Atlanta fans are not the best in the NBA. Not by a long shot.
That is a shame. D.J. Foster provides an excellent soundtrack at Philips Arena. The team has been to the Playoffs each of the last seven years, with three series wins in those seven years.
Yes, the Hawks have never been to the Conference Finals in their team history. Yes, attendance at “The Highlight Factory” is lagging — despite the Playoff run, the Hawks have never finished better than 18th in attendance according to Basketball-Reference and were 28th of 30 teams in attendance last season. When the Playoffs come around, the building is energized, but for the most part Philips Arena is lifeless.
It is hard to imagine the Hawks contributing much then to Forbes’ 2014 list of America’s Most Miserable Sports Cities.
Atlanta is a major sports city with the Falcons and Braves also playing in addition to the Hawks. It is clearly a NFL town, but the Falcons fell short of a Super Bowl two years ago despite home field advantage and missed the playoffs altogether last year. The Braves are perpetual NL East contenders, but have just a few World Series appearances and one championship to show for it.
So why is Atlanta the most miserable sports city? Tom Van Riper of Forbes explains:
That kind of outcome would be more tack-on points to a history of sports misery for Atlanta, which ranks first on our list of America’s Most Miserable Sports Cities thanks to just one title (the 1995 Braves) in 162 cumulative sports seasons since the 1960s.
The ranking is based mostly on what Van Riper describes as the “letdown” factor. That is, teams that have been good enough to build up fans’ hopes only to come up perpetually short.
Atlanta teams certainly fit that bill.
The Hawks are part of that. Atlanta’s NBA team is perpetually mediocre and incapable of taking that next step into contention. Even as the team traded away Joe Johnson and let Josh Smith walk in free agency, the team would not sink to the bottom and restock draft picks. Instead, the Hawks are waiting for Al Horford to get healthy.
It should be noted that in Van Riper’s analysis, the Hawks are not mentioned at all. That should be some symbol of how off to the margins the Hawks have become. Attendance certainly suggests the team has failed to move the needle (aside from a solid group of passionate fans who built one of the first college-style cheering sections in the NBA).
When will the Hawks become a contender? They seem far away right now. At least nobody appears to be watching.
What other NBA cities make the list? Here are some thoughts:
No. 1 Atlanta
No. 2 Phoenix: Suns have been to the NBA playoffs 19 times, including the Western Conference Final eight times, with no rings.
No. 3 Cleveland: LeBron: Deliver us from Purgatory.
No. 6 Houston
No. 7 Denver: Meltdown by Peyton Manning & Co. against Seattle dropped Broncos to 2-5 in Super Bowls. Nuggets have been to the NBA or ABA playoffs in more than half of their 47 seasons, with no championships.
No. 9 Minnesota
No. 10 Philadelphia
What do you think of the list?