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Why I’m a fan of the Atlanta Hawks

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Rock bottom created a die-hard fan.

Atlanta Hawks v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

Welcome to the refreshed Peachtree Hoops! To celebrate the new look and feel of our sports communities, we’re sharing stories of how and why we became fans of our favorite teams. If you’d like to do the same, head over to the FanPosts to begin. We’re collecting all of the stories here. Come Fan With Us!

The 2004-2005 Atlanta Hawks were atrocious.

For the youngsters among us, this was Mike Woodson’s first season at the helm and the rookie campaign for both Josh Childress and Josh Smith. The two youngsters, one of which (Smith) emerged straight from high school, finished within the top five players on the team in minutes played. That says quite a bit in its own right, but when considering that they were joined by Antoine Walker, Al Harrington and Tyronn Lue, it is easy to see why the team flailed on the way to just 13 victories.

I still loved it.

In this space, I rarely open up from a thoroughly personal standpoint, unless of course you include personal basketball opinions and... I do not. With that said, this was an important team for me and, frankly, I wouldn’t be here without that 82-game sample.

As a young man raised in Atlanta, I grew up a fan of the Hawks and, by this point, I was 18 years old. In fact, the 2004-2005 season coincided with my freshman year of college and I was thoroughly “broken in” with regard to the disappointment and frustration that goes along with Atlanta sports.

However, more free time meant that the 2004-2005 Hawks were my team.

I grew up a massive sports fan and, as evidenced by the lengthy list of websites I currently write for as a part-time “job” at this point, that hasn’t ceased. Still, my early obsessions were the Michigan Wolverines and the Atlanta Braves, more so than any other. I was clad in maize and blue from birth as a result of my father’s allegiance and, from the time Sid Bream slid in 1992, the Braves were a part of my everyday life.

From a Hawks standpoint, they were my favorite NBA team by a considerable margin, but I flirted with the San Antonio Spurs (Tim Duncan is my favorite player ever) and Detroit Pistons (my dad, again) to the point where I couldn’t claim any crazy allegiance in my very early fandom. In fact, the NBA wasn’t my favorite league yet and, growing up in Gwinnett County, it wasn’t as if that was a strange trend in a world dominated by college football arguments.

Then, I went off to college and, even with a near full-time job, I still had more free time than ever. Part of that can be traced to full-fledged insomnia but, regardless of how it happened, the Hawks were a planned part of my calendar for the first time.

Watching the Walker/Harrington combination with frustration, trying to ease my excitement for Childress (the guy I wanted in the draft that year) and reflecting on extremely one-sided AAU battles with Smith as a poor role player in the same high school class. Beyond that, the Hawks just did not have a functional point guard and, with all due respect to Lue, Royal Ivey and even Kenny Anderson, it isn’t fun to watch a team without a point guard.

That did not stop me from investing fully and I realize how insane that sounds. The Hawks were, without question, the worst team in the NBA that season and it makes absolutely no sense that the 2004-2005 campaign would be the impetus for a fandom that results in helping to operate this Atlanta Hawks-focused website.

Yet, here we are.

I would be lying if I said that my fandom is as pure these days as it ever was. Part of that, undoubtedly, is that I at least attempt to be a journalist, covering the team as a credentialed member of the media and writing about all kinds of sports and topics. Throw in a near-daily podcast and the fact that it is (very) difficult to put together coherent thoughts when clouded by irrational (and fanatical) behavior and I’ve earned a few “you’re not a true fan!” barbs in recent years.

That is, of course, absurd. I grew up with the Atlanta Hawks and, from the age of 18 on, the organization has been the No. 1 focus of my sports attention. Should the Hawks sign Paul Millsap to a lengthy contract? Should they move away from Dwight Howard? How excited should we all be about Taurean Prince? Those are all extremely interesting questions and ones that we have spent (and will spend) plenty of time on in this space in the coming days.

At the end of the day, though, this website and many others like it were born from die-hard fandom. Taking a step back in order to provide more rational, strategic thinking is something that is always going to happen here, especially if I’m the one at the keyboard. For me, that adds enjoyment to the process and, for better or worse, the way the team operates from a personnel standpoint will always matter. I still love basketball, though, and simply taking it all in for 48 minutes on any given night is something I’ll never stop enjoying.

I’m an Atlanta Hawks fan and, if you’re reading this, it is a safe bet that you are too. In some ways, I’m sorry. In some ways, we share tremendous experiences that I wouldn’t trade for the world. There isn’t one “moment” that makes me the Hawks fan that I am today but there are many things that contributed and the 2004-2005 team remains exceedingly high on the list.

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