The Atlanta Hawks have had a rough month. Controversy has gripped the franchise after allegations of racist comments from higher-ups were proven true with audio evidence. As a result, the front office has been blown up and suspended left and right.
Add this disaster to the fact that the franchise has never had much success. They’ve never been to the Eastern Conference Finals, let alone the NBA Finals, and even the Philips Arena banner collection is a little embarrassing. There are four banners commemorating each of the team’s division titles, and three retired numbers.
So it was nice to see the franchise make a much-needed announcement on Monday – they’ll be building a statue of Dominique Wilkins that will sit outside the arena to honor the legend.
Wilkins, one of three former players whose number is retired by the Hawks, is the franchise’s all-time leading scorer. The “Human Highlight Film” played 882 games for the Hawks – the most of any player in franchise history – and he averaged 26.4 points per game in those contests. If you ask me, that’s pretty darn special.
Wilkins was inducted into the Pro Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006. The fact that it took the Hawks eight years to build a statue for a Hall of Famer is a little strange.
“Being honored by the great City of Atlanta and my beloved Hawks team is incredibly humbling,” Wilkins said in a release. “I have to thank all the fans, the community and the Hawks organization, in particular the Gearon family, Rutherford Seydel and Tommy Dortch, who have been close friends and important figures since the day I was drafted. I look forward to continuing my partnership with the team and the City for many years ahead.”
This is the right move at a time when the franchise needs to get back into the city’s good graces. There is some history surrounding this team, and it’s about time they honored it. Building statues isn’t the be-all-end-all, but it does give fans the feeling that they’re watching a franchise with a storied past, and even if Atlanta doesn’t have the same basketball history as New York or Los Angeles, they had one special player in Wilkins.
And that deserves to be remembered.
The statue will be unveiled on March 5, 2015, according to the Hawks.