I come on here to say one last thank you to Joe Johnson for what he has done for this team.
As a 23 year old die hard fan who didn’t move to Georgia until around 2000 and officially became a fan in 2003, I consider myself a new generation Hawks fan. I have never seen a game where the the great Dominique Wilkins has actually played in and I have never been to a game at the old arena. I have never experienced the pain of witnessing Nique getting traded like many fans on here and I have never witnessed terrible management prior to Billy Knight. So you should understand that Josh Smith, Joe Johnson, Zaza Pachulia, and those terrible golden jerseys are my first memories of the eventual physco fandom relationship that I have with our Atlanta Hawks.
While in high school still fresh to the state of Georgia after moving from Boston (dear god help me) I realized that this team was always talked about as being terrible and being the laughing stock of the nba. People around me would often times claim other teams like the Lakers or 76ers or heck even Kennesaw State’s new basketball team, anything besides the awful hawks at the time. As for me at the time, I didn’t know who to follow, but I did watch Atlanta on occasions and think that someone needs to support them since this is the city that I live in. My first game that I went to changed my perspective on basketball and changed me into a fan. Atlanta just got some guy in a trade named Joe Johnson and supposedly he was pretty good. I went to one game that season (cant remember who they played) and saw how he helped will that team to a victory while he scored the most points in the game. Since that game my feeling on the team for the rest of the season was that we have somebody on this team that is good, its just that no one knows about him.
The following year he got selected as an all-star and from then on I would tell people when they would question my fandom that "yeah you may be a lakers fan and they got Kobe, but we got a stud who has no one else on the team and still gets to the all-star game" . I went to couple games that year, but the one I still remember was when the Allen Iverson led 76ers came into Atlanta and had a huge support of fans at the game, more so than hawks fans. In the end, Atlanta won and it was great to see all the bandwagon fans leaving the stadium with their heads down and depressed. About a year later I went off to school in Va, and I had to be the only fan there. During most of my time there, I was surrounded by tons of Lakers and Wizards/ Gilbert Arenas fans. I was constantly asked and teased about who my favorite player was because at the time I would say Joe Johnson and receive so much crap for it. I mean why not? He is the best player on my favorite team and the only all-star player on the team that has had what seemed like 6 straight losing seasons. In 2008 when they made the playoffs I was excited because it meant I could see 4 more games of Atlanta basketball before they were done for the season. Like pretty much everyone, I believed we were going to get swept and it would be 4 and out. But to my surprise I got to see 7 games after the season and In a couple of them, I got to see my favorite player at the time take over and show just utter dominance on the Big 3 and the "Best team in the NBA". It felt so great to rub it in everyone’s faces that he was not a joke and the Hawks should be taken seriously. Till this day I will never forget the infamous crossover on Powe and it will forever be saved in my memory.
I continued to support Joe even through the years that we got swept in the second because I never forget that he was the reason that I became a hawks fan at first. Yes I got frustrated with him hogging the ball and lack of leadership at points, but I as long as he was wearing "ATL" on his chest I would forever support him. In 2010 I believe when he signed this max contract I was never mad at Joe for taking it. Now I didn’t think he deserved it but I was never mad at him. Ownership and Sund on the other hand……………. But that’s something else. To me if I were Joe I would have taken that, I mean that’s what you pay your agent to do for you getting the most money out of someone. Shoot I wouldv’ve done the same thing if I were him. But anyway, I was never mad at him.
Anyway to close, through the last couple years I have realized that Joe has started to decline and will never live up to the "Lebron James like contract" that he received. Even I the most homeristic fan realized that with that contract, we cant get someone who really deserved the contract unless if we got rid of him or multiple players on this team. So as happy as I am to see him leave because this helps the team in winning the ultimate goal of getting a championship in Atlanta, I wont forget the impact he had on me as a fan. Without him I probably never would have become a hawks fan and I cant imagine myself if I wasn’t. So thank you Joe Johnson for what you have done for me and this city while you were here. I hope one day the #2 will be retired because of what you have done for the team especially coming here and staying when no one else would after a 13 win season. Best of luck on your new team (unless you play us) and hopefully the new start in Brooklyn will help.