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You might as well be living under a rock if you haven’t heard the name Mike Muscala. He’s the Atlanta Hawks’ 6-foot, 11-inch forward/center who helped send the team to one of its best seasons ever. After a hot streak, the team just missed the chance at the NBA Championship with a heartbreaking Eastern Conference finals loss to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Muscala, who lives in Buckhead, began playing basketball when he was just 5 years old in St. Paul, Minnesota, where he grew up. “I definitely liked it a lot when I was younger,” he says. “And I was much taller [than other children] when I was in grade school, so my height helped a lot, too.” He continued to play the game throughout high school, and knew he wanted to attend a college where he could get a good education—and participate in an established basketball program.

Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, provided him with all of those things. And he excelled. By the time he graduated in 2013, he was named the 2013 Patriot League Player of the Year, the 2013 Defensive Player of the Year and First-Team All Conference. He also was Bucknell’s all-time leading scorer.

“I’m extremely proud of what I accomplished during my four years there,” Muscala says. “We lost in the first round of the playoffs my senior year, so I wish it would have ended better.” But his basketball career didn’t end at all. He was drafted right out of college by the Dallas Mavericks, and was immediately traded to Atlanta.

The 23-year-old just finished his second year with the Hawks, and says his goal right now is to stay with Atlanta. “I love the city and love coming to work every day,” he says. “I work with a great group of guys and a great coaching staff.”

And his fans are grateful. Affectionately called Moose—a nickname his father gave him as a young boy that has followed him all the way to Atlanta—Muscala says the fan base in Atlanta couldn’t be better. “The fan support has been really good the last two years,” he says. “I wouldn’t want to play anywhere else.”

STORY: Sarah Gleim
PHOTOS: Sara Hanna

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