The Atlanta Hawks may have lost in the NBA’s Eastern Conference Finals, but they won over the hearts of the fans during a dizzying, record-shattering 2014-15 season that often incited a frenzy inside of Phillips Arena.
With Mayor Kasim Reed at the helm and V-103 radio personality Ryan Cameron handling the emcee duties, City Hall resembled game-time situations as throngs of fans packed City Hall for the “Appreciation Rally” for winning the most games in franchise history and advancing to the NBA Conference championship series for the first time ever.
Legend Dominique Wilkins helped welcome Hawks executives, coaches and players filed onto the stage to roof-rattling roars from the assembled crowd.
The Hawks gave fans much to cheer about. They won a franchise-record 60 regular-season games, earned a No. 1 seed, made their first appearance in the Eastern Conference finals, sent a team-record four players to the NBA All-Star Game, and Mike Budenholzer was named Coach of the Year.
“Our goal was simple,” Hawks CEO Steve Koonin told the crowd. “We wanted to be true to Atlanta.”
Reed presented the entire Hawks organization with the Phoenix Award, calling it the highest honor the city’s mayor can bestow.
“There are some other things that have happened,” Koonin said after rattling off the team’s on-court accomplishments. “We did unite a city. Sports are supposed to bring people together, and Atlanta has come together behind these Atlanta Hawks. And for that we are incredibly grateful.”
Afterward, the Hawks players waded into the crowd for autographs and photographs while the remainder of the crowd enjoyed stadium-type food of hotdogs, chips, meatball sandwiches and soft drinks.