The Atlanta Hawks joined forces with the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday, Oct. 10, bringing together players and fans in the league’s first ever “Unity Game.” The Hawks came out on top with a 99-93 preseason victory over the starter-less Cavs.
The Atlanta Hawks teamed up with the Cleveland Cavaliers in Monday night’s “Unity Game” with the purpose of demonstrating the unifying bond that is created through the game of basketball. A touchy subject currently in today’s society, the Hawks and Cavs took this opportunity to urge the public to put aside their differences and unite as one, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, and other dividing factors. The Hawks also donated $10,000 to the Center for Human Rights.
Unity Encouraged Throughout Game
Before the game began, players from both teams were introduced together by position and were celebrated together instead of as rivals. The Cavs, however, chose not to play any of their starters in the Unity Game, including LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson, Iman Shumpert, and Channing Frye. Many fans were disappointed that they would not see the defending NBA Champions in action in Atlanta. Nonetheless, even with the absence of their starters, the Cavs still managed to make a game of it.
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Before both teams took to the court, they took a different approach to the national anthem. In recent months, athletes across the country (initially led by the example of San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick) have been standing or kneeling in silent protest against police brutality in African-American communities. Instead of taking a knee, the teams asked everyone inside the area, including the fans, to link arms and stand united with them.
During timeouts, the video board showed pre-recorded clips of players from both teams giving their definition of unity and what it means to them. Atlanta Hawks center Dwight Howard offered his advice, urging everyone to “put aside our petty differences.” Additionally, there were unity themed activities throughout the game, including the “Unity Uniform Race,” and music encouraging togetherness resonated throughout the area, with songs like Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family.” Even Harry Hawk and Cavs mascot Sir C.C. could be found roaming the arena together in harmony.
Atlanta Hawks: Game Takeaways
Dwight Howard shined in his first game in Atlanta. The game got off to a great start for the Atlanta Hawks. Dwight Howard opened the game with a 15-foot back shot, followed by a 16-2 run for the Hawks with Howard scoring 10 of his points in the first quarter. He led the game for Atlanta, finishing with 26 points on 11 of 15 shooting, two assists and eight rebounds.
Prince and Bembry made a big impact. The Hawks’ first round draft picks Taurean Prince and DeAndre’ Bembry both demonstrated their skill on Monday night. They both played 16 minutes, but managed to have a great impact on the game, especially in the fourth quarter as the Cavs trailed closely behind. Prince had 10 points on 4 of 7 shooting and Bembry had seven points on 3 of 5 shooting. Though these two probably won’t see much playing time early on in the regular season, they are already making a statement.
Three-point shooting struggles continue. The Atlanta Hawks continue to shoot poorly from 3-point range this preseason. In the three games they’ve played so far, they are a combined 15 of 58 (.259). In this game, the Hawks missed their first 13 long-range shots. Kyle Korver didn’t even contribute to the game’s first three until late in the third quarter. Overall, the Hawks were 2 of 19 from 3-point range.
Next up, the Atlanta Hawks will take on the Detroit Pistons this Thursday at 7:30 PM ET at Philips Arena.