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