Three years ago this was not in the top 300 reasons. You had to go to Phillips prepared to defend your personal honor against whole sections of Kobe fans. There was no time to go on the offensive. Against the Pistons, Lakers, and Knicks, it was survival mode.
The beauty of a few playoff appearances, a couple more wins, and a few more Hawks fans and all of a sudden you rarely go a Friday or Saturday game without a distinct home court advantage. Shoot, even some Tuesdays can get pretty loud in the Highlight Factory.
And it all leads to the extremely pleasurable experience of heckling other fans. Now, I am not talking fighting words or personal attacks. That is pointless and just leads to buying too much beer and getting pointlessly angry. No, I am talking good natured but quite firm mocking. There is just no good reason you should be able to walk into any arena other than Los Angeles with a Kobe jersey.
There is nothing worse than a team getting decently loud cheers on the road. It pains me. Therefore, we should make those people feel like they cannot stand up. They cannot yell. They can only sit quietly and watch the game. Nothing more. Nothing less.
During the second round of the playoffs, my friend and I were sitting in the same seats we always did. It was almost entirely Hawks fans with two seats usually rotating opposing team's fans. Well, before game four began, down walked two twenty something guys with LeBron James' jerseys sans undershirt. And that just could not stand.
The ribbing began immediately, "Hey, what is your favorite restaurant in Cleveland?"
"I said where are you from in Ohio?"
They were from Birghingham. They did not know who Big Z was. They at first laughed along. Then cheered really loud. Slowly grew annoyed. Then got incredibly mad at us. Then asked why we were bothering them so much.
"You are wearing LeBron James jerseys in Atlanta during the playoffs. Did you think you were not going to get some choice words?"
"We kind of did." They left before Cleveland swept the Hawks out of the playoffs. They knew Phillips was not the place to celebrate.
Atlanta does not have Utah's fans or say Orlando's win percentage. But you cannot waltz into Phillips any longer. Whether you are a player or a fan.