On the night the Atlanta Hawks broke the 11-game winning streak of the Cleveland Cavaliers, I was stuck at a company holiday dinner.
I drove past Philips Arena, turned on my radio, and heard Ludacris do the pre-game PA Announcements for Ryan Cameron as the 'Atl-iens' went crazy in 'Black-Hollywood'. I then turned up I-75 and continued on to One Mid-Town Kitchen in Buckhead (The calamari is great!).
I was periodically checking my Blackberry for the score and getting text messages from my Ohio friends; who were sitting somewhere between Rihanna and Jermaine Dupree. I then suddenly realized that I was pulling for the Hawks and not my (old) hometown Cavaliers.
I’m originally from Cincinnati, a city that has long been without an NBA team (Kansas City stole our team, the Royals, and changed their name to the Kings – who’ve since moved on to Sacramento). Consequently, I have pulled for the Cavaliers since the Brad Daugherty/Mark Price days; although this felt sort of like a consolation prize.
While I was a Cavs fan, I also cheered for Dominique Wilkins, Rameel Robinson, Moses Malone, and Kevin Willis. I went to college only 90 minutes away from Atlanta, and remember the Shareef Abdur-Raheem billboards that were on I-85. This was when he was the hometown-Atlanta product that reigned supreme.
I’ve suffered through many a draft debacle with my ‘old’ hometown team, the Cavs. I’ve watched them draft Dajaun Wagner, who was supposed to be the next Allen Iverson (and who instead turned out to be the next Harold Miner).
I’ve also watched them draft All-Star-caliber talent and let it slip away through their fingers; such as Carlos Boozer, Andre Miller, Kevin Johnson, and Jamal Crawford.
With my ‘new’ hometown team, the Hawks, I’ve also suffered. I had to watch Rasheed Wallace come and go just as quickly as Dr. J did in the '70s.
Yes, the Hawks have sucked, and I’ve watched it year after year on TBS and FOX Sports South. However, for many years after the Brad Daugherty/Mark Price years, so did the Cavs.
I remember watching LeBron’s first game at a TGI Friday’s in Anniston, AL. I was excited and happy we had a hometown hero who had his roots in Ohio. Hopeful that in a few years I might have a team worth cheering for, and that might actually go somewhere.
However, at the tip-off of the Cavs vs. Hawks game last Saturday, I once again found myself pulling for my 'new' hometown team, the Hawks, rather than my 'old' hometown team, the Cavs.
Both my sons were born on Peachtree Street, right across from Gladys Night’s Chicken and Waffle. My oldest (a three-year-old) yells, “LET'S GO HAWKS!” when he sees basketball.
He loves waving the white towel I saved for him when the Hawks forced the Celtics to seven games last year. When that gets boring for him, he asks me to pin the towel to his back so he can play Superman.
Only a year ago I caught the Cavs v. Hawks and didn’t know whom I’d cheer for and fell into rooting for LeBron and cringing when Larry Hughes touched the ball (just like a good Cavs fan should do).
One year and three home playoff wins later, I find have a place in my heart for the Cavs, but as my address proves, I have a new home. I’m now a Hawks fan through and through.
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