Georgia lawmakers honor streaking Hawks

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal met with the Hawks CEO Steve Koonin, Hall of Famer Dominique Wilkins and team senior vice president David Lee during Tuesday's visit to the Statehouse.

ATLANTA — Even Georgia’s elected officials have gotten caught up in the love affair with the streaking Hawks.

Inside the office of Gov. Nathan Deal, Dominique Wilkins — the Hall of Famer and SportSouth analyst — and team CEO Steve Koonin posed for photos Tuesday at the Statehouse before making their way to the Senate Mezzanine room.

Joined by coach Mike Budenholzer, shooting guard Kyle Korver and forward Elton Brand, they entertained a procession of senators, representatives, aides and others, smiling for cameras and signing autographs.

"I think the state of Georgia has always embraced this team," Koonin said. "But I think the state of Georgia is squeezing really tight right now … and that feels really good."

The Hawks, winner of 16 straight games — the longest run in Atlanta pro sports history — were recognized by the Georgia General Assembly for their sportsmanship, citizenship and economic impact on the city.

"We’re just honored to have the Atlanta Hawks here in our capital city," said Deal. "We’re very proud of (the streak). It gives Georgia something else to be celebrating in terms of our professional sports teams in the state.

"They’re at the top of the heap right now and we hope they continue there and we’re looking forward to a championship."

Wilkins had been in front of the legislature before as he was presented a state resolution naming him Georgia’s Diabetes Ambassador in March 2010, but this was his first time as a Hawk — which dates back to 1984 — that the team had been so honored.

"This is great, this is wonderful and I don’t think guys know on our team how big this honor is … to have them recognize your hard work," he said.

At 37-8, the Hawks boast the best record in the Eastern Conference, leading the Wizards by seven games. Their 20 home wins trail only the Warriors (21) and Atlanta boasts an NBA-best 17 victories on the road.

By virtue of the East lead, it also boasts the coach for the Feb. 15 All-Star Game in Budenholzer.

"I think everybody’s excited about our players and what our organization is doing," Budenholzer said. "We’re all doing it together. It’s something we can all participate in and something everybody can be excited about."

That was evident by the reception the Hawks received at the state house, where on the tables behind them in the Senate Mezzanine room were lined with donuts featuring the team’s Pac-Man logo.

"It’s a good time to be a Hawk. It’s a good time to live in Atlanta," said Korver.