Just do Something!
Okay, quick…name the worst team in the NBA. You do follow the NBA don’t you? Come on, it’s not difficult. Think about it…just a little bit.
The L.A. Clippers, no, they were bad in the 80’s and early 90’s. How about the New York Knicks? They were coached by the idiot Isaiah Thomas…surely they suck. We’ll yes, they do, but they haven’t always sucked.
Okay then, who are we talking about? We are talking about what may very well be the worst run franchise in not only the history of the NBA, but in fact all of Professional Sports. We are talking about the Atlanta Hawks.
No, actually you can make a pretty convincing case for the ineptitude of everything Hawks. I say this as someone who has had to periodically cover them over the past few seasons. They don’t get a lot of coverage, though we generally like the players and coach and the PR staff is a good group of people.
Believe it or not, they weren’t too bad in the 80’s and early 90’s. They featured the “Human Highlight Film” Dominique Wilkins and a nice cast of roleplayers back then. They made the playoffs fairly frequently; in fact, the Hawks/Celtics Conference Championship series of 1988 may be one of the best playoff series in the history of the NBA.
Well, the bottom fell out for a few reasons. Sometime in the late 90’s, the then General Manager and owners of the team decided they needed to blow up the roster and start over. Why they made that decision nobody knows, but that began a series of almost laughable and certainly pathetic moves.
In or around the year 2000, the Hawks acquired the notorious J.R. (Isaiah/Pothead) Rider. Rider had a, well, let’s just say a not so “clean” reputation…but he could score. Also in there, they picked up the “Big Dog”…Glen Robinson. A great college scorer, who well, he shot a lot in the NBA.
From there, the bottom pretty much fell out. The Hawks fired the GM, Pete Babcock and hired a “Basketball Genius” Billy Knight (just ask him). From there, believe it or not…things got worse.
The Hawks Ownership group (Atlanta Spirit) put all of their faith in the ability of the Basketball “Genius” to rebuild a once proud franchise. His idea to make things better – start drafting forwards. Not just any forwards but a group of 6-7 to 6-9 guys who can “play” multiple positions.
Well, so far, 3 years into that plan…well, it ain’t working. 2004 saw the Hawks register one of the worst records in NBA history…a robust 13-69. 2005 wasn’t much better 26-56…though Knight was quick to point out “We doubled our win total from the year before”. This year has brought a wonderful 13-25 record through Monday January 22.
The “All Forward” experiment…so far, the evidence isn’t too positive. You’ve got a team now with no point guard and no real center but a lot of forwards on it. The Hawks believe it or not, had a chance to draft Chris Paul, the all-everything point guard for the Hornets…but they passed and took 6-9 Marvin Williams. Boy that’s worked out well.
Can It Be Fixed?
The first step to fixing something is admitting that there is a problem. The Hawks ownership, for a variety of reasons has not admitted that there is a problem of any kind. Granted they are restricted in what they can do because of their own internal ownership legal battle, but that hasn’t stopped their other team…the NHL Thrashers from being pretty successful.
They can fix the problem, but the first step is going to be to get rid of the GM/Genius who has brought them to the running punch line that they now have become. I actually feel bad for the coach, Mike Woodson…Woody is a career NBA guy who has gotten his first chance to run his own team. He’s a really good guy, a good teacher who can show people what to do and where to be, but who is playing every night basically with one hand tied behind his back.The only seriously good players on the roster right now are Joe Johnson, Josh Smith and Josh Childress. Out of those 3 only Johnson is a serious threat to do damage on a given night. On any other team, he’d be a “HUGE” star, in Atlanta he’s a guy forced to play 40 minutes a night with 3 guys draped all over him.
I really feel bad for these guys because they really are good people. But, because they have been so bad for so long…they get absolutely no love in the Atlanta area and won’t for a long time. Heck a couple weeks ago, they were out-drawn by a Georgia Tech/Duke game that was being played at the same time the Hawks were playing.
Will these guys ever get it together? I don’t think so. Not until the people that run this team realize they’ve got to do something. If they don’t they’ll be playing in front of a lot of empty chairs.