IT'S ironic isn't it. Back when the NBL stripped its only foundation club of its Illawarra name, the justification was that 'The Hawks' needed to be "a team for all of NSW."
As season tip-off looms, the rebranded franchise can't even play a game in its home state. The state of affairs is no one's fault, it's a once in a lifetime pandemic we're living in, but it's ironic just the same.
Legendary coach Brian Goorjian and his squad are using the strange limbo period to their advantage - if anyone can it's the master coach. There's every reason to be excited about what the Hawks are going to put on the floor this season.
Unfortunately for Hawks fans, they're all watching it from afar. Despite the best efforts of all involved, it takes an edge off things. It felt that way when president and co-owner Dorry Kordahi spoke to the media at an empty WEC this week after the release of the schedule for first two rounds (for the record the 'Illawarra Hawks' logo was on the deck).
It was illustrative of the task he and the new ownership group face in appealing to Hawks fans without a team currently in town when much of the Illawarra faithful rightfully disillusioned with the stripping of their identity from the club's logo
Will that change before season tip-off? It's a question plenty have asked your columnist of late. The cards remain close to respective chests' but Game On has an inkling it could - though an inkling is all it is.
The NBL left the door open for it in setting a 4379 members target. Wollongong Mayor Gordon Bradbery said at the time that "sounds like commercial blackmail". It doesn't just sound like it Mr. Mayor.
It's all been said in regards to the decision; particularly in these pages. Hawks fans who've constantly rallied to keep their team afloat through four decades as battlers are once again being asked to "prove" why they "deserve" a team.
It's galling in the extreme but, taking the emotion out of it, there's also never been any coherent justification or rationale for the decision. What was it possibly meant to achieve? Do you really think there are fans out there across the state who can't cop the 'Illawarra Hawks' but are falling over themselves to support 'The Hawks'?
And talk about handing the new ownership group a poo sandwich. In these crazy times, it's now in the unenviable position of appealing to Hawks fans to get on board on the membership front without a definite number of games to sell. They won't be playing in Wollongong until the end of March at the earliest.
It's a test of faith, but Hawks fans have always passed that test when it counted. Kordahi and his group are hoping they'll do so again. As far as their end of the bargain, they've secured the greatest coach of all time and put together the most exciting roster in recent memory. The NBL could certainly throw them a bone and reverse the absurd decision to strip the name.
As the forced conditions of a COVID affected season have illustrated - a team too long adrift inevitably ends up all at sea.
In a world gripped by the pandemic, there are no perfect decisions, but the league has been nimble in the big calls made to keep the delayed start to the season on track. It's very difficult to find fault with its handling of the past month.
Wollongong was still a 'green zone' in the immediate aftermath to the Northern Beaches outbreak. The NBL, Hawks and Kings made the preemptive move to Albury. Had they not, there's every chance the season wouldn't be tipping off next week.
It was the right call in hindsight, and that's the thing about hindsight. It's most often used as a hammer, but there's a lot to be said for it if you really listen.
Flawed as they were, the NBL had its reasons for stripping Illawarra from the Hawks emblem. It was an awful call at the time, even worse in retrospect, but it can easily be righted.
Amid all the difficult decisions that have been made in the past month, and the others still come, this one's simple. Hindsight really can be a wonderful thing.