Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Atlanta fans are just terrible. I realize that this concept pre-dates my high school career (See: Justice, David circa 1995) but from time to time, there needs to be a sort of reminder, or reboot. I’m sure Celtics fans were all over this notion last year when Mike Bibby called them “fair-weather” during the Hawks’ seven-game first-round epic with the C’s in ’08 (prompting one Atlanta blogger to remind Bibby that Hawks fans were best described as “no-weather”) and now it’s our turn.
Let’s take a look at some of the silliest things we saw last night in the ATL…
Ludicrous (Ludacris?) PA Prompting
Table and I were incredulous watching last night and hearing Philips Arena Public Address Man Ryan Cameron and some of the prompts he was giving the fans in the arena.
Before I elaborate, I want to remind you that three of the last four playoff years we’ve lived through the absolutely insufferable Mason in Detroit, so you really have to be absurd to catch our attention as a PA guy.
Anyway, I was particularly struck when the Hawks made their big charge to start the second quarter and Flip Murray canned his second free-throw to make it 25-24, this is the precise sequence of events:
- Murray FT makes it 25-24
- Cameron: “HAWKS LEAD!”
- Crowd: *cheers*
Really, Atlanta? Really? You need your PA guy to tell you that you’re ahead to react? I know we here in Cleveland take it a bit for “The Diff” on the scoreboard at the Q (see below), and Boston fans get it all the time for being horribly, horribly obnoxious, but could you find another NBA market where the concept would even be necessary for the fans to be incited via public address following a lead change? Anywhere? Of course not.
I wondered out loud to Table at this point if Cameron would need to point out if/when the Hawks crossed the 80-point barrier in Game Three. Turned out to be a moot point courtesy of the mass exodus at Philips with 3+ minutes left in the fourth.
So let me get this straight, Atlanta… your chosen method of trying to rattle the runaway league MVP is to boo him every time he touches the ball. I just want to make sure we’re on the same page, here.
This may have been a good idea for the first, maybe, five minutes of the game. Once LeBron–serenaded by the chorus of boos–took a foul on the floor from Mo Evans with no prayer of continuation and still took the ball to the hoop, threw down a thunderous one-hander and glared at the crowd just 5:40 into the first… maybe you should have reconsidered.
Because as has been proven time and time again, YOU DO NOT WANT TO PISS OFF LEBRON JAMES. Don’t believe me? Ask Chris Bosh’s girlfriend. Ask Spike Lee. (But please don’t tell Jack Nicholson)
And yet the boos persisted. I’m fairly positive I heard a nat-sound mic pick up LeBron say “They done pissed me off,” coming out of a TV timeout in the third quarter. And so… 47-12-8 happened.
On second thought, keep booing; inspire LeBron to wrap this up while I glare angrily at Carl Willis at tomorrow’s Indians game.
Pick Your Battles
So you were unhappy about the officiating last night? Really? WELCOME TO THE NBA; all Association referees are flat-out abysmal. Get used to it.
But if you choose to voice your displeasure over bad calls… make sure they’re bad calls, first. The foul that precipitated Lady Zaza getting the ol’ heave-ho was an obvious blocking foul (hello, protected area!) and even the T’s that ensued were borderline automatic technicals with the way Lady Zaza was carrying on and growling at the refs. The only real crime committed was Mike Tirico not commenting how we couldn’t see Lady Zaza’s poker face for the rest of the night. Le sigh.
Look… we get it, the Cavs get a lot of calls. It’s become such an annoying theme that ESPN contracted one of its TrueHoop bloggers to write a 100% pointless story on Bron-Bron’s so-called “star calls.”
That said, the calls to which the crowd reacted the most strongly were straightfoward calls. The blocking foul on Al Horford early in the fourth? The one that the crowd so virulently reacted to? His feet weren’t even close to set, nearly 19 feet from the hoop; easiest call ever!
If you want to boo uncalled hand-checks or overly physical defense by LeBron or Delonte West… be my guest! I encourage ALL NBA fans to boo bad refereeing; it’s become an epidemic in the league. It really has.
But you’re really discrediting yourselves by booing these black-and-white calls like this.
I don’t really know what I’m expecting out of Atlanta fans, though. At no point in the history of time have sports fans in the ATL ever shown the propensity for being passionate, knowledgeable or even interested.
I think the most I can hope for is self-respect… but then again, it’s not like the team on the floor at Philips is exactly leading by example in that department.
They’ll have a few months to work on all of this after Monday.