Cursed, Careless, or Chokers? Atlanta sports teams’ destinies discussed
April 9, 2018
Sports fans all across the globe know how to deal with the success and heartbreak that comes with supporting a team. Certain teams hoist the hallmarks of their fair share of success over the years, such as the New England Patriots in the NFL and the Golden State Warriors in the NBA. With the success of teams means other teams do not achieve the feeling of winning a championship, and one city knows that feeling all too well.
Atlanta has had teams in the NBA, MLB, and NFL collectively for over 154 years and can only claim one championship. Over the years of hardship, Atlanta fans have dealt with the gloating of other team fandoms about how the Atlanta teams tend to “choke” in clutch moments, like Super Bowl 51 when the Falcons blew a 25 point lead in 17 minutes to the New England Patriots. Many dub the city of Atlanta as possessed by an unbeatable curse, one where they find themselves fated to never perform well in the most significant moments of games, especially in the playoffs.
When the Hawks moved from St. Louis to Atlanta in 1966, they had not reached the NBA finals and only reached the Eastern Conference (EC) Finals one time in 2015 where they faced off against Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers and lost 4-0 in the series.
“I remember getting so excited to see them play and have a chance to get to the biggest stage in all of basketball. Like many predicted, they did not have that elite style of team basketball and pass first mentality that they had the entire season leading up to this huge match up with the Cavs. It seemed like they were all trying to do the job themselves,” senior Sky Vinson said.
As of publication, the Hawks hold the last spot in the EC standings and look to tank the rest of the season in order to secure a top draft pick. The young talent on the roster seems promising, and with a top pick likely coming in this year’s draft, hopefully the team can turn in the near future. Atlanta fans presently brace themselves to have to deal with the abysmal state the Hawks sit in at the moment.
“If we get the #1 pick, we need to draft Luka Doncic. We need a shooting guard and he has a skill set that can make other players around him better,” Vinson said.
The Atlanta Braves currently stand as the only professional sports team from Atlanta to win a championship, 23 years ago when they beat the Cleveland Indians four games to two. That Braves team received the nickname of “The Team of the 90’s,” but when fans takes a look at history, that nickname should not hold true. They achieved eight straight postseason berths, five trips to the World Series to only garner one championship.
“It doesn’t make sense to me how they only one championship during that decade. They had 4 now hall of famers on the roster and made it to the World Series five times. Just adds to the lure of the choking Atlanta Sports teams,” senior Malik Balogun said.
Now the Braves sit in the final stages of their rebuild. They have not earned a playoff spot since 2012 when they lost three straight games to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the divisional round.
“That series devastated me as a Braves fan. All Dodgers fans do is gloat and brag about being good so when we lost to them I did not hear an end of it from all of them,” Balogun said.
The young talent acquired through their recent drafts, free agent signings, and trades, like shortstop Dansby Swanson and center fielder Ronald Acuna, now seem worthy to play in the major leagues and make an impact on the starting lineup already loaded with talent.
“I’m most looking forward to see Acuna play this year. If he can develop how everyone thinks he will then he’ll definitely lead us to the promised land,” Balogun said.
First baseman and likely candidate for the National League MVP award Freddie Freeman and pitcher Julio Teheran look to lead the newly loaded and prepared Braves squad into the playoffs for the first time in six years.
“I have high hopes for this Braves season. I’m hoping we at least make it to the playoffs, winning the division is certainly a stretch since the Nationals show no sign of slowing down. Of course I had these same thoughts before last season and we were trash so I guess we’ll just have to wait,” Balogun said.
The ultimate form of the Atlanta Curse showed on February 5, 2017, the date of Super Bowl 51. This date and game sits heavily in the hearts of all Atlanta sports fans as the 2016 NFL MVP Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons blew a 28-3 lead with 17 minutes left in the game. Sports fans and analysts across the nation agree that the collapse by the Falcons marks as the worst choke in all of sports history.
“I turned the TV off after Robert Alford got the pick six to make it 21-0 at the end of the second quarter. I thought the game was definitely over after that,” senior and New England Patriots fan Alan Berkoski said.
Back-to-back playoff seasons in 2016-17 occured for the first time for the Falcons since 2011-12. They look to still compete for a Super Bowl, especially this coming up season when the Super Bowl comes to Atlanta.
“It would basically be a home game for the Falcons, so if they were going to win a Super Bowl, it should definitely be this one. It would stand alone as probably one of the greatest moments in Atlanta Sports History,” Balogun said.
The only satisfaction Atlanta fans can achieve from winning a championship would come from playing video games where the illusion and fantasy of winning can provide some relief to those continually oppressed by their franchise’s disappointments.
Franchise mode in Madden and MLB The Show, and MyGM in NBA helps Atlanta fans make this feeling, but the fact that this scenario is the only way that they can achieve this feeling is sad. They can only hope that this curse will somehow reserve itself soon.