HAWKSVILLE – Answer the question.
Are you ready?
Are you ready for more of the craziness that is the NBA season and the Hawks’ role in it?
Are you ready for the season you love to hate, the team you love to hate and the game you just love to love?
Of course, you are.
You’ve been waiting what seems like forever, just like me and everyone else around here.
You couldn’t wait until the Hawks’ opener against the Pacers tonight at Philips Arena, could you?
We understand. Cleveland and Boston was a fine way to open the season, what with Rasheed Wallace posing a most frightening sight out there stroking shots from deep with the for flowing and sporting that classic Celtics uniform (and yes, that was Shelden Williams logging quality minutes for the Celtics early on, so maybe we were all wrong about the man some of you affectionately refer to as Mr. Parker?).
Not much else has changed for the last two teams to dispatch the Hawks in the playoffs. Kevin Garnett is still a monster. Same goes for Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, when the Celtics knock the dust off those old legs and get up and down the floor. The supporting cast looks rejuvenated and hungry.
LeBron James is already in MVP form. But the Cavaliers remain the flawed team we witnessed in that conference finals series against Orlando last year. They can bust out of the gate and build a double digit lead faster than any other team in the league. But they’re almost guaranteed to lose it just as fast when they’re dealing with another one of the league’s elite (and this is my formal challenge to Shaq and Zydrunas Ilgauskas to a foot race. Give me a month and I’m doing my Usain Bolt on those cats).
Seriously, the stuff we saw from Orlando in that preseason game last Friday reminds me of the same things we’ll see from the Magic and Celtics all season. They have the kind of talent across the frontline that will give everyone else in the East, the Hawks included, fits on most every night. They’re just too good, too deep and too versatile for most teams to handle when all things are equal.
Before the Hawks can worry about any of those teams they have to deal with the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center Sunday (at least they weren’t invited for Tuesday’s ring and banner raising ceremony). And that’s after they tussle with the Pacers and Washington Wizards (Friday at Philips) first.
Are the Hawks ready?
Are they ready for the season that seems like it never ends; the roller coaster that always seems to be their season?
We’ll get our first real glimpse soon enough.
Jamal Crawford political activist has a different ring to it.
It may be a bit of a stretch for the Hawks’ guard with the rapid-fire handle and endless bag of offensive tricks.
But Crawford showed off a different side earlier this week when he helped host celebrity fundraiser for Atlanta mayoral candidate Kasim Reed. Crawford joined Grammy award winning artist, actor and philanthropist Ludacris, music mogul and philanthropist Chaka Zulu and several others in throwing their public support behind Reed.
“Hey man, I’m all over, man,” a smiling Crawford joked when asked about his political activity. “A lot of people in his position talk the talk and promise a lot of stuff. I just like that he’s doing it. He cares about people. And I know how important some of the stuff he’s talking about doing is for the kids in this city, especially the recreational activities for young people. That’s where I lived when I was growing up. Things like late night [basketball] programs, that’s what kept me out of trouble when I was growing up. I was always in the gym. He wants to take it a step further with technology and education along with the sports programs and I think that could literally save a lot of kids’ lives.”
We’ve always stayed away from politics in this space and I’d suggest we continue that practice (Blog-Z does not endorse any of the candidates since he can’t vote in that election anyway and plans on running in the next Smyrna mayoral election). But I have to admit to being pleasantly surprised that a player is plugged into the local political scene, particularly one that has only been in town for a few months.
“The thing about it is, you can’t please everybody,” Crawford said. “You just have to do what you think is right. And I think he’s the best candidate.”
Count Hawks coach Mike Woodson among the growing legion of fans of veteran power forward Joe Smith’s lyrical alter ego, Joe Beast.
Woodson got his first listen to Smith’s Hawks’ anthem (”Victory”) after Tuesday’s practice and offered to sign Smith to his record label, which we all know doesn’t exist.
“Did you really make this?” Woodson, doing the worst impersonation of a hip-hop impresario ever witnessed, asked Smith. “That’s unbelievable that you could come up with that stuff. Unbelievable.”
Smith said he planned on doing something along the lines of the playoff anthem he did for Cleveland last season anyway, but he sped up his process at the behest of an unlikely source.
“That intro music would come on at the start of our preseason games and Jeff Teague would look at me every time we played and say, ‘come on Joe, what you gonna do?’” Smith said. “So you know I had to go into my lab and come up with something.”
Smith has been dabbling in music for more than a decade, since the early days of his career. It’s only recently, he said, that the finished product has caught up with his ambitions.
“When I first started I really wasn’t that confident in what I was doing,” he said. “But lately, I’ve been getting better and better and more and more confident in what I’m doing. I’m getting close to being ready to putting something out there. I’ve got my own equipment. And the technology is so good now that I’m able to tote some of it on the road with me and I write [lyrics] on the plane on road trips and other times when I have a little solitude and time to myself.”
Woodson was genuinely impressed.
“He’s got a talent that not everybody has,” Woodson said. “He’s worked at it, too. That’s not amateurish stuff right there. That’s impressive stuff.”
If you’re at Philips 90 minutes before the tip of the Pacers game, you might want to listen for the song. It’s full of interesting stuff about Smith and his teammates, including a shout out to Teague.
“I’ll take that,” Teague said before breaking into a dance move in front of his locker as Smith recited lyrics. “I’ll take that”