Immediately following the final buzzer for an Atlanta Hawks game pops a purple bubble at the top of timeline’s of most Hawks fans’ Twitter applications.
After you click the purple bubble and “start listening,” you begin to hear passionate basketball fans yelling — whether it stems from excitement or frustration.
You have now entered a HawksFanTV postgame space.
“I’d say it’s a it’s a good balance between controlled toxicity and constructive conversation,” HawksFanTV founder Alex Chung told Peachtree Hoops.
There are fanbase-specific Twitter spaces throughout the NBA. Perhaps the most-known moment was when Russell Westbrook’s brother hopped on a Los Angeles Lakers’ fan space to defend his brother’s eyesight. The most viral moment from a HawksFanTV spaces came minutes after the Hawks traded Cam Reddish for Kevin Knox.
Hawks fan Bolu was venting about Reddish, one of Atlanta’ most promising young pieces to the team’s 2021 first-round postseason foe in exchange for Knox, who hasn’t seen much playing time since his rookie year in 2018-19.
“Are you-are we- the KNICKS??!!” Bolu said. “The Knicks, are you stupid? The Kn- why would you do that? We play the n—-- this weekend. Bro, I hope Cam drop 50. I pray he drops 50, bro. I pray we lose to them n—--, and I pray it’s because of Cam, bro.”
Bolu left the space 10 seconds later.
Twitter Spaces brings the rollercoaster experience of sports’ fandom to life. It is an innovative concept the media world has never seen, as closest thing to it is a listener call-in segment on a sports radio show. The major difference in spaces and the radio is there’s no censorship or commercial-restricted time limits. The vent or discussion session just ends whenever the host feels like ending.
The sessions have gone from calling Clint Capela one of the worst starting centers in the league to another fan upset with Trae Young retweeting All-Star votes for himself while the team is struggling.
Chung calls spaces Twitter’s “best feature” and is appreciative of the outlet it gives him.
“[When] I’m watching amongst just my personal friend group, or like my girlfriend, they obviously aren’t into it as much as me because I’m a diehard fan,” Chung said. “So, when I when I yell or get really angry and throw something, they’re like, ‘Dude, you’re crazy. It’s just a game.’ But when you’re with those other people that are passionate just like you, it makes for a much more fun atmosphere.”
Chung is one of the older regulars on the spaces at 29. He started HawksFanTV in June 2021. A Kennesaw State graduate with a sales background, he went into the launch of the fan platform with a plan to have a social media presence across multiple platforms including YouTube and Twitter.
The Twitter page gained 200-500 followers a week in the early stages as the Hawks were in the midst of a highly-publicized playoff run. Chung posted giveaway opportunities in addition to unique team stats and memes mocking opposing teams to draw attention. On YouTube, he brought on team experts like Kevin Chouinard and Andrew Kelly as guests with platforms to establish the brand.
Then, Twitter released its beta version of spaces.
A handful of Hawks fans would come and talk about the team’s playoff run and John Collins’ pending contract extension. One day, draft expert Rashad Phillips appeared in a spaces and provided his input on the team. Phillips’ appearance garnered approximately 200-300 listeners. A few weeks later, Trae Young’s trainer Alex Bazzell appeared in the space. When the 2020-21 season began, Chung hosted consistent pre and post-game spaces. Over time, also thanks to Twitter group chats featuring 30-70 fans, the users grew closer to one another.
The fans got so close, Chung hosted a get-together, with approximately 30 attendees, on Jan. 7 as Atlanta lost to the Lakers on the road. One spaces regular, Dwight, has developed the reputation of being the “OG Unc” who comes on to calm down the more “emotional, younger fans” when they’re ready to trade everyone and fire Nate McMillan.
“A lot of fans disagree with each other, but at the end of the day, we’re one team, we’re one family and we’re supporting the same organization,” Chung said. “It’s funny and always fun to just hear other people’s opinions.”
Then, Reddish got traded to the Knicks.
For the next several days, the spaces’ peaked between 600 and 700 listeners, and Bolu’s rant made it to Barstool Sports.
The Hawks were in the midst of another losing streak and someone posted a tweet of Young sitting at the end of the bench, as far away from the rest of the team as possible. Chung got frustrated a fan took and posted the picture on Twitter and ended the spaces. He said that was the only time he let his emotions get the best of him, as he prides himself in being a level-headed guest.
Win or lose, Hawks fans all over the world, an international presence Chung thanks Young for brining in, have a place for immediate, raw fan takes.
What’s next for HawksFanTV?
“My goal is to be the biggest fan created outlet for all things Atlanta Hawks,” Chung said. “All the news, rumors, trades, debates and criticisms. I want people to go to HawksFanTV to find all that information. So if you’re a fan of the team, you know, your one-stop shop is go to hawksfantv.com.”