Are We Spoiled?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011
By Jon Newberry

There is a price to pay for success. Plus, with attention spans shortening along with patience in our 21st century society, when people see a hint of potential, they want results NOW.

The Atlanta Hawks have endured their fair share of criticism in recent years, and with an 82-game schedule and some plenty of ups and downs it is understandable that there wouldn’t be a constant showering of praise. Still, when you look at the last four years as a whole, have we been a little spoiled with this team?

Consider that the Hawks are one of just seven teams that have made it to the playoffs each of the past four seasons and one of only three teams (Boston and the Lakers are the others) that have made it to the second round the last three years.

Some make the argument that the Hawks have not performed well in the playoffs (before this season), but in the last four years Atlanta is the only team that has made the playoffs each year that has beaten a higher seed while never losing to a lower seed.

I was prompted to write this post when putting together the Season Rewind. I was thinking about the team’s most impressive games of the season and the blowout win in Utah came to mind as a game when everything was clicking. Joe was hitting shots, Jamal hit from everywhere (including halfcourt), and everyone else was locking their men down on defense. Jerry Sloan was calling timeouts every other minute in the first half to try and change the momentum.

That Utah team made me think about how much we take for granted. That team was 14 games over .500 on January 14, with their Hall of Fame Coach (Sloan) leading the team from the bench, and their All-Star point guard (Deron Williams) leading the team on the court. Fast-forward four months and they are limping to the end of the regular season, missing the playoffs, and Sloan (resigned) and Williams (traded) are no longer in the picture. Things CAN change that fast in this league.

But for the Hawks it hasn’t. Atlanta has kept their roster intact, looking for upgrades here and there, but making sure that they don’t have to endure a full collapse.

The Utah example was the catalyst for this post, but there are many more that have occurred over the past few years. Remember, it was just 2008 when Detroit won 59 games and was the #2-seed in the East. That same year Gilbert Arenas led the Wizards to a fifth seed.

Denver pushed the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals in 2009, but they haven’t made it out of the first round since and now feature a completely revamped roster without Melo or Chauncey.

Milwaukee looked like an up-and-coming team with Jennings and Bogut, and even made some aggressive moves in the offseason by signing Chris Douglas-Roberts and Corey Maggette, but they never seemed to mesh this season on their way to just 35 wins.

And we haven’t even mentioned what happened to the Cavs after their MVP flew the coop.

All I am getting at is that sustained success in this league is rare and should be appreciated. All indications point to the Hawks returning to the playoffs next season, but nothing is guaranteed in the NBA.

It has been a great four years and the recent postseason push has made the key players even hungrier. Here’s to keeping the Highlight Factory operating at full capacity moving forward.

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