldn’t be such a huge accomplishment if Atlanta beat Boston, yet we still got burned by our Hawks Tuesday night in Game 2. I’ll continue to support my team, as will all other Hawks diehard fans.
But I totally understand why the rest of the city is slowly turning their collective backs, again.
Hawks make it easy for their critics to pick them apart and impossible for their fans to defend them on days like this. #NBAPlayoffs
— Sekou Smith (@SekouSmithNBA) May 2, 2012