The game between the Hawks and Lakers begins a five-game road stretch (none of which are easy) for the Atlanta squad who have been slipping away from their aggressive style of play. This trend of roller coaster play from the Hawks is not something new.
The Hawks have historically been a team that you can’t trust to win, or even lose for that matter. There are nights when the Hawks will show up and look like one of the best teams in the league, and on other nights they look like a mediocre high school squad.
The excuse that I hear most often is that this play is caused in part by the ownership and management, and while that may have a part in it, there seems to be more factors at play. I understand that poor ownership can be a tough thing to deal with, but these are professional athletes who are being paid to put forth their best efforts. Effort is a concept that the Hawks have yet to understand, at least consistently.
Part of the problem is that there is a lack of intense fan and media scrutiny on this team, unlike the teams in Boston, Los Angeles, New York, or even Chicago. When these teams do poorly there is a lot of pressure on them to get back on track and figure out a way to win. This doesn’t happen with the Hawks. Why? The city of Atlanta in general has had a historically terrible fan base.
Last year, the Hawks ranked 22nd in attendance in the league. A team with a winning record and that has been to the playoffs for four-straight years and reached the second round three of those seasons, can’t even crack the top 15 in attendance.
So, why put forth any effort when you don’t have masses of angry sports writers and fans holding you accountable? This seems to have become the cornerstone of Hawks basketball, a great team without a heart.
They have all the potential in the world, but seem hesitant to use it. It’s like the smartest kids in school who never apply themselves and don’t reach their full potential. They do fine in the easy courses (teams like Charlotte, Washington, Toronto, etc.), but when it comes to the hard science courses (Miami, Chicago, Los Angeles), they give up at the first sign of difficulty.
This leaves us with a team that could be so great, and yet instead chooses to be the most inconsistent team in basketball. The proof is in the numbers. When you have a talented team that is only reaching the second round of the playoffs each time, it shows that something is awry.
The Hawks don’t need a superstar player to carry them through the playoffs. They have a very solid team with many interchangeable parts. The only thing this team needs is to take a page out of Michael Jordan’s book and, “play every game like it’s your last.”