Last week Hoopla took an interesting stroll through the Mercury's archives to track the club's trials and tribulations through various ownership models.
It was an interesting read, tracking the shift between the stable, championship-winning John Carson era before the club was placed in the hands of various shareholder groups.
CEO's and GM's dropped like flies, shareholders came and went but ultimately some very good and dedicated people brought the club back from the brink of extinction twice in as many years.
That battle remains in the club's DNA. It's identity rests in that fight, but it also carries baggage. It's why there's quite naturally a sense or foreboding around the club's current ownership situation.
It takes some convincing to try and explain why, but it doesn't necessarily present the same doomsday scenario it once did. Why? It comes down to where the NBL is currently at.
Regular readers of Hoopla would be well aware that your columnist has hardly been the NBL's biggest cheerleader of late, but it's not because the league isn't soaring. It is. Demonstrably.
It's important for Hawks fans because, having taken a look back over their club's past struggles, it's clear they have always run parallel to the NBL's own.
The late 80's and early-to-mid 90's are typically termed part of the league's golden age. Following that the league was its very own basket case.
Waning attention and corporate coin saw clubs come and go - Souths Dragons, Canberra Cannons, Hunter Pirates, Victoria Giants, Gold Coast Blaze the Singapore Slingers among others.
Even current franchises Brisbane and Sydney fell off the map before coming back. The Kings are now its marquee franchise, but it spent time in wilderness.
It was a league on its knees. It's what the whole 'NewNBL' move was all about, with the league implementing a stringent set of measures for entry in it's 2009-10 season.
Demanding club's have $500,000 in working capital and a $1 million bank guarantee was a significant leap from how most clubs were presently operating.
It was denied at the time, but talk to anyone involved in the Hawks fight and they'll tell you it was a measure aimed at cutting out a club like Illawarra - a regional franchise on the outskirts of, but not quite part of Sydney.
You can just imagine the brass kicking doors when Mat Campbell faxed through confirmation that Arun Jagatramka had inked that guarantee with barely an hour to spare.
It was a similar story at the time James Spenceley purchased a controlling share in the Hawks - with current owner Simon Stratford a minority partner.
They took it out of the 'community' hands it was only ever supposed to have been temporarily. People went in with open minds, the Carson era hadn't left too many with negative views of private ownership.
The Hawks went into voluntary administration just a year into Spenceley's ownership, but it appeared more of a measure to flush out sponsorship than actually cheating death as he club had in the past.
What people seem to forget is that at the time the NBL was again going through its own struggles.
There was a split with Basketball Australia and the national league did not even have a television deal. Your columnist still recalls watching long-time Mercury basketball scribe Tim Keeble covering Hawks away games via the FIBA online play-by-play.
It was enough for our greatest player Andrew Gaze to call for the league to be shut down on Melbourne radio "shut it down, re-group, get the right model, because the model is broken," he said at the time.
This is little more than five years ago. It barely resembles the current NBL that has been positively flying since Larry Kestelman purchased the league for a reported $7 million ahead of the 2015-16 season.
The Hawks famous brush with death in 2009 came just as the NBL was trying to fend off its own demise. Hawks veteran Tim Coenraad, who played his first NBL season in 2009-10 recalled as much to this column ahead of his 300th game on New Years' Eve.
"When I first came in the NBL was pretty much at rock bottom, it was at the lowest it'd been in a long, long time," Coenraad said.
"I've been able to see it grow from that league that almost didn't happen into what it is now, having NBA involvement and having teams thriving financially.
"It's bringing in big crowds, bringing big players in and bringing big Australian names back from the NBA. It's a testament to what the [NBL] ownership has done.
"Those guys at the NBL have really taken this thing out of the basement and now it's in the penthouse. Being able to see that transition from being just another league into quite arguably the the second best league in the world has been great."
It's a vastly different climate to that when the Hawks have previously battled through management issues. For one, the NBL has choices where it previously didn't and it's not in its interest to lose its only foundation club.
Secondly, this time there actually are interested owners. The NBL is grabbing more eyes in the US and we've seen the likes of Shawn Marion (New Zealand) and Kevin Martin (Brisbane) buy in. It's reasonable to assume the NBL that was the lure more than the specific franchises.
That model may not suit the Hawks specifically, but the strength of the league makes all its franchises more attractive to potential owners. Good ones with a vision beyond mere survival.
In the past the Wollongong faithful simply had to accept dysfunctional ownership as the price of surviving. That's not the case anymore and, frankly, the fans deserve much better than what they've had since giving the keys away.
It is time for change and it is afoot. The Illawarra Hawks is a franchise to be treasured. Let's see it receive its due.