The NBA season is well under way and much to my surprise along with everyone else’s, my hometown team, the Atlanta Hawks have one of the best records in the NBA. Despite all the love the Hawks are getting, there is still much skepticism among fans. And who could blame them. When the past few years have been filled with early 1st and 2nd round exits from the playoffs, a roster with some of the more average stars in the league (aka Joe Johnson and Josh Smith), and the fiasco in the front office caused by racially insensitive comments and e-mails by former associates, Bruce Levenson (owner) and Danny Ferry (general manager), it’s hard to have faith in this team.
Yet, the lack of faith may be explained in part by other extenuating circumstances. Despite the Hawks great record and team oriented style of basketball, they lack a star. The team also doesn’t have an illustrious past like some other storied franchises (Lakers, Bulls, Celtics, etc.) Even so, smaller markets like Oklahoma City and Utah have no problems getting fans in the seats, unlike the Hawks who rank in the bottom half of the NBA in attendance. Some simply blame the city of Atlanta for being a fair weather sports town. Others claim that city is full of transplants whose allegiances lie elsewhere. This interactive map created using Twitter Analytics gives a picture into NBA fandom, there is a slightly larger following for the Los Angeles Lakers at 15.52% than for the Hawks at 15.42% in Fulton County, home of the Hawks.
Despite all these issues, the Hawks seem to have found new life in the post-Danny Ferry, Bruce Levenson era. The team’s social media account, though not one of the most followed in the NBA, has been rated one of the best by many, and is an instrumental part of re-branding the team. It seems that with the re-selling of the organization, the team’s prospects look better than ever. In an in-depth ESPN profile, readers get a sense of the Hawks franchise’s history within the context of Atlanta’s racial history and how that has affected it’s relation with fans and the city at large. It seems as if the Hawks have weathered the storm and are flying higher than ever.
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Finals Here We Come!