ATLANTA (AP)—The Hawks’ real-life mascot got a little flying time during the playoffs.
“Spirit,” an actual hawk that flies down from the rafters during the pre-game introductions, decided to hang around for the start of Game 2 against the Miami Heat on Wednesday night.
The bird was perched atop the scoreboard at tipoff, refusing to go to his handler. Then he swooped around the arena while the game was going on, landing on a railing in the lower deck before he settled on the top of the basket at the Hawks end of the court.
When the players spotted the bird, they refused to go on. The game was halted with 8:28 remaining in the first quarter until the handler finally arrived, luring Spirit to his arm and carrying him out of the arena to cheers from the crowd—and several players.