On Thursday night, Kyle Korver suited up for the Atlanta Hawks one last time. Coach Bud pulled him over before the game, and in what Korver said was an emotional conversation, Budenholzer informed the fifth-year Hawk that he had been traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Coach Bud announced it to the rest of the team after the game against the Pelicans, which ended up being Atlanta’s fifth straight win, but throughout the contest, Kyle remained his normal self despite knowing he was gone. He cheered after every basket. He chatted with his teammates. The one thing he didn’t do was enter the game, making his 17 minutes against the Magic on Wednesday the last of his time with the team he left it all on the floor for.
From the moment he was traded to Atlanta from the Chicago Bulls in 2012, the sharpshooter immediately became a fan favorite. When Mike Budenholzer took over a year later, Korver proved to be a seamless fit. Night in and night out, opponents were forced to stay glued onto him, and when they didn’t, he made them pay. Consistently one of the best three-point shooters on the planet, it was a commonality for all of Philips Arena to raise their arms and hold their breaths every time Korver caught a pass. In most cases, that scenario ended with a “Kyle Korver for THREEEEEEEEEE” being bellowed through the arena as fans sprang out of their seats. Even at home, viewers could hear the sheer excitement in long-time Hawks commentator Bob Rathbun’s voice every time Korver guided the ball seamlessly through the net.
Some of the Hawks’ greatest memories over the past few years have been when Kyle Korver got his hands on the rock. His 127 games in a row of making a three pointer, which was a league record at the time. His breakaway dunk that had Hawks fans going crazy on social media. His Eastern Conference Player of the Month award, an honor which he shared with the other starters after they went the entire month of January without losing a game. His deep three off a Schröder steal, en route to a sold-out home victory against the red-hot number one Golden State Warriors. His first All-Star game appearance in 2015, joining the court with three other Atlanta Hawks. His explosion for 11 points in one minute against the Bucks, while sporting a mask protecting his broken nose. The list goes on and on.
However, what the team will miss the most isn’t Kyle Korver as a player, but rather as the charismatic person that he was in the locker room and community. He was always one of the most supportive members of the team, and was beloved by Atlanta media for his cheerful and engaging interviews. His deep connection to Atlanta is another reason why it’s so hard to see him go. All three of his children were born here, including Koen, the newest member of the Korver family, last November. He has also hosted countless charity events around the city, from his dodgeball tournament to his annual sock drive, he benefitted the community in such a genuine way. His efforts even earned him the 2014-15 NBA Joe Dumars Sportsmanship Award for his stellar off-the-court work.
Paul Millsap, Dennis Schröder, and Kent Bazemore were among the many Hawks to express their affection and well-wishes to Korver after the game on Thursday. Bazemore told AJC’s Chris Vivlamore that “Kyle is one of the most amazing people you’ll ever meet, the most amazing teammate you’ll ever meet”, while Millsap added that Korver “means so much to this team, to this organization, so much to our community. To see him go, it will be felt”.
Although he will surely be missed by Atlanta, the Cavaliers will provide him with an incredible chance at his first ring, and if there’s any veteran who deserves one, it’s him.
To Kyle Korver,
Thank you for pouring out more than four years of hustle and heart to the city of Atlanta. We wish you all the best in Cleveland.
Here’s one last look at his best moments with Atlanta: