Posted: Monday April 18, 2005 11:05AM; Updated: Monday April 18, 2005 12:50PM
Josh Childress is one reason why Atlanta's headed in the right direction.
Kent Smith/Getty Images
Last night I was sitting in press row along the baseline at Madison Square Garden, watching two non-playoff teams, the Hawks and Knicks, play a surprisingly lively late-season NBA game.
With a few minutes left, a loose ball was knocked toward the out-of-bounds line by underwhelming Knicks forward Tim Thomas. Hawks rookie Josh Childress looked as though he was going to try to grab the ball before it went out, though the prudent play for JC would have been to let the ball go, since a Knick last touched it.
Before I knew it, I screamed, "Let it go!" at Childress. I don't know if he heard me or not, but he did let the ball go. The Hawks took possession and went on to win 139-135 in overtime.
As a member of the media, I try my best to be impartial, but when I'm around the Hawks, strange things happen. Tips blurt out, fists pump the air. Luckily, hardly anyone was on press row last night to turn me in.
The Hawks, for better or worse, are in me. In July, I wrote one of my first SI.com columns about the Hawks and mentioned how this might be our year. Turns out it wasn't.
Aside from the contenders (Miami, Detroit, Phoenix, San Antonio), there is little hope for NBA fans. If you live in Toronto, are the Raptors going to vie for a title any time soon? What about the Knicks? The Clippers? The Hornets?
The Hawks, though, are set to become one of the NBA's best teams. Here are 10 reasons to immediately become a Hawks fan.
10.Josh Smith. Not to say I told you so, but ... well, look here. Even scarier than his off-the-charts athleticism is how The ATLien is starting to knock down jumpers, which will open the court for him even more. Also, if you watch Hawks games, you're guaranteed at least one highlight play per night. Don't forget -- he's just 19.
9. Atlanta Spirit. The Hawks are owned not by a consortium, not a person or a family. And anything involving a mysterious consortium is guaranteed to be entertaining.
8.Sekou Smith. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has one of the best beat writers in the NBA. Now if only the paper realized this and actually ran Hawks stories.
7.Billy Knight. Yesterday's New York Times selected the Hawks GM as the worst executive in the NBA, not only of this season but the last two. Knight's an interesting guy. He's intense and stares you in the eyes, using every inch of his size -- he's 6-6; 6-9 with the 'fro -- to remind you that he's bigger than you are and he knows it. He did such a nice job in Memphis getting the Grizz in position to be a playoff team that Jerry West wanted his job. Anyway, he's not the worst GM in the NBA, at least not as long as Isiah Thomas, Elgin Baylor, Jim Paxson, Mitch Kupchak and Rob Babcock have gigs.
6. Fan Appreciation Night. This year the Hawks brought in Hammer for a free post-game concert. Good thing there's no popular recording artists based in Atlanta -- OutKast, Usher, Goodie Mob, Jermaine Dupri, Ciara, T.I., Bow Wow, TLC and even Elton John immediately come to mind. Still, Hammer had Philips Arena rocking. The Nets, meanwhile, paid everyone's toll on Jersey Turnpike exit 16-W for an hour. Which would you prefer?
5. None of the players use the alias "Ron Mexico."