* The Hawks are off today prior to opening the regular season Friday against the Rockets. Here is my story on Josh Smith that will appear in Friday’s print edition of the AJC. A special note of thanks to the Hawks’ crack PR staff for providing the names below of all 23 players in NBA history to have amassed 10,000 points, 5,000 rebounds, 2,000 assists and 1,000 blocks. The check is in the mail.
Josh Smith admits the chip is still squarely on his shoulder – even as he piles up statistics few in NBA history have amassed.
If he remains healthy for his ninth season Smith will become the 24th player in league history to reach 10,000 points, 5,000 rebounds, 2,000 assists and 1,000 blocks. There are only eight players to do it with one team.
Smith has career totals of 9,044 points (needs 956), 4,768 rebounds (needs 232), 1,849 assists (needs 151) and 1,304 blocks. If he puts up his career averages this season, he will reach the points milestone in 53 games, the rebounds in 29 games and the assists in 50 games.
“I’ve definitely accomplished a lot of things that a lot of people didn’t think I would accomplish but I’ve always believed in myself,” said Smith, who insists he doesn’t pay attention to statistics. “I’m definitely confident. I’m a confident person and I have a hard work ethic.”
The Hawks used the 17th overall selection of the 2004 draft to pick Smith straight out of high school. The words of Jay Bilas on draft night still ring in Smith’s ears, even though he refuses to mention the ESPN analyst by name. At the time of the selection, 10 picks after the Hawks selected Josh Childress, Bilas said this of Smith: “If you had to pick which guy was most likely to be a bust in the first round, it would be this guy. He has no right hand and he can’t shoot.”
While some considered the pick a long-shot, Smith believes quite the opposite.
“I felt like I should have been drafted earlier but things happen,” Smith said. “I’m still here. There are a lot of people that went in front of me that aren’t in this league. When I got called, people said I was going to be the biggest bust in my draft. One particular person. It’s all good. I prevailed. I persevered through all the negativity. I will continue to keep working hard to continue to prove those people wrong.”
By comparison, Childress is playing with his third NBA team, with a stop in Greece, and has 3,534 career points. Of the 28 other first-round picks in his draft, 11 are not in the league. That includes four players taken ahead of Smith.
Smith likely won’t be the only player to reach the multiple milestones this season. Rasheed Wallace needs just 12 assists and Shawn Marion needs 140 assists.
Smith, who will become an unrestricted free agent following the season, will join Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson, Patrick Ewing, Karl Malone, Julius Erving, Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki and Kevin Garnett to accomplish the feat with the same team.
“It really doesn’t matter what people think about me or say about me,” Smith said. “I just go out there and play and not worry about any outside distractions. It feels good to prove people wrong. I’m not going to lie to you on that. It feels good. I will always play with a chip on my shoulder. I’ve been fortunate to play with one ball club for this long. That’s a rarity in this league. I’m definitely blessed and fortunate to be a part of the Atlanta Hawks.”
Smith, who is from College Park and played at McEachern High before finishing at Virginia’s Oak Hill Academy, relishes being a part of the group that turned the fortunes of the organization. The team opens the regular season Friday in search of its sixth straight trip to the postseason. Being from the area, Smith said he remembers the lean times in the post-Dominique Wilkins era.
Larry Drew has been with the Hawks for Smith’s entire tenure, first as an assistant and now entering his third season has head coach. He has seen Smith mature – on and off the court – into a player he entrusts with a captaincy.
“He is certainly a player, one of the few players, who can impact the game on both ends of the floor,” Drew said. “But as a young man I’m proud of how he has matured. I notice something different about him every year we come back. You can see that he is going to take every challenge I throw at him. That is who he is.”
The Hawks and Smith will not talk contract during the season. They will wait until the summer when Smith can test free agency and the Hawks can offer extra years on a contract offer.
While his future in Atlanta has at least one more chapter to be written, Smith plans to keep his focus away from outside distractions. The stats they just keep coming.
Here is the list of the 23 players in NBA history to reach 10,000 points, 5,000 rebounds, 2,000 assists and 1,000 blocks.
* – Done with same team
- Story by Chris Vivlamore
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