The 2016-17 NBA schedule was released late Thursday afternoon. Many fans get excited about Christmas Day games, games where players return to former homes, and when superstars come to their town.
For the Atlanta Hawks, only the latter of the three really concerns them nowadays. But there was one game that was left off of the Hawks’ home schedule for the 2016-17 season that shouldn’t have been, and it was the game on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
The NBA gets a lot right, especially under Adam Silver’s watch. The way he handled the Clippers and Donald Sterling back in 2014 was strong, and more recently, moving the 2017 All-Star Game out of Charlotte. While this won’t make much noise outside of the Atlanta area, the Hawks should absolutely be playing in Philips Arena on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
If I may refresh your memory, Dr. King was born and raised in Atlanta. He attended Booker T. Washington High School, and is one of the greatest speakers in the history of the world. His contributions to the Civil Rights Movement were colossal. His house was bombed because of the Montgomery bus boycott in the mid-1950s. He helped found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1957. He gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial during the 1963 March on Washington. He led the Selma to Montgomery March where he gave the “How Long, Not Long” speech, and he organized the Chicago open housing movement.
Simply put, Dr. King did very much in his 39 years on earth, not only for African-Americans, but for the United States of America.
It just doesn’t seem right that the team representing the city and state that Dr. King was native to isn’t playing at home on that third Monday of January. It might not seem as a big of a deal nationally, but MLK Day certainly means something to the city of Atlanta.
The NBA has been pretty consistent with giving the Hawks home games on MLK Day since 1994. It’s been since 1999 since the Hawks didn’t host an MLK Day game, and that’s because the season didn’t start until February. The team also didn’t host in 1998, when they split time between the Georgia Dome and Alexander Memorial Coliseum.
MLK Day was observed for the first time in 1986.
So yes, we’re all very excited that we now know the slate of games we have to look forward to for the 2016-17 NBA season. But it’s disappointing that the Hawks won’t be taking the Philips Arena floor on January 16.