The Atlanta Hawks have an owner who conspired to get more white fans and fewer black fans to attend games.
They have a general manager who disparagingly said of a player, “he’s got some African in him.”
But look over there —->
The Atlanta Hawks and Philips Arena today announced plans to celebrate the 15th anniversary of Philips Arena and will construct a larger-than-life-size statue of Hawks’ legend Dominique Wilkins. The statue, which is to be unveiled at a special ceremony at Philips Arena on March 5, 2015, will be a symbol of the Hawks’ legend’s success as a player both on and off the court. Details of the statue and the ceremony will be released at a later date.
Additionally, the Hawks have named Wilkins as Special Advisor to CEO Steve Koonin and signed the legend to a new long-term partnership. He will also continue in his role as Vice President of Basketball.
“Being honored by the great City of Atlanta and my beloved Hawks team is incredibly humbling, I have to thank all the fans, the community and the Hawks organization, in particular the Gearon family, Rutherford Seydel and Tommy Dortch, who have been close friends and important figures since the day I was drafted,” said Wilkins. “I look forward to continuing my partnership with the team and the City for many years ahead.”
“There is no player more deserving of such an honor than Dominique for his continued commitment to the Hawks and the City of Atlanta. Beyond his amazing play on the court during his Hall-of-Fame career, he has been an ambassador for this franchise and the city for three decades,” Koonin said. “For all he has accomplished and continues to do for the Hawks franchise and the City of Atlanta, we are proud to bestow this permanent recognition of his legacy.”
The statue is a well-deserved honor for Wilkins, one of the NBA’s most exciting players ever. Every Hawks star since has been playing in his shadow – for a reason. Atlanta fans got used to Wilkins’ thrilling dunks, and it’s not easy to transition to lesser players.
Wilkins’ new role as an executive is interesting, at least if it’s not just superficial. Michael Gearon charged the Hawks’ front-office diversity had worsened under Danny Ferry’s watch. Wilkins could provide a needed voice – as an African-American, as a former player, as a link to fans.
Hopefully, this is part of real change for the better for the Hawks and not just window dressing.