Man I can remember when I thought the Hawks were improving by just losing respectably. I remember when just being in the conversation towards the end of the regular season for a shot at the 8th seed and getting to the playoffs was as much excitement as I could expect. Man expectations were loooowwww!
But now, the players and team that has brought winning back to a city that badly needed it are being told by the fans (that finally have SOMETHING to root for again) to kick rocks. Its ungrateful in my opinion. Sure I would love to have already won an NBA championship or had a chance to see Chris Paul in a Hawks uniform. But just to know that even throughout the many flaws that many can't help but point out, the Hawks have a legitimate chance. I can root when I know the Hawks should win and I can root when I am hoping for an upset. Many times I may come away disappointed, but this team has provided many moments that I have imprinted in my catalog of memories and I can't wait for more.
Do you know how ecstatic Clippers, Timberwolves, or BUCKS fans would be to make the 2nd round 3 yrs in a row. The Bucks fans were excited just to have pushed our Hawks to 7 games. And now look at where that team is. The Chicago Bulls sold out its arena every night through some really bad years between Jordan and Rose. I don't ask anyone to lower expectations. A championship should be everyone's goal. But just building a tradition of winning would go a loooong way to getting that championship.
No team has won a championship without knowing how to win and that expects to win. Every team since the Lakers in the 80's have been a product of winning traditions engrained in the players, team, and organization. The 80's Celtics and Lakers, the Bad Boy Pistions, Jordan and the Bulls, Hakeem and the Rockets, David Robinson and Tim Duncan's Spurs, Kobe and Shaq's Lakers, Detroit, Miami, the Big 3, and the Defending Champion Mavs. All of those championship teams won because there was a culture of winning behind those teams and organizations.
The Dallas Mavericks were exactly where the Hawks are now. They just couldn't get over that hump. Year after year, it was playoff disappointment after disappointment. It took Mark Cuban and Dirk Nowitzki 10 years to pull it all together. Think about where the Mavs would be if Cuban had pulled the string on trading Nowitzki.
Josh Smith is the Hawks most exciting and productive player, but he is the first to be pointed out for his downfalls. For years Nowitzki was labeled soft and so was the entire Mavericks team. Dirk didn't get tough enough to win a championship until Tyson Chandler came to back him up. He needed the perfect compliment.
And so going into this season, I am optimistic as always. I have predicted that the Hawks will get to the Eastern Conference championship. And it is because I think that the core of the Hawks have found its perfect compliment in Jeff Teague.
This team was meant to play fast, uptempo, and in the open court. And it starts on defense. Mike Bibby was able to calm this team and teach it how to play and win under control. But he was not the compliment that could take the team to a new level. I truly believe that this team will be much more aggressive on defense and offense (by taking it to the rim). Especially when Josh Smith is running with a point guard that can push the ball and break down lanes.
I am toasting to everyone who is optimistic and wants this team to bring home a championship. This is to a really good season, knowing that we will have a chance to win every night and enduring the losing streaks (if there are any!). I would go into a rendition of "This LIttle Light of Mine", but that would be over doing it. Toast!!!