For the first time in Magazines 16 year history the Atlanta Hawks are on the cover of SLAM Magazine. It is a testament to the season that the Hawks have had and the growth this franchise has enjoyed over the last few seasons.
Pictured on the cover are Joe Johnson, Al Horford, and Josh Smith. Each player has been key in the Hawks resurgence as a franchise. SLAM writer and self proclaimed “biggest possible Hawks advocate already here at SLAM” Lang Whitaker writes about the Hawks inclusion on the cover:
But now the Hawks are balling. They may not be at that level with Cleveland or L.A., but the Hawks are currently one win away from their first 50 win season in over a decade.
It is only right that the team’s improved play garner it some exposure. Joe Johnson is perhaps the biggest free agent signing this team has ever had, a four time All Star, he was the first and arguably the most important piece in the Hawks long road back to respectability. The other two players featured in the cover shoot Al Horford, and Josh Smith are pillars that give us Hawks fans hope for the future. Both are young and both seem to only be scratching the surface of their potential.
Josh Smith is in his sixth season as a pro but still is only 24 years old and is enjoying his finest season to date. Al Horford is in his third season and is just a couple of months shy of his 24th birthday. The Hawks have made the playoffs in each of Horford’s three seasons in the NBA. One of the reasons the Hawks valued him so high in the 2007 NBA draft was because of his winning pedigree coming out of the University of Florida as a back to back National Champion. That pedigree has carried over from the college ranks to the pros.
I don’t know how the Playoffs are going to play out, but I do know the Hawks, for the first time in forever, stand a fighting chance against pretty much anyone. And for a Hawks fan like myself, that’s all I can ask for. – Lang Whitaker, SLAM ONLINE
Sometimes I get caught up thinking how good this team could have been had they won every game I felt like they should have. Which is in itself crazy because it just simply doesn’t happen over an 82 game season. Instead this season needs to be celebrated somewhat. As a young Hawk fan I took for granted the good teams of the Dominique era and the Mookie, Smitty, and Mutombo era. Back then whether or not they were actually title contenders or not the Hawks felt relevant to me at least. Then at least I could never for see that the struggles that would eventually plague the franchise.
They may not win a championship this year and it has been a long sometimes tumultuous ride but the Hawks are relevant once again.