I haven’t written here in a long time (since the Hawks were eliminated from the postseason) and I’ve gone through a flurry of emotions towards my team. Not the good kind of flurry from McDonald’s either. The kind of flurry that makes you not want to think or talk about the team. I’ve gotten past that now and I’m willing to share what I was feeling with you. I’m finally able to talk about it comfortably and I’ve found inner peace. So if you’re remotely interested in the state of my Atlanta Hawks fandom, then I encourage you to read on, my friends.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I became a Hawks fan when I was just a young lad in middle school. My cousins won free tickets to a Hawks game and I had never been to an NBA game so I said what the heck, I’ll go. This was back in the 2005-2006 season when the Hawks were very much identical to the present-day Charlotte Bobcats. They weren’t fun to watch. Some people would say that they still aren’t but those same people are irrelevant to me.
I figured that I needed to do a little research about this team that I was going to watch. Lo and behold, Joe Johnson was actually scheduled to do an interview for WSB-TV in Atlanta the Sunday night before the game. So I tuned in and said “I’ll cheer for that guy when I go to the game” for the lone fact that he was the only person on the team I now “knew”.
I went to the game, which was against the Chicago Bulls very much before the Derrick Rose era. It wasn’t exactly a marquee matchup but I honestly had fun despite the fact that the Hawks lost (as they did more often than not that season). Thus my fandom was born. I found myself rooting for the Hawks and watching their games wishing so badly for them to win. They were the young underdogs and I loved them to pieces. In fact, I remember the first time I saw them win. I remember like it was yesterday. It was against Kevin Garnett and the Minnesota Timberwolves that same season. 101-99.
That team that struggled so much was led by Joe Johnson. He came from a winning situation in Phoenix to a team that was far from even clinching a playoff berth. He didn’t run his mouth or catch attitudes. Instead he came to work every night and singlehandedly tried to carry the Hawks on his back. This was when Josh Smith was still a baby. Joe Johnson had no help at all. I admired him profusely for this and I still do.
So for the next seven seasons, I was a diehard Hawks fan and a diehard Joe Johnson fan. I watched every single Hawks telecast that came on TV. If it didn’t come on TV, then I listened to it on the radio. I proudly held my love for the Hawks on display and accepted the smirks and teases that others gave me when they found out. I LOVED my team even when seemingly no one else did.
But here recently in Atlanta, fans turned on Joe Johnson inevitably because of the infamous contract. My opinion on that contract? I wish we hadn’t signed him for SO much but I wanted him here without a doubt. * Joe Johnson Shrug * I’ll admit that I was happy because I thought to myself “we have him for another 6 years”.
July 2nd, 2012: The day that Joe Johnson was traded from the Atlanta Hawks.
During the summer of 2012, I started hearing very strong rumors that Joe Johnson was going to be traded. Let me preface this by saying that I LOATHE trade season. I find no pleasure in freaking out over who could be potentially leaving our squad. When I love my team, I love each and every person on that squad regardless of how much they actually contribute to the team. That’s just the way I am – love it or hate it. So I tried to block out these rumors surrounding Joe the best way that I could but I had a bad feeling in my stomach the entire time.
Then it became official.
I cried twice.
Joe Johnson was the glue that held me to being a Hawks fan. So without him on the team, was I even a fan anymore? I had a very hard time with this, which was even more difficult when seemingly everyone else in Atlanta was rejoicing over the fact that Joe Johnson was gone along with that huge contract. This is the guy whose first all-star jersey my sister and I purchased from his home state of Arkansas. The guy whose trading cards and figurines we collected. The guy who we SO badly wanted to meet but sadly never had the chance to. The guy that I will defend to the end of the earth to this very day. Don’t test it.
This is what I’ve come to terms with: Joe Johnson was very kind to Atlanta. He did a lot for this city and for this team. He did it with a great attitude and a great work ethic. But when that contract was signed, people placed a lot of expectations on Joe, which I thought were unfair. Because he couldn’t meet those expectations, things turned sour. Joe Johnson is in a better situation now. I don’t want him to be booed. I want him to be appreciated. Atlanta didn’t feel that way about Joe anymore and it was time for him to go.
In conclusion of my Joe Johnson rant, I’m really happy for him and I look forward to following his career in Brooklyn. He came to Atlanta and he conquered. Look at where we were and where we are now and tell me that Joe Johnson was not a huge factor. I dare you.
To the person(s) still reading this, thank you for allowing me to finally talk about the inner turmoil that I struggled with during the basketball offseason. I actually completely gave myself a personal NBA lockout and became a baseball fan. I’m excited to have basketball back and I’m looking forward to tonight’s season opener against James Harden and the Houston Rockets. Yes, I’m still a fan of the Hawks but our relationship was seriously tested. I don’t know if it will ever be like it was before, but it’s still there. The Atlanta Hawks were my first love and love hurts apparently.