It’s been feeling like the dark days again—1989, anyone?—in Atlanta professional sports. The suburb-bound Braves are in the midst of a down-to-the-ball-boys rebuild, and the Falcons haven’t put together a winning season since 2012. Meanwhile, it’s been 55 seasons since the Hawks (then in St. Louis) played for (and lost) an NBA championship. This season isn’t likely to break that streak with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors returning at full strength. Yet the Hawks are certainly worth watching. In 2014–2015, they won 60 games for the first time ever, and after making it to the second round of the playoffs last season (and acquiring a phalanx of born-again fans), they’ve picked up one of the greatest ever Atlanta-born hoopers: Dwight “Superman” Howard. There are caveats, of course. Howard, a center who turns 31 in December, is slightly past his prime and known to drive coaches mad. And the Hawks parted ways with fan favorite all-stars Al Horford and Jeff Teague in the off-season. But plucky German-born Dennis Schröder is poised to replace Teague, and we’re excited to see Howard paired with power forward Paul Millsap. What else? Well, 22-year-old rookie DeAndre Bemry may have the most impressive, well-groomed Afro in the league. And that’s a return to the 1980s we can enjoy.
This article originally appeared in our November 2016 issue.