Jeremy JohnsonComment

State Farm Arena is True to Atlanta

Jeremy JohnsonComment
State Farm Arena is True to Atlanta

The Hawks pride themselves on being true to Atlanta. That saying 'True to Atlanta' is splattered all over the franchise. 

It's on their social media. #TrueToAtlanta is their calling card online. If you're from Atlanta, you know that hashtag stands as a signal to outside fan bases. Not of good, but of calamity. 

See 2014. Hawks won 60 games and electrified the city, only to become the first team to be swept in the Eastern Conference Finals as they ran into the Lebron James train leaving from Cleveland. 

Let's take a step away from Atlanta's Hawks for a second. Two years ago the Atlanta Falcons held a 28-3 lead over the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. 

The city's breath was taken. The city was about to experience it's first major sports championship since 1995. The team that had earned the reputation as chokers for lack of a nicer term was taking the NFL's dynasty to the woodshed.

The rest shall not be repeated, at least by me. Just know it was breathtaking as it was to watch the Falcons run out to the ordinarily insurmountable lead. 

As I sadly fiddled on my phone late that night, the hashtag #TrueToAtlanta crept across my timeline multiple times. 

In a way it was. Atlanta, no. The state of Georgia has seemingly been cursed when it comes to sports in big moments. Anything that can happen, will.

#TrueToAtlanta. 

In my mind, it stuck, and it has since. Nothing has changed that. Back to the Hawks. I made my first entrance into the newly named and renovated State Farm Arena. 

In the months since the rename, I've been Scrounge about the entire thing. I grew up knowing Hawks' basketball in The Omni and the in Phillips Arena, and I didn't want it to change.

It was my childhood Arena. I'd watched the Hawks make a decade straight-worth of playoff appearances in that building. The Hawks missed the playoffs for the first time in over ten years last season. 

They were rewarded with a new face of the franchise in Trae Young, the fifth overall selection in the summer's NBA Draft.

I'll be honest; I'd watched Young in college and was skeptical. A 6 foot 1-inch tall point guard couldn't possibly be the new face of the Atlanta Hawks. 

Don't worry. I got my shut up and enjoy it moment on Wednesday night. 

The entrance to the building is all that is the same about the Hawks from last year.

After my first 15 steps into the building, I knew. Something new is cooking in Atlanta. 

I expected Phillips Arena with some upgrades, but that's not what I found.  Instead, it was a new arena altogether. 

Breathtaking. 

Isn't that true to Atlanta?

Everything is so shiny, and it all smells so new. Young came into the night off a game in which he scored 35 points and dished out 11 assists. Only two other players have done that as rookies, and that's Lebron James and Stephen Curry.

There's no arguing with numbers. There's no arguing with the energy. I sat among the crowd for an hour pre-game. Photos were taken, fans sent out wave upon waves of 'whoa'. The talk of Young's sniper ability was on the tips of many tongues. 

I've haven't or seen this much excitement leading into a Hawks' game for a few years now. 

It was refreshing, even as an objective observer. 

It felt like the good times in Atlanta. It felt like things could be good for a long time. The Hawks have a home, and Young is on his way to being the face or one of the faces. 

State Farm Arena is the beginning, but it also a acts as a bit of a metaphor for the progression of the franchise back into a perennial playoff contender. 

Tomorrow calamity may be waiting (as it usually is for Georgia teams), but for now, it's exciting. That too is #TrueToAtlanta