Amid the backlash, the greatest Hawk of them all was the most pragmatic.
Glen Saville, Olympian and 2001 title-winning MVP asked: If you're dropping the Illawarra name, what's the trade-off?
What does this region, which carries the torch of Australian basketball history as the last remaining foundation club, get in return?
We already know the answer is nothing.
The closure of the AIS Arena in Canberra, as revealed by sports editor of fellow Australian Community Media publication Canberra Times Chris Dutton this week, effectively slammed the door shut in the NBL's face.
A door they intended to march through to 'broaden the Hawks footprint', as NBL owner Larry Kestelman said when announcing the Illawarra name would be dumped, after years of financial turmoil.
Of course, the new owners have made a huge impact already, signing the legendary six-time championship-winning coach Brian Goorjian, as well as his long-time assistant Jacob Jackomas.
Goorjian will ensure the level of playing talent needed to be an NBL contender will come to Wollongong, as will the US connections of ex-Philadelphia general manager Bryan Colangelo and American businessman and 'basketball influencer' Michael Proctor.
But they could have done all that and kept the Illawarra name.
With Canberra out of the picture and Newcastle's new stadium a couple of years away, the club formerly known as Illawarra will almost certainly play all their home games at WIN Entertainment Centre next season.
Games may yet be taken interstate, if the NBL can find business interests or government backing to pay for it, or if the league digs into its own pocket.
But then, doing that is far removed from the supposed regional NSW behemoth the Hawks were meant to be when dropping the name.
The Kings own the rights to playing games in Sydney, as part of their NBL licence contract.
So what happens next?
The NBL just chooses to ignore the legitimate claims to re-instate the Illawarra name and the basketball media has little appetite to bite the hand that feeds them, by applying any scrutiny.
Now the face of the new Hawks ownership, Dorry Kordahi, has to lower his eyes and take the club's virtues to an Illawarra corporate market still reeling from the Covid-19 impact on the economy, while also carrying the baggage which comes with dumping the name.
He has time - the season will start in December, if at all given the situation with Covid-19 in Victoria - and will no doubt have a marquee player or two to lure the necessary dollars.
Boomers and Melbourne United sharpshooter Chris Goulding may well be on the radar yet.
But remember, unlike the previous times the Hawks have suffered to the point of collapse and voluntary administration, this was not the only viable bid.
Illawarra businessman Tory Lavalle, in partnership with LaMelo Ball through manager Jermaine Jackson were a 'done deal' at one point, but they wanted to keep the name.
So the new group deserve the opportunity to make the nameless Hawks sing, but imagine how many more doors would be open with the feel-good sentiment of building Illawarra as a powerhouse from scratch.
As the NBL abandons the region's identity and the Dragons desperately try to rescue their NRL season, the Illawarra is preparing for a two-week fling with AFL club the Gold Coast Suns.
At a socially appropriate distance, of course, as part of the quarantine arrangement to play games in Sydney as part of an AFL hub.
It's still an extraordinary moment in South Coast history to have the club - second on the ladder at 3-1 this season - setting up camp in a region which has had just three players make their AFL debut previously, the most recent Swans livewire James Bell.
And what it shows, at a time when the Illawarra name has the least currency in elite sport at any time since the Hawks were established in 1979 and Steelers joined the NSWRL in 1982, is this region still has immense value.