Are the Atlanta Hawks Becoming an Elite Franchise?

While Hawks fans hop in front of their TV’s and watch the exciting team on display, the people in the front office are making sure this success is improved and sustained behind the scenes.

Atlanta Hawk analysts, fans and writers talk about the coaches and players all the time. That’s understandable, especially when they are the product and what we see on television. Having Coach of the Year Mike Budenholzer, All-Stars Dwight Howard and Paul Millsap and nine straight playoff appearances are hard to ignore. The on-court success has been evident, but the franchise has been making moves of their own.

The so called “suits” of this franchise have turned around what has been a forgotten franchise. Outside of Georgia, Atlanta has been much more known for it’s music and waffles rather than the basketball team it hosted. Even as they made the playoffs year after year, this team had made no more than a blip on the national radar.  That was until previous owner Bruce Levenson’s unfortunate email concerning Luol Deng reached headlines.

Jun 25, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; (left to right) Atlanta Hawks owner Tony Ressler Atlanta Hawks owner Grant Hill, Atlanta Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer, and Atlanta Hawks ceo Steve Koonin are shown during a press conference at Philips Arena. The Atlanta Hawks officially announced today that it was purchased by an ownership group led by Tony Ressler. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Sometimes, you have to move backwards to move forwards. That seems to prove true with the Hawks. Soon after that controversy, the Hawks were sold to Tony Ressler’s ownership group. The aforementioned suits are now Ressler, manager Wes Wilcox, and CEO Steve Koonin. Spearheaded by the native Atlantan and passionate Koonin, Atlanta’s NBA team has quickly become a real player in the league.

Culture Change

The franchise has seen plenty of fresh, positive changes.a They began to focus more on their urban fanbase to improve tickets sales and the fan experience. Also, the Atlanta Hawks re-branded to become the Atlanta Hawks Basketball Club. With it came the fan favorite “pac-man logo”, new uniform designs and new uniform colors to better represent the state of Georgia. Those colors, Torch Red, Volt Green, and Georgia Granite, resonate with Atlantans much more.

Further channeling the spirit of its city, the Hawks have invited several hometown artists to play at games in recent seasons. That’s included Ludacris, T.I., Big Boi and an upcoming show from Gucci Mane. (Here’s hoping we get an appearance from Outkast in the future.) Being so in tune with its city’s culture has definitely made the organization #TrueToAtlanta. These new adaptions (and an trip to the Conference Finals) lit a fire under the fans, but Koonin and the front office have just gotten started.

May 22, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; General view of t-shirts on the seats prior to game two of the Eastern Conference Finals of the NBA Playoffs between the Atlanta Hawks and the Cleveland Cavaliers at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta Face-Lift

The Atlanta Hawks Basketball Club has also brought its toolbox out, constructing many things around the city. They’ve teamed up with Emory to build a state of the art training facility and world class medical center. Whether it will keep the players in the best of shape or attract free agents, the facility is undoubtedly a plus for future team success. In further efforts to improve the team, College Park is now expecting a D-League in 2018. This will be the first such team to be affiliated with the Hawks.

Also expected in 2018 are the renovations for the Hawks’ home of Phillips Arena. The remodel will give the arena improved sight lines, an upgraded video system and up-to-date suites. This decision also showcases the owners’ intent to stay downtown, a definite benefit for the city. Atlanta is also benefiting from the top of the line outdoor courts springing up all over the city, being sponsored by the team of course. Keeping kids active and off the streets is one of the best things that can be done for youth in the city, a great move by the this team.

Marquee Status

The newly minted Atlanta Hawks Basketball Club is checking off all the boxes to become a big name NBA franchise. Active in the community: check. Possess a state of the art infrastructure: well on the way. Stay fresh and entertaining: consider it done. The front office has done its part in keeping up with star studded product on the court. Atlanta fans should be excited, as the franchise is about to serve notice to the association. Case in point, Atlanta is on the rise.

Oh, and I didn’t mention the new court projections, but they’re awesome:

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