Hawks CEO Steve Koonin finds wacky ways to fill arena for his first-place team

FILE - In this April 14, 2014, file photo, Steve Koonin, speaks after being introduced as the new CEO for the Atlanta Hawks NBA basketball team at a press conference in Atlanta. A scheduled meeting between Koonin and Atlanta civil rights leaders has been cancelled, leading one of the leaders to say his community was greatly offended. The Rev. Markel Hutchins announced Wednesday's, Sept. 10, 2014, meeting was called off "at the last minute." He later said he received a call from Hawks spokesman Garin Narain on Tuesday night asking that it be postponed. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)

In possession of first place, the surprisingly surging Hawks can start thinking about things like homecourt advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs, and ownership is taking some creative steps in hopes of filling Philips Arena with Atlantans for the foreseeable future.

On a night when his team capped a perfect three-game West Coast trip with a 107-98 victory against the Los Angeles Clippers — winning their fifth straight contest, 11th in their last 12 and 20th in their last 23 — Hawks CEO Steve Koonin tweeted a rather amusing permission slip for fans who stayed up late watching the win to offer their bosses as an excuse for tardiness in the morning.

Dear Boss,

From one boss to another, please excuse ___________ for being late to work Tuesday morning.

___________ is a huge Hawks fan and just couldn’t bear to miss watching Monday night’s game against the Clippers on SportSouth, which tipped at 10:38EST.

As a token of our appreciation for your kindness, we’d like to invite you, the boss, to the Hawks-Grizzlies game on Wednesday night. We expect ___________ will buy a ticket, but if the two of you show this letter at the box office, your ticket will be taken care of.

Thanks for your support,

Steve Koonin

Well done, Steve, aside from that handwriting.

Of course, the Hawks can afford to offer free tickets, since they've consistently ranked among the league's least attended teams despite making seven straight trips to the playoffs. The team's blunders this past summer didn't help matters. Hawks GM Danny Ferry made racially charged remarks about potential free agent target Luol Deng, and owner Bruce Levenson revealed an equally insensitive email he wrote about — among other things — the lack of affluent 40-year-old white men in the stands.

A cynic might suggest Koonin is attempting to lure businessmen with deep pockets into the arena with his Twitter stunt, during a time when the team is being offered up for sale to propective bidders, but the Hawks are trying all sorts of promotions to attract a wide-ranging audience for their first-place team.

On the same night Koonin offered free tickets to bosses, the Hawks are teaming with Tinder — a superficial app with which users swipe through photos of other users in order to make ... um ... "connections" — marketing Friday's game against the Southwest Division-leading Grizzlies as "Swipe Right Night."

"Hawks games have always been a great place to meet fun and vibrant people and we think ‘Swipe Right Night’ will take that to a whole new level,” Koonin said in a statement. "We were pioneers of the in-game ‘Kiss Cam’ and are hopeful that we can assist in making some more love connections at our games."

All of this should make for some fantastic water cooler talk at the office on Monday morning.

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Ben Rohrbach

is a contributor for Ball Don't Lie and Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!