For the first part of this summer, everywhere Marvin went he got different variations of the same question.
What the heck happened to the Hawks in that series against the Magic?
“Early in the summer [he heard it] but, after a while, people started to get ready for football season, thankfully,” Marvin said today after informal workouts at Philips. “But, God, the first month, month-and-a-half, it was: ‘Yo, what happened?’ Dude, you were watching the games. You tell me what happened?”
The Magic beat down the Hawks in historical fashion, everybody saw it, and Hawks players know their reps took a major hit. After finishing third in the East and openly talking about a championship run, the Hawks folded in the face of adversity and eventually earned the wrath of their own fans.
True competitors with any sense of pride are not going to go out like that. Each time I’ve talked to L.D. he’s made it a point to say he believes the way last season ended will have a bearing on how players approach this season.
“We pretty much got embarrassed in the second round,” J.J. said the other day. “I am sure it won’t happen again.”
There are Hawks with lots to prove individually this season. Can Marvin be consistent? Can J.J. share the ball, deliver a strong postseason and live up to his contract? Will Smoove continue to mature? Can Teague take over the point? Can L.D. bring it all together?
But after what happened against the Magic, the Hawks have a lot to prove as a group, too. Critics, some of them internal, accused the Hawks of quitting. The lasting memory for the Hawks in 2009-10 wasn’t 53 Ws, 34-7 at home or No. 3 in the East, but how those significant accomplishments nearly faded into irrelevance after they meekly succumbed to the Magic.
“Honestly, me personally, it definitely doesn’t sit well with me,” J.J. said. “Coming into the season, I still think about that. I’m going to do whatever it takes to get over that hump. It did leave a bad taste in my mouth. I think it’s something we can bounce back from. We just have to be confident.”
With no major personnel additions this summer the Hawks are largely counting on improvement from the same group. There is plenty of external skepticism about whether that will be enough to put them over the top, and surely a lot of that is due to how last season ended.
“To lose the way you lose, it kind of sits in my stomach,” Marvin said. “To come out and play the way we played against Orlando—we lost by 20, 25 a night! We are better than that, man. I think the world knows we are better than that.
“Take nothing from Orlando, they are a great team. But the Atlanta Hawks are better than [losing by] 20 or 25 a night. That just kind of sits in your stomach all summer. I think guys look back at those last two [losing] playoff series, and we want to get better. So we’ve got to try to build. ”
– I don’t think the Hawks are hot to add a fifth center (and a 15th guaranteed contract) after re-signing Twin and getting Etan Thomas. So while the Hawks have talked to Erick Dampier’s rep it doesn’t look like he’s going to end up in Atlanta.
– Word is Jamal Crawford opted not to come to town early for his pre-camp physicals. All indications are that Crawford will report Monday as required. It will be interesting to see what he has to say about his contract situation on media day.
– I’m told Jordan Crawford has stood out during the informal runs at Philips. I caught the tail end of today’s session, where JC2 showed why he’s considered a natural scorer. Guys like that flourish in games like that. He’s not shy about pulling up for long jumpers, though I’m sure that instinct will be tempered once things get serious.
– In addition to Marvin and JC2, Bibby, Teague and Josh Powell also were at today’s run. So were free agent vets Stackhouse and Anthony Johnson.
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