The Atlanta Hawks need Ray Allen AKA Jesus Shuttlesworth. That isn’t to say that this team is in some way lacking the merit necessary to make it far in the playoffs, or that he is some how the missing link. In all honesty with the amount of NBA action he has already missed and the time it would take him to acquiesce to the team and round himself into NBA shape I’d venture to say Ray-Ray would only be playing about 12-15 minutes a night making him in essence the upgrade for Shelvin Mack. Fortunately that isn’t the reason we need Ray, for us he would serve a much greater purpose. He’d make us matter.
Ray has narrowed his finalist for teams he’d play for to seven much like what high school kids just did in the spectacle that is National Signing Day. Also like the teenagers his actions are much akin to, his list compiles only of the “who’s – who” in the NBA: Cleveland with LeBron, a Return to Miami, the lights of LA, Chicago, defending champ San Antonio, Washington with former Ubuntu brother Paul Pierce, West leading Golden State to become the “Splash-Father” and Atlanta. The fact that the ATL is even mentioned shows a shift in the paradigm of the NBA Free Agent destination landscape. Imagine how it would be perceived by the outside basketball world if a 2 time Champion deems his best chance to piggyback another ring is in the “Shoe-Modeling” Capital of the world. This could be the push other high profile FA’s need to take Atlanta’s pitch more seriously.
In the past Atlanta has been a destination of athlete’s in the off-season, a place to relax before flying back out to their real job of trying to win a title. The highest profile free agent the Hawks have gotten to this point in their history is Paul Milsap who came in so under the radar that Atlanta was able to snag him for a mere 18 million over 2 years. It’s awesome that he becoming such a rousing success is part of the reason that ATL now has such a high Q-Rating.
In the past players could point to organizational turmoil, bad coaching, and a crappy fan base as reasons not to sign with Atlanta. This year the trickle-down effect has been in full force and this organization has been as steady handed and focus as I’ve ever seen in my 23 years of fandom and the crowds are following suit with raucous sell outs every night in each of the most recent home games. Now imagine what the city that introduced the world to “Freak-Nik” would look like hosting a championship parade.