I owe it all to Arthur Triche.
After the 1999-2000 season, the first in Philips Arena, news about my favorite basketball team, the Atlanta Hawks, was putrid.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution had the best in the business, Jeffrey Denberg, covering the beat, but regularly edited his input down to the nub, providing little that we would see from Denberg is his ESPN.com offerings.
Nationally, even when the Hawks were winning, things were considerably worse. Hawks fans couldn't get any kind of meaningful information on a day to day, event to event basis, a standard that continued to ramp up elsewhere as the explosion of information through the internet took hold.
It was for that reason I accepted an offer from RealGM to cover the team -- I wanted to help fill that gap and give fans like myself the information we simply couldn't get.
At that time, the NBA was in "don't let the internet in" mode, having been burnt by fanboys and other "media" who used the new medium to get pictures and autographs from their favorite NBA players.
Still, when I approached Arthur Triche, the VP of Media Relations for the Hawks, about having whatever coverage he would afford me, he didn't flinch. Getting publicity for a team that few cared about from any source was a goal, and even my reputation as an obnoxious, rowdy fan didn't deter him.
After that season of consistent coverage from RealGM, Triche issued us a full media credential, which continued until I moved to Orlando in 2005. Even then, Triche continued to respect our intentions to cover the team as best as possible when we climbed aboard Peachtree Hoops, and we have been granted access to the team consistently whenever we needed it.
Along the way, Triche has been the model of professionalism towards myself and Kris, knows the game and other sports like nobody else and treats us all to that knowledge regularly.
I am thankful for his graciousness, his candor and his professional friendship. I wouldn't have been able to do and accomplish the things I have if not for AT. I am irrevocably in his debt.
That why it was such a shock to see the tweets today that informed those of us who had the honor and pleasure of being treated like first class media citizens by AT that he would no longer be in that position with the Hawks.
I don't pretend to understand those parts of the business that relates to the origins of such decisions as this one, but I don't think I am understating things when I say that it's a shame and that there is more than just this insignificant writer that will miss all the things that Arthur provided for us and that things won't be the same without him.
So, in his departure, I wish to say, on behalf of Peachtree Hoops and, on another level, myself, thank you Arthur.
Thank you for letting me in when you had no obligation to do so. Thank you for being a leader in your field and for always having time for our requests.
You will be missed. Thank you, thank you, thank you -- and the best wishes for what comes next.