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400 Cheering Fans Welcome Hawks at Airport After Upset Win in Boston

Associated Press

The Atlanta Hawks, who two weeks ago couldn’t sell out a National Basketball Assn. playoff game, were welcomed home Thursday morning by cheering, singing fans after their surprising 112-104 victory over the Boston Celtics Wednesday night at the Boston Garden.

The Hawks hold a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series and are one victory away from reaching the Eastern Conference finals.

A crowd of about 400, many carrying signs and banners and dressed in Hawk red, skipped work and school to greet the players as they arrived at Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport.

Fans sang the team’s “Atlanta Air Force” fight song, chanted profane slogans about the Celtics and even serenaded Delta Air Lines employees with an off-key rendition of the company jingle.

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In a jab at the green-clad Celtics, they sang, “It’s Not Easy Being Green,” made famous by Kermit the Frog of Jim Henson’s Muppets, and booed a passenger who was brave enough to wear a green Celtic cap as he stepped off the Boston-to-Atlanta flight.

The Hawks, after dropping the first two games in Boston, have beaten the Celtics three times in four days.

Tonight’s game at The Omni is a sellout, as were Games 3 and 4 in Atlanta. Game 7, if necessary, would be in Boston Sunday.

In the opening round of the playoffs, the Hawks failed to sell out any of their three home games against the Milwaukee Bucks, including the deciding game in that best-of-five series.

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