You may have noticed some changes around here — namely a lot of articles with my name on the byline recently. The rumors are true: there has been a site editor change.
But before we get into that, let me reintroduce myself. My name is Wesley Morton, or Wes for short, and I recently took over as the managing editor of Peachtree Hoops.
Funnily enough, this is not a position I ever expected to hold. I’m as far away as you could imagine from being a journalist by trade. Those who know me know that I would rather be crunching numbers over writing.
As a kid growing up in Henry County, I always enjoyed NBA basketball. While I watched as many national prime time TV games as possible, I’d only occasionally (more on that later) watch the local broadcasts featuring the iconic voice of Bob Rathbun. Every once in a while, I would attend a game in then Philips Arena with my dad and brother.
I was certainly a budding young sports fan as a kid, but whereas I immediately took to the Braves and the Falcons, the Hawks were mired at the bottom of a rebuild. Trying to watch and root for a 28-54 team, let alone a 13-69 team, is hard as an impressionable kid as some of you can attest. I vaguely remember Shareef Abdur-Rahim putting up lots and lots of points. I do remember the Rasheed Wallace one-game Hawks stint. Most fondly from that era, I have visions of Josh Smith representing Atlanta in the dunk contest.
But this was largely through the prism of the local paper, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Every morning, I would always go straight to the sports section in the newspaper to mentally break down the figures in the box scores. It was simply easier to do than to get invested in a way that I had with other teams. After all, who wants to root for a losing team? Or at least this was my justification — as narrow a view as it was at the time. And this continued on for years up until high school when I had both more personal autonomy and an internet connection to hunt down sports stats and videos.
Let’s jump to the first time I knew I was a fan of the Atlanta Hawks. After eight years without playoff basketball, the Hawks tangled with the eventual champion Boston Celtics in a back-and-forth seven-game series. No one gave the Hawks much of a chance to test the first modern ‘Big 3’ in Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen.
But there were the Hawks, led by Joe Johnson, matching the Celtics blow for blow once the series shifted home venues.
I had never heard Atlanta home crowds like that. And, of course, Zaza Pachulia’s ‘Nothing Easy’ speech after Game 6 lives on in Hawks lore. I was hooked.
Once in college — go Jackets — I found myself needing to find out more about the sports I followed. Eventually I made my way past the local and national papers onto the sports blogging scene. The musings of Bret LaGree at Hoopinion and the crew at Peachtree Hoops both brought a unique perspective of Hawks fandom while also analyzing the game beyond just points, rebounds, and assists.
Around a decade ago, I became active in the comments section of Peachtree Hoops under the username Beachy Keen (shoutout Braves pitcher Brandon Beachy). I may have even interacted with some of you at various point. And by that time, learning about the inner workings of the NBA became almost an obsession.
After years of reading those fan perspectives, I thought it was time to try my hand at writing. And man, it was a lot harder than it originally seemed to express yourself in writing about the game and team you love.
But I kept at it. Bit by bit I developed my own voice in writing about the Hawks for various blog outlets.
Still, I knew it would never be a big part of my future given the state of the industry and my own personal ambitions. So, I moved on from blogging after college and focused a different career after moving away from Georgia entirely.
But of course, I never stopped following the Hawks.
I was fortunate to be invited to write for Peachtree Hoops in 2020 by a previous editor and someone I’ve blogged with before, Brad Rowland, right at 10 years after first stumbling onto the site. It came as a great honor given how much the blog has shaped how I saw and understood the Hawks as a team and a franchise.
After years without actively blogging, I had to relearn how to express myself through the medium.
The excitement of the 2020-21 season certainly gave me and others at the site much to write about, and after moving back to Atlanta, I felt that I wanted to be even more involved in coverage of the team. I began attending games in State Farm Arena as a member of the media.
And just as I had done earlier, the last editor Zach Hood moved on from blogging after a two-year run. And his recommendation was given that I succeed him — which brings us to today.
I’m fortunate to have a great staff of writers to post breaking news and pitch in new ideas to cover. To be clear, we are not a collection of reporters or a site that necessarily breaks news. We are a fan blog, and I intend to cover the team from that angle while continuing to upholding journalistic standards. Occasionally cynicism tends to cloud fandom — and as an Atlanta sports fan, it’s very understandable why that phenomenon occurs. However I do want to make a point of emphasizing a ‘fan-first’ angle going forward — but certainly only in a respectful manner free of the toxicity that usually comes with the territory.
Most of all, I’m a native Atlantan with nothing but pride for my city and its culture. My sports allegiances have varied over time, but if it’s Atlanta anything versus the world, there’s only one side I’m rooting for in that scenario.
So as we approach the 2023-24 season, I like to thank everyone for their support thus far and the opening of doors to put me in this position. It’s truly a privilege to take over the blog, and I and our staff will strive to continue to bring you the best online coverage of the team we all follow so closely.
You can always reach out to me on Twitter/X @bloghawk. My replies tend to fill up, but I always try to answer all direct messages. Fanposts and Fanshots are always welcome. Or if you have a tip or suggestion, please email me at this link. And if you see me in State Farm Arena, you can always say ‘hi’. I would love to hear from any and everyone who reads the blog.
Go Hawks and stay tuned.