Atlanta Hawks: Joe Johnson: ‘No excuses’

LOS ANGELES–Wadup, blog people. Busy day finally over so checking in from the Left Coast, where it’s chilly and rainy just like when the Hawks were here in January. What the hell do I have to do to get blue skies and warm sunshine? Yeah, I’m bitter.

Anyway, no real news for your Hawks reps at the All-Star media session today. Well, Al said he and Amar’e are good after all of their back-and-forth, which he thinks really isn’t news.

“We cool, man,” he said, laughing at the question. “I told you he was just trying to make a big deal out of nothing. I didn’t have to say anything [to him]. He knew he was in the wrong, so he was cool.”

Some interesting stuff from Joe, though. When media types asked him about the Hawks, he kept coming back to the same theme: “No excuses.”

“I think all of the excuses are out the door,” he said. “We can’t hang our hat on we are a young team anymore. We can’t still say it’s a new coach. It’s just put up or shut up.”

Which brings me to something I’ve been thinking about lately. Perhaps some of you saw the quotes from Rick Sund in Hoopsworld a couple weeks back. If you didn’t, no big deal, because you’ve seen these quotes before (though that part about the Hawks being analogous to the Spurs was new–and regrettable).

Sund basically just rattled off the list of the team’s accomplishments. I get a similar list whenever I talk to Sund and certain other people in the organization. They talk about improving the record for five consecutive seasons. They talk about the 14 straight winning months. They talk about being a young team. They talk about doing all of these things while operating below the luxury tax threshold (which is, in my view, justifiable for the market, though the allocation of those funds is open to questioning).

As the beat guy, I have a responsibility to be accurate and fair in my coverage of the team. I strive to give an accurate representation of the Hawks–their strengths and weaknesses, their successes and failures–and place it in the context of what is a fair expectation for the team. I have to figure out what is a reasonable standard by which to judge them, and then do so honestly and dispassionately.

Sometimes formulating that standard can a tough thing, but here’s the thing when it comes to the Hawks: I don’t have to do it. The Hawks already did it for me when they let Woody walk.

After all, Woody was the coach when the Hawks improved their record for five consecutive seasons. He was the coach for 10 of the 14-month winning streak. He coached a young team to the East semis two years in a row. He did all of this with a team with a payroll below the luxury-tax line.

That’s not meant to give Woody a pass. The point is, Woody’s not the coach anymore and that’s tactic tacit acknowledgment from Hawks management that it believes all those accomplishments they like to recite weren’t enough. Shoot, forget tactic tacit: Michael Gearon Jr., Sund, the players,and L.D. all have said they expect more this year after the surrender to the Magic last spring.

Maybe the Hawks don’t get enough credit for their recent accomplishments, especially since this franchise doesn’t have many better times in its past. But, again, they weren’t enough for Hawks brass, and they’ve said so. That’s why I just don’t see how it’s helpful for management to continue to cite those achievements as a defense against calls for change or as some kind of proof that they belong among Sund’s elite.

So when I chronicle the Hawks’ season, I do so with the understanding that their ultimate goal is the East finals (while considering mitigating factors like injuries). If those standards are uncomfortably high for the Hawks, it’s because they made it that way when they parted ways with Woody and then said they think this team should do more.

Once they did that, it’s like J.J. said today: All of the excuses are out the door.

Check back in with you later in the weekend, blog people.

Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat

276 comments Add your comment


February 18th, 2011
11:14 pm

First Gotcha


February 18th, 2011
11:23 pm

Man I can’t believe I am first. You hit the nail on the head Mike. Why fire a coach with expectations to do better if you are just going to do worst. The entire season the backcourt has been getting destroyed by other teams. LD has not changed anything, but only continue to cover up the fact that his team doesn’t listen and management hasn’t stepped in to support him. I don’t know if there is more team support of Bibby or less team support for Teague, but I think there is something more than basketball reasons why Teague is not getting playing time.


February 18th, 2011
11:24 pm

Didn’t Joe say the same thing several weeks ago??


February 18th, 2011
11:24 pm

Please inform us MC of any trade rumors with the Hawks……do you think they make at least a small deal?


February 18th, 2011
11:25 pm

Sorry for all the run on sentences. I am really passionate about our Hawks team.

Najeh Davenpoop

February 18th, 2011
11:27 pm

“Tacit”, but good points. Even if they hadn’t implied that their accomplishments to this point weren’t good enough, they should presumably be aware enough to realize that defending themselves by rattling off their past accomplishments isn’t going to sway a fan base that isn’t showing up to games. The fans clearly feel that the team has peaked and isn’t going to be a serious contender. Talking about the past doesn’t help change that opinion.


February 18th, 2011
11:29 pm

Good writeup MC.

The irony is after every unexpected loss (or blowout), the Hawks are either full of excuses (players and coaches), or they dont take the losses seriously enough. Bibby and Jamal will shrug their shoulders and say it was just another loss, JJ will say he doesnt know what happened, I’m not sure what Josh says, while Al (and sometimes Mo) is the one to speak up.

And to be fair to Rick, what he wants is what AJ always says. Lose Better. I think he is fine with losing in the second round IF they lose 4-2. They just dont want to be swept by 101 points in the second round.

Worldwide Clyde

February 18th, 2011
11:34 pm


February 18th, 2011
11:34 pm

Michael, you idiot: get a dictionary, and stop using words you don’t know. The word you meant is ” tacit”, not tactic.


February 18th, 2011
11:43 pm

Harpie, get a grip. People misuse words sometimes, doesn’t make them idiots.

drmaryb (*_*)

February 18th, 2011
11:44 pm


MC Thank Your Sir!

Stay in LA man, because this is the:

Blog Article Of The Year!

You just summed up all our 14 months worth of rants and rolled it up into a California Burrito!

Aye ASKG! Since your removed the supposed problem – Mr. Woodson?
You basically stuck your collective white azzes out of that glass towered penthouse window and exposed yourselves as – The Real Problem!
We loyal fans will eventually go EGYPT on your BS – Operation and drive you 8 clowns to another court. Bankruptcy Court – See Chapter 13!

(and the lady does a Kanye Shrug!)


February 18th, 2011
11:47 pm

The whole Hawks front office/organization is full of BS…

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Atlanta Hawks Buzz, Top Atlanta Luxury , Chris, Mr.Wonderful, Yuriy and others. Yuriy said: RT @ajchawks: Atlanta Hawks: Joe Johnson: ‘No excuses’ [...]

drmaryb (*_*)

February 18th, 2011
11:56 pm

* mispelled words there. So, read between the lines – You get the point!

You just don’t get a True PG.


February 19th, 2011
12:08 am

The way the Hawks are being run along with the Thrashers, I would not be surprised if Gearon and the good ole boys go into Bankruptcy!!! What a sh**ty group of owners…I wouldn’t give those arrogant aholes a dime…Remember this Mr Gearon your maker hates pride and arrogance! “Pride comes before a fall.” Your a freaking joke….And I am not laughing….Or buying the crap coming outta your butt hole!!………


February 19th, 2011
12:17 am

Gearon, your team was humiliated on National freaking TV for the world to see what an embarrasment you put out on the court! They gave up like I have never seen in all my days watching basketballl..To lose by an average of over 25 a night to Orlando and getting swept as a third seed was terribly unacceptable!!! Your team is a horrific 10-18 in the past 3 years of playoff runs losing on the road buy over 20 pts a night…Not worth a dime to watch that garbage…………

Gearon you need to start packing and kick rocks along with you boys…………….


February 19th, 2011
12:27 am

Good Blog MC. The Hawks are atleast 4 players away from truly being elite and competing for a championship. PG, C, and 2 more impact players off the bench. They have to trade Zaza, Jamal, either Teague or Jordan and picks to get there. It will not happen this year though and Ramon Sessions would be a depressing band-aid.


February 19th, 2011
12:28 am

I’ve been MC’s most ardent crickit, but hell-fire anyone can make a typo.
By the way, MC – your dispassion for your job knows no bounds.
Jiminey Mr Cunningham, I’m sorry, I’ll stop chirping about your passion for tacitivity.

Last note…on the serious side:
* Cleveland Plain Dealer reports;
* Cavs want JC2 for Ramon Sessions

Sorry if that’s old news.


February 19th, 2011
12:40 am

* cricket = typo or misspelled either intentionally or unintentionally.

* tacititivity = not a real word

* Good article MC;
I was lampooning your crickits with my last post.
“there you go” – southern expression meaning:
now you have it
there it is
there you go
have it your way
it’s over and done
well yeah
of course
well I’ll be dawgone
I get it now
and so on

ole hawk's fan

February 19th, 2011
1:15 am

This Basketball Team will never be an Elite NBA Team as long as The New Clampetts(i.e the previous were the Smith’s Falcon owners) own this TEAM. Will someone please buy this team from these a__holes.


February 19th, 2011
1:17 am

Marvin Williams(notes), F, Atlanta Hawks: Two NBA general managers said the Hawks are shopping Williams. Williams, however, has $16.8 million guaranteed through next season and a team option of $8.8 million for the 2012-13 season.

I got the above statement from yahoo sports. What the heck could we really get for Marvin that makes us better? Please before you say it, Ramon Sessions is that lateral move that Sund is supposedly against because he does not move us forward or up.

Shake Something

February 19th, 2011
1:19 am


Section 303

February 19th, 2011
1:26 am

That’s the most annoying thing about the ASG/Sund. It’s like they got together, came up with ways to justify themselves (improved record, young, blah, blah), and they think that shuts people up/gets them off their backs. Well, it doesn’t.

Michael, that’s a great point. If all that was good enough, why is Woodson gone? He should still be coach, right? I would love to hear the response if you ever would ask Sund/Gearon that. I wish I would have thought of that question last Saturday night at the Town Hall Season Ticket Meeting.

I still think the Hawks will make some kind of move. It may not be major, but it will be something. I’m thinking (hopeing, really) that Teague/Evans will be gone and replaced with some type of PG. I’m laying TJ Ford as the most likely new addition. Sessions 2nd most likely, just because their is competition for Sessions and I doubt the Hawks will push themselves to beat out Portland and the one other team (can’t remember right now) that want Sessions.

Najeh Davenpoop

February 19th, 2011
1:34 am

The problem with moving Marvin is that this team literally has nobody else who can play SF full time. Marvin is about as average and replaceable as a player can be (not withstanding his last few games), but if the Hawks trade him, they will have to make another move to acquire a replacement SF unless they trade Marvin directly for another SF.

drmaryb (*_*)

February 19th, 2011
1:40 am


What’s up Love? How are you? Ain’t this some Bull?
Man we ain’t got nothing for X-Mas! Not even a fake tree.

It’s almost Easter and I doubt if we even see the Bunny Rabbit.
I guess I’ll be wearing the same dress I wore last year and watching the same team play the new teams.

Oh well! Now I know what poverty is like.


February 19th, 2011
1:43 am


Hawks get Stephon Curry and Biedrins

Warriors get Zaza, Teague, and Iguodala

76ers get Marvin and Radmanovic

Pros: Hawks get a PG and a C and stay under luxury

Warriors get a bigger guard in Iggy who plays defense, they also get a cheaper big in Zaza and they get a PG with great speed in Teague who could really work out in there system

Sixers get rid of Iggy’s contract which saves them money in the long run, Evan Turner and Iggy are the same that’s the truth.

Cons: Either Golden State or Philly would probably try to ask for a pick even when they both end up getting what they are rumored to want.


February 19th, 2011
1:45 am

Michael Cunningham

February 19th, 2011
3:27 am

@Harpie: “Michael, you idiot: get a dictionary, and stop using words you don’t know. The word you meant is ” tacit”, not tactic.”

you are right about the wrong word. fixed. but i submit that smart people sometimes do dumb things. i don’t think you need that colon after “idiot.” a comma would probably suffice.

Michael Cunningham

February 19th, 2011
3:29 am

@UGA: “Please inform us MC of any trade rumors with the Hawks……do you think they make at least a small deal?”

maybe. the sessions thing sounds legit. i try not to report these things until they are concrete, which i know isn’t really the norm anymore. there’s a wild west of info out there.


February 19th, 2011
3:41 am

Godawful short memories……..Woodson was and always will be a horrible coach. amen……Drew wasn’t a real good choice for coach. I kept screaming Thibadeau and the collective blog’s reaction was Thibadeau who? so don’t pretend you know anything. Chicago just beat San Antonio without noe of their starters Noah….and it didn’t look too difficult…….are they beter than the hawks personnel wise……don’t think so…….just a better organization better coaching….better fans….better city (for basketball)

Something is rotten amongst the players. Who is the evil influence who spreads the “don’t care about team play as long as I get paid and can party?” attitude. Whoever this is……even if he is a bonafide star……. get rid of him. This team has no edge…….just constant on cruise…….

Trade, trade, trade……..

The only thing keeping the Hawks out of the race is total lack of self respect, drive or the ability to care about anything but parties and paychecks.


February 19th, 2011
4:01 am

Mr. Cunningham…hopefully, you’ll finally respond to me after years of posting comments to…i’m curious…the hawks need a big man and probably a pg…why don’t the hawks enter the proposed trade with the nets and nuggets and grab Troy Murphy from them?

Miles D

February 19th, 2011
4:05 am

Just the same good ol’ management in Atlanta that were used to..sadly to say! Just content to do enough to put a**** in seats and help another rich man (or should I say men) get richer! The NBA should be ashamed of letting guys, that are not qualified to do so, become owners of a sports franchise! Bunch of frauds!!!

Michael Cunningham

February 19th, 2011
5:41 am

@Raybud: “Mr. Cunningham…hopefully, you’ll finally respond to me after years of posting comments to…i’m curious…the hawks need a big man and probably a pg…why don’t the hawks enter the proposed trade with the nets and nuggets and grab Troy Murphy from them?”

years? i’ve only been on the beat for 13 months. but thanks for reading.

Murphy? he makes $12 million. that means the Hawks would have to send out roughly the same amount in salary to acquire him. plus, as a big man with an expiring contract Murphy is an asset for the Nets so they are going to want picks and/or good young players with reasonable contracts in return. the Hawks have neither of those as assets unless, i guess, the Nets like Marvin and Zaza. finally, if the Hawks sent out less salary (they can take back 120 percent + 100k more than they send out), they would be in the luxury tax, and i still haven’t heard anything to indicate they want to do that at all, much less for Murphy.

hope that answers your question and makes up for all those years of neglect.


February 19th, 2011
6:15 am


I know you said you dont print speculation, however are you hearing any buzz at all about possible trades to improve the team.

Double Zero Eight

February 19th, 2011
6:53 am

@ sam’l
I concur with your assertion that part of the Hawks
problem is partying. I heard from a couple of reliable
sources that players have been seen partying and
drinking the night before games. This might explain
their home record losses.

Per Sund’s assessment, this season will be a failure
as they will not win 53 games. They will be lucky to win
50. They will likely exit the first round of the playoffs
depending on the seeding.

Attendance will drop significantly next year after an early
playoff exit this year, UNLESS the team is significantly
upgraded at the PG and C positions.


February 19th, 2011
6:56 am

Why do you guys keep thinking the Hawks are going to make a trade.. Nobody wants Marvin or any of that other garbage on the bench…The incompetent owners are in huge debt!! It’s a wrap….Read between the lines..Gearon is going with what he’s got…So look out this team is in big trouble real soon…..


February 19th, 2011
7:02 am

“I concur with your assertion that part of the Hawks
problem is partying. I heard from a couple of reliable
sources that players have been seen partying and
drinking the night before games. This might explain
their home record losses.”
Hey Hawks fans take note “Drinking and Basketball don’t mix!” Nothing new with Hawks players..That’s why they have never been to an NBA Finals in 4.5 decades!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Yawn…Mr. Stern=There will be no NBA Championships in Atlanta….Never…………….

JoJo the Godfather

February 19th, 2011
7:14 am

Ramon Sessions at $8.8 million over the next 2 years is not worth 2 years of Jeff Teague at $4 million -OR- 3 years of Jordan Crawford at $4.5 million. Hopefully Sund can at least see that.

I like Sessions as a backup, but prefer PG’s that can shoot. And before anyone brings up “why keep Teague then”, the young man is now shooting 40% from 3 for the year. I know he’s only made 8 of 20, but Sessions has made a total of 11 3’s in 4 seasons.


February 19th, 2011
7:53 am

The hawks are like a ship without a rudder.


February 19th, 2011
8:28 am

Seems Sessions is too expensive for the return on investment. Must be why we passed on him when we went for Bibby. To me someone like Shaun Livingston comes to mind? Good size, nice defender, but I’d also like a PG who can penetrate. Is that out there? Hard to say, especially one that’s available and cheap. Seems that’s the reason we really have no chatter.

Find a gem, you’ll spark a deal.


February 19th, 2011
8:37 am



February 19th, 2011
8:42 am


Worried Hawks Fan

February 19th, 2011
8:58 am

The problem I see with the hawks team is they put too much money into a guy that doesn’t want to be the vocal leader/leader on the floor “Joe Johnson”. As fan die hard Hawks fan I feel that we have the worst owners/management for a so called up and coming team. The hawks are 5th in the east at the moment with Magic at the 4th spot. Without a major trade does anyone and I mean ANYONE in the city of Atlanta think our Hawks have a chance against the magic in the 1st round?

As is I don’t think we can beat them in a 7 game series. I’m sick of being the laughing stock of the NBA. I mean when you lose 3 times at home bye 30+ how can you get the fans to believe in you?

Walter R. Terrell

February 19th, 2011
9:06 am

Well at least Joe Johnson got that right. “No Excuses” and that’s prime time truth. What gets me is why a 6′8 guard cannot dominate with all of his skills. I hate to compare but damn, Derrick Rose would be a good example to follow, hint and more hints. The same thing can be said of Josh Smith
whenever he realizes that a pure shooter is not in his repetoire. That’s called common sense and basketball smarts. Mike Bibby is still an adequate point guard, many will argue but he sacrificed his game for “iso joe” and the results have not been the best. Marvin Williams with arms to his knee caps an a 6′9 frame with about a 7′1 wing span goes in for a drive so low that my large azz could “STUFF” him. If Al is turned loose then Amare has nothing on him. First round draft picks need to play irregardless of what Larry and Woody deem as far as not being ready, otherwise the Hawks front office who is part of the draft needs to go if they have screwed up that much with the last four guards picked, you do remember the lil Stoudamire fella and A.C. Law. They will never be ready if they don’t live or die on the floor. The Hawks need to know about Teague and Jordon Crawford or they will kill another talented players confidence. Atlanta drafted them now live or die with your picks. Any other team gets one of those guards and you will see a major difference in play. Twin is and has been more then capable in the middle, big body that needs to play way more then he does. Zsa Zsa just should bang and rebound an do putbacks, he is not a slick moving power forward or center and Etan needs banging time, he can still deliver. Atlanta needs to let their young fly or fall because next year is coming fast and the playing time is needed. Making the playoffs is fools gold with the group we have now.


February 19th, 2011
9:09 am

Marvin Williams, F, Atlanta Hawks: Two NBA general managers said the Hawks are shopping Williams. Williams, however, has $16.8 million guaranteed through next season and a team option of $8.8 million for the 2012-13 season. Yahoo! Sports

-and so it begins, the destruction of the core?


February 19th, 2011
9:15 am

JJ = Pippen

6′8 #2’s from Arkansas

their shooting form and body type are identical


February 19th, 2011
9:18 am


February 19th, 2011
9:57 am


According to hoopshype, Marvin has 2 years, and $16 mil left. However, where Rick Sund screwed up is the 5th year (another $7.5 mil) is a player option, not a team option. Typical Rick overpaying to keep his core together.


When Bibby’s contract was up, I thought Hawks should have signed Sessions. he was younger, faster, and he got to the FT line. Plus he was cheaper (he signed for 4 years, $16 mil), and would have been tradeable later on if he didnt work out.

Instead, the Hawks decided to give Bibby 3 years, $18 mil (typical Rick overpaying, because Bibby should not have gotten a 3rd year guarantee), and will be stuck paying him $6.2 mil next year. That’s a lot of money for a guy who is best suited as a backup PG (although his expiring contract might be valuable).

As for the Sessions trade, I am not giving up JC2. When JC1 walks, JC2 will be his replacement (imo). I would offer Mo Evans and Jeff Teague for Sessions (and a second round pick if we have to).

drmaryb (*_*)

February 19th, 2011
10:04 am


Enthusiastic Co-Sign.


February 19th, 2011
10:11 am

Currently, the Knicks are 5 games behind the Hawks in the loss column, and we have a 5 game road trip, along with a tough home schedule.

If the Knicks gut their team, they will still have a big 3 of Carmelo, Amare, and Chauncey. And depending on which veterans get bought out, NY becomes a very desirable destination.

Assuming we dont make a move, can we hold them off for the 5th spot?