What’s a championship worth to you?
Regardless of your answer, two Atlanta sports radio hosts probably have you beat. 680 The Fan’s Chuck Oliver and Matt Chernoff want to see the Atlanta Hawks win the NBA Finals so badly that they’re willing to give up anything to see it happen.
Even their freedom.
The afternoon drive hosts on one of the city’s sports radio stations made a bet before the start of the 2014-15 NBA regular season that if the Hawks – at slim 100/1 odds to win a championship – won the title this season, they’d go to jail. And no, they weren’t signing up for white-collar jail. They said they’d go to prison.
Leavenworth. Rikers Island. San Quentin. Anything to see the Hawks hold up the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
In any other year, the thought of the Hawks winning a championship would sound silly. They’re never even been to the Eastern Conference Finals, let alone the NBA Finals. It’s been 21 years since they won their own division.
But something about this bunch just seems different. The way they play as a team is special, and they’re finally starting to get some recognition as one of the best teams in the league.
They built a roster on a solid foundation and focused on fundamentals. They have a San Antonio Spurs-like look to them, and that’s exactly what they were going for. They brought in the Spurs’ general manager to mold the roster and a Spurs assistant coach to run the team on the floor.
The result has been poetic. The Hawks aren’t just 25-8, the best record in the Eastern Conference. They actually look capable of sustaining this success and turning it into something special.
They’ve lost two games since Thanksgiving. Two. And during that 18-2 stretch, they’ve beaten some really good teams. If the Hawks can win Monday night against the Los Angeles Clippers, they’ll finish a three-game West Coast road trip with victories over two of the top six seeds in the Western Conference, which is believed to be the stronger of the two conferences.
The Hawks have the reigning Coach of the Month (Mike Budenholzer) and Offensive Player of the Week (Jeff Teague). They just overtook the Golden State Warriors for the top spot in ESPN’s weekly power rankings.
They also have one hilarious Twitter account, which makes the wins even better and the losses not sting as much.
And if you’re doubtful that they’ll hold up their end of the deal if the Hawks win a championship, doubt Chuck and Chernoff no more. They haven’t forgotten about their little bet:
The Hawks are seriously trying to send us to prison. This club is really good. #threeHotsAndaCot
— Matt Chernoff (@RealMattlanta) January 4, 2015
Lock ’em up and throw away the key, Hawks.
Image: AP Photo/David Goldman