The Atlanta Hawks were able to pull out a Game 4 victory on Sunday to tie their NBA playoff series against the Chicago Bulls at two games apiece, which is good and all, but the most exciting news for Hawks fans might be when the Chicago Bulls players compared the atmosphere at Philips Arena to New York City's famed Rucker Park streetball court.
"Yeah, especially playing here in Atlanta,'' Bulls forward Taj Gibson told the Chicago Sun-Times. "The crowd really gets into it. They love one-on-one play. They look forward to seeing a player get embarrassed so they can just cheer like crazy. It's just like back home in New York. You go play at Rucker Park, the crowd is all into it. There are a lot of one-on-ones, and this [Hawks] team plays exactly the same way. They do a lot of one-on-one stuff and know how to expose guys."
Okay, so maybe Hawks fans shouldn't be that proud of their team playing a lot of isolation basketball in lieu of better team basketball like they played Sunday, but they should be proud that Bulls players are taking note of the crowd as many media pundits seem to believe that the audience is made up of more Chicago transplants than true Atlanta diehards.
"Every city has its own way of expressing itself, expressing how they like their basketball,'' Gibson said. "This place [Atlanta] becomes a hostile environment, especially when they get a dunk or a nice crossover layup. It's bananas in here. Players feed off of that, and they have a lot of high flyers on this team. Their team is a solid team when you look at it. They have a lot of high flyers, guys that can make a spectacular play off the dribble and using their ballhandling skills, and the crowd feeds off it and gives it back to them."
While Gibson seems in awe of the Atlanta crowds, frontcourt mate Joakim Noah heartily disagrees.
"Man, Taj never played in Rucker," Noah said. "No similarities at all [between Atlanta and the playgrounds]. What's he talking about? 'Cause there's black people in the stands?''
Of course, Noah's never a fan of giving opposing cities any sort of credit so fans should probably just keep being loud and proud (except when Josh Smith shoots from deep, obviously) when the series comes back to Atlanta for Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals series.
(H/T goes to Trey Kerby of the The Basketball Jones)