Hawks quit on season (and Joe doesn’t care what you think)

If one picture can say it all for the plight of Joe Johnson and the Hawks, this is it. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

If one picture can say it all for the plight of Joe Johnson and the Hawks, this is it. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Let’s start with the obvious: The Orlando Magic are better. They have a center. They have a point guard. They have a roster of players with complete sets of working organs, and isn’t that a novelty?

But sometimes things happen in sports that make you declare, “Push the button and blow the whole damn thing up.” This was one of them.

In a home playoff game, in an obvious desperation game, in a game where the Hawks had an opportunity to show us what substance they were made of, they collectively screamed, “Goo.” They didn’t score. They didn’t defend. They didn’t rebound. They didn’t compete.

We saw better performances when bodies were being jettisoned and the roster was all about 10-day contracts and cap space.

Down 2-0 in their second-round playoff series against Orlando, the Hawks tossed on a little seasoning, propelled themselves onto a rotisserie and told the Magic, “Flip the switch.” They trailed by 10 points after one quarter, 19 after two and 24 after three. A small gathering of fans at Philips Arena stuck it out until the end of Saturday’s 105-75 loss, perhaps hoping it would earn them some sort of refund.

Sorry. Payback will have to come in the afterlife. If you need to know what that’s like, just ask the Hawks. They’ve flat-lined. They’re down 3-0. Their backs aren’t against the wall. They’re on the floor.

Wait. It gets worse.

Al Horford, the best hope this franchise has for a leader, openly questioned his teammates’ heart.

“Effort. Effort — that’s all it is,” he said. “Guys can say all they want about coverages and all this. But it came down to effort — [not] going for loose balls early in the game, missing rebounds when they missed shots.”

And then: “It’s frustrating. I’m not the kind of person who’s going to go out there and point people out. I’ll let them know. But you’re not going to see me cursing somebody out. They know what they have to do, and it’s frustrating when the effort is not there.”

Wait. It gets even worse.

Joe “Max Money” Johnson might have permanently torched bridges with both the Hawks and the city of Atlanta. On the court, he shot only 3-for-15 and scored eight points. In the past six games, he has shot 31.2 percent (30-of-96) and averaged 11.5 points. His scoring totals in the last half-dozen: 13, 22, 8, 8, 10, 8.

“These guys look to me for guidance, and when you’re playing like that, it’s almost impossible for us to win,” Johnson said.

He was half-right. Pretty sure his teammates stopped looking to him for guidance long ago.

Before these playoffs, Johnson was determined to prove he belonged among the NBA’s elite players. He certainly has removed all doubt, but not in the way he has hoped. Even Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy said, “Yeah, we’re double-teaming him some in the post, but he’s getting shots he would normally make.”

How does Johnson follow this performance? He basically tells Hawks fans that he doesn’t care what they think.

The Hawks were booed often, including as they were leaving the court at halftime and after the game. When asked about this, the “team leader” unloaded this gem: “They don’t bother me. It’s about us in this locker room. We could care less if they showed up or not.”

Good news, Joe. The arena might be half-empty for Game 4 on Monday night.

It’s the Hawks’ worst home loss of the season.

It’s their worst home playoff loss in franchise history.

If nothing else, coach Hawks coach Mike Woodson gets points for best summation: “Tonight was just non-existence.”

He looked defeated afterward. He looked like he knew the end was coming — for both his team and himself.

If Johnson has made a loud statement in this postseason about what he is worth, what kind of statement has Woodson made? He was outcoached by Scott Skiles in the first round and so far by Stan Van Gundy in this round, if for no other reason than Van Gundy is getting maximum effort out of his players.

Do Hawks’ players look like they’re fighting to save their coach’s job?

It doesn’t matter that Orlando is better. It matters that Orlando is the only team that showed up. The other one has checked out.

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC and on Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

Earlier Hawks posts

We’re live from Hawks-Magic: Can they make it a series?

Thumbs up or down: Josh Childress a Hawk again?

Hawks show their best side in desperate times again


591 comments Add your comment

Gary

May 8th, 2010
9:45 pm

Jeff,

before the playoffs, you did an article on JJ and the pressure/microscope he is putting himself under. Will you be doing another follow up article?

“He has faded during the playoffs, especially in the past six games. Over that stretch, which includes three games against Milwaukee, Johnson made 30 of 96 shots and averaged 11.5 points”.

Its not all Woody’s fault. But we will be limited to the roster changes we can make. but it will be very easy to not resign Woody. At least that will make the fan base feel better.

Gearon could not be happy hearing the team booed.

Just Curious

May 8th, 2010
9:49 pm

Why is this a surprise to anyone? Same thing happened last year against LeBron & the Cavs…REMEMBER???

Clyde

May 8th, 2010
9:49 pm

Cletus Dooley Earnhardt SR.

May 8th, 2010
9:49 pm

Git rid of Wooody. Annd hire Willi Marrtinesz. This is the worrst non-UGA foootball dayy off my sports life since Darnel Walltrip finishedd 6th at the callyfornia 500

-GO UGA!

Clyde

May 8th, 2010
9:50 pm

“They don’t bother me. It’s about us in this locker room. We could care less if they showed up or not.”

I WONDER HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE GOING TO SHOW UP MONDAY NIGHT

FIRE WOODY

D Hawks

May 8th, 2010
9:50 pm

So JJ is saying that he “could care less” (incorrect use of the phrase, JJ) if fans show up for Game 4 because it’s only about the guys in his locker room. This is the perfect example of what’s wrong with this guy and so many athletes. The superstars never say that even if it may be their true thoughts. JJ, do you realize that without FANS there is no need for anyone to pay you the Max Money you strongly desire??? Where is the leadership on this club? Where is The Superstar putting it own himself as leaders do?

Sloan

May 8th, 2010
9:50 pm

Goodbye Joe. Don’t let the door hit you in the A$$ on the way out, oh, and take J Smoove-sulk and the coach with you!

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by ajc sports editor, Jeff Schultz. Jeff Schultz said: Hawks quit on the season (and Joe Johnson doesn't care what you think). http://bit.ly/d04wQ4 [...]

Clyde

May 8th, 2010
9:51 pm

They need to sell $1 seats for Monday’s game

FIRE WOODY

Rob O

May 8th, 2010
9:51 pm

Thanks Jeff for calling it the way it is.

Vick Supporter

May 8th, 2010
9:52 pm

Hell, JJ is right about the fans here….barely support the team unless LeBron or Kobe comes to town, then when they lose in the playoffs, bad mouth the team. I don’t blame him one bit and it should have been said a long time ago

Clyde

May 8th, 2010
9:52 pm

FIRE WOODY T-SHIRTS AND BROWN PAPER BAGS ON DECK FOR MONDAY NIGHT’S GAME

FIRE WOODY

Matt

May 8th, 2010
9:52 pm

GREATEST….SOAP OPERA….EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!

Not Don Waddell

May 8th, 2010
9:52 pm

See ya, Joe. Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out, you whiny little bitch. You and that little wimp Josh Smith can both get the hell out, you know account quitters. You are thieves, and you HAVE NO HEART, NO GUTS, NO PRIDE. You are a bunch of p*ssies, plain and simple.

RT22

May 8th, 2010
9:54 pm

Joe’s been out the door to the Knicks for months now. It’s no surprise he’s coming up lame in the playoffs and blaming the fans. You’re a choker Joe. A second tier NBA’er on the backside of your career. So Long.

Tellitlikeitis

May 8th, 2010
9:55 pm

Joe, Josh, and Marvin are all gay

D Hawks

May 8th, 2010
9:55 pm

No Heart + No Coach + No Superstar = No Championship. You must have at least 2 of the 3 to win a championsip. The Hawks have none of the 3 right now. Next move is up to Rick Sund and The Spirit.

Just Curious

May 8th, 2010
9:56 pm

In fact, I actually threw sh!t at the flat screen last year (something I DON’T recommend) when they quit playing in Cleveland in the middle of the friggin game!!! It was so OBVIOUS. Not even an attempt to mask the fact that they QUIT.

This year I just don’t really care…My boys didn’t even want to go to the game today. When you lose the elementary school crowd, you have a MASSIVE REBUILDING JOB ahead. They’re the most forgiving fans you can possibly have…But like all of us, even they have their limits. These Hawks have now sufficiently exceeded that limit. How sad and pitiful.

Joe, please take Woody with you when you leave…

Mike in EPT

May 8th, 2010
9:56 pm

Joe can crap on the fans all he wants; we won’t be paying his salary anymore after one more “game”. He’s the worst wannabe this town has ever seen.

GT3O

May 8th, 2010
9:56 pm

Your right Jeff,

We will see how Joe Johnson likes that home court advantage with no fans…

Wait, wouldn’t that make it more like a neutral territory? I mean the whole point of home court has a lot to do with fans right? The loud cheering, the music, and the “pump” factor fans provide?

Unless the home court comes to life and magically starts cheering Joe’s name I think he’s going miss the fan’s…there or not.

steve brown

May 8th, 2010
9:56 pm

Building a team starts with a coach, center and point guard. Our coach doesn’t appear to get the most out of his roster. True centers are few and far between and a team needs a bit of luck (the draft lottery) to get one. We passed on three great guards in recent drafts and have paid a dear price for doing so. Three strikes and you are out!

Vick Supporter

May 8th, 2010
9:57 pm

I swear…we have the WORST FANS IN THE COUNTRY. Like I said, I don’t blame JJ one bit. He is 100% correct, and I’d bet the whole team feels the same way and just didn’t have the balls to say it. Then this bitch ass clown “Not Don Waddell” wants to call them quitters. This woman was probably one of the ones that cheers for Kobe when he comes to town. Not Don Waddell, YOU are the p*ssy

Not Don Waddell

May 8th, 2010
9:57 pm

It’s time to start over. Trade Josh for someone with some toughness, courage and heart. Let Joe walk. Get a 7′ with some toughness, move Al to his natural PF and build the team around the only guy with any courage that this roster has. Too bad Woody wasted Teague’s rookie year, as he will essentially be a rookie to whomever is coaching him next year.

Build around Al, he is the only tough player on the whole damned team.

Just Curious

May 8th, 2010
9:58 pm

WOW…A guy called “Vick Supporter” takes off on the ATL fans! Color me surprised.

Does Vick Supporter mean you’re actually Vick’s Jock? How fitting…

NCBravesFan

May 8th, 2010
9:59 pm

This may be one of the most spot-on articles I’ve read here in the past couple of years. It’s not about winning the series – it’s about competing hard with available resources and letting the chips fall where they may.

On that count, the Hawks have fallen way short. Nicely stated, Jeff.

Gilley

May 8th, 2010
10:01 pm

Jeff, you left your seat before the clock hit 0:00 but I guess Joe Johnson didn’t care about that either…LOL. I was at the game I was cheering. Even when the game was already decided, I was cheering, even though it was nearly impossible. What I saw was the Magic showcasing that they were the better team and outhustling us and outplaying us. They were hitting all their shots even when the Hawks played good defense. They are simply the better team. Effort, hustle plays, and JOE JOHNSON is the reason we lose by 30 though. He is not the star player he should be who keeps us in the game and goes all out. His shots were just not falling. In and out, bricks, all of that. And he was getting torched on the defensive end. Its depressing that we get dominated not that we lose, even though its the same result ( a loss is a loss) we must make changes we most do something. Dont react on emotion because we won 53 games and advanced to the second round but we not competing against the elite teams and our best player is not showing up.

END OF STORY

P.S. Bye Joe Johnson

D Hawks

May 8th, 2010
10:02 pm

Vick Supporter, it shouldn’t matter what these guys think about the fans. They get paid extremely well to play a game at a high level of effort for 48 minutes per night. If you can convince me that the Hawks have done that in these playoffs, then we can discuss the fans. A lot of people paid a lot of money to see these guys play. If you want to own your building, act like you give a da*n.

Willy

May 8th, 2010
10:02 pm

When Woodson’s contract isn’t renewed he’ll be eligible for unemployment benefits. That doesn’t seem far.

Beone

May 8th, 2010
10:03 pm

Joe Johnson = a has been that never was

Reid Adair

May 8th, 2010
10:03 pm

Well done, Joe Johnson. Not only were you a no-show on the court for the Hawks in the second round, but you finally let your alligator mouth outrun your hummingbird brain.

Years ago, there were billboards around Atlanta (courtesy of the late, great 96 Rock) that had Jeff George’s picture with the words, “Don’t Come ‘Round Here No More.” They need to break those back out, but substitute Johnson’s picture for George’s.

You don’t care if the fans are there or not, Joe? That’s fine. Hope the door doesn’t hit you in the backside on the way out.

Vick Supporter

May 8th, 2010
10:04 pm

@Just Curious

In case you’re not a Hawks fan: Do you not remember all of the times where the players and coaches are ASKING the fans to come to the games? We won 53 games this year and we are near the bottom with attendance in the NBA, yet fans come on here and call the players “cowards” and “p*ssies”. And yes, I support Vick. Don’t bring him into the conversation. We’re talking HAwks.

I’m not saying that I’mdisagreeing with Schultz’s article…he made alot of valid points, but I have to say that JJ is right…probably shouldn’t have said it, but he’s right. We have sellouts when Kobe and LeBron come to town.

You cannot dispute that.

Tellitlikeitis

May 8th, 2010
10:06 pm

Vick was a superstar Atl is too redneckish, republican, and tea bagging and Whitey ruined to support a star

ryan

May 8th, 2010
10:07 pm

I don’t see how this helps Joe Johnson this summer he quit on the team and fans some team will sign him but he will not get LeBron money or D. Wade money. I say we have sign and trade for Mello or Dirk this summer.

Bob in SF

May 8th, 2010
10:08 pm

Hey Joe and Woody; Don’t let the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya. Good riddance. Fire Woody, sign and trade IsoJoe.

The Grinch

May 8th, 2010
10:09 pm

While resigning Marvin has handicapped us somewhat, we can still build a decent team if we get rid of Joe and Woody. We need someone in here to develop Teague, and a center. That shouldn’t be too tall an order.

niremetal

May 8th, 2010
10:10 pm

That’s funny, Jeff. Because you quit paying more than token attention to the Hawks long ago, and no one cares what you think.

Tellitlikeitis

May 8th, 2010
10:11 pm

Mike Hunt: I agree but unlike the Hawks I don’t let people take shots at me

Duh

May 8th, 2010
10:12 pm

I’d like to hear what Nique has to say about JJ. JJ = Danny Manning Part 2.

Vick Supporter

May 8th, 2010
10:12 pm

And Jeff Schultz says the Hawks quit on the season…the fans quit on the Hawks years ago. Wanna dispute that, Jeff Schultz?

No sellouts even during the playoffs except when the Magic come to town? You could see all the empty seats when we were playing the Bucks

Mtn Hawk

May 8th, 2010
10:13 pm

Screw you JOE. Get the hell out of ATL and take WOODY with you. You’re nothing but a cocky loser with no talent when the rubber hits the road.

BartBuzz

May 8th, 2010
10:14 pm

At this point does anyone care what happens in Game 4? I know I won’t be watching or listening.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by WDW Report and David McKinney, Jeff Schultz. Jeff Schultz said: Hawks quit on season (and Joe doesn’t care what you think) http://bit.ly/cIKMmp [...]

Greg

May 8th, 2010
10:15 pm

Joe Johnson is a classless loser. Should have traded him to New Jersey or the Clippers before the season started.

I feel bad for the folks who had to sit through that travesty today. They had every right to boo. They spent their hard earned money watching a bunch of spoiled millionaires play like a chuch league team and then ISO Joe spits on everyone on top of that.

Now some of those same people have tickets to game 4. They’ve paid a lot of money to attend an absolutely meaningless game in an attempt to support a gutless, heartless bunch of losers(coach included). This team has won two playoff series in 6 years and both of those playoff series wins would have been choke jobs to less talented foes if they had lost. Why pay to see this team play? Thanks for reminding us that there is no reason, Joe.

chillz

May 8th, 2010
10:16 pm

i made the mistake of buying 2nd round playoff tiks after the hawks were up 2-0 on the Bucks, thinkin they were gonna handle them with ease & come into the Orlando series on a roll. Boy was i wrong. I went to the game tonite, & knew b4 the tip-off that they were gonna lose. Orlando was loose & having fun during warmups…Hawks? no emotion. In the first 5 min., there were numerous loose balls that no hawks went after, missed defensive assignments leaving orlando with wide open….WIDE OPEN shots, rebounds where there were no hawks within 5 feet of the ball. it was pitiful. I will hafta sit thru this again on monday too. this was the worst hawks game i’ve been to by far Horford said it best..no effort. Well, at least i got some free towels.

Hopefully the hawks mgmt will get a vocal leader/player…someone who leads by example & is not afraid to get after his teammates. Josh Smith could be that guy, but he doesn’t bring it every nite, so his words may go on deaf ears. Don’t even get me started on the coach. His time is up. He may be an alright coach (i don’t agree with that, but someone may think so), but i don’t think he is effective anymore with this group.

WJ

May 8th, 2010
10:17 pm

Two things: Fire Woody and let Joe Johnson go elsewhere. Use his money to find a real center. Get a coach that knows how to use his players and which ones need to be on the floor. Not just because they are superstars but because they are giving it all they have -effort as Al Horford says. Get effort all the time and wins will come.

old man

May 8th, 2010
10:17 pm

I don’t know if JJ should stay or go, but ATL fans can be fair-weather at times, and anything he says in the heat of the moment should mean nothing. We are learning that we have made a couple of baby steps forward this year, not the big giant step forward we wanted, and at the hands of the hottest team in the league. We are getting embarrassed, so tempers run high. Today is not the day to make rational decisions about team make-up next year.,

Steve

May 8th, 2010
10:18 pm

Joe Johnson ihas proven to be just another wanna-be prima-donna who can’t back up his ego. This jerk hauls in more in a year than most of the people paying to watch him put up brick after brick and drag his sorry ass down the court make in 20.

If you don’t like it here, JJ, Delta is sure as hell ready when you are. Get gone. Loser.

Vick Supporter

May 8th, 2010
10:20 pm

Mike Hunt,

I could care less what you think.

xoxo,

Vick Supporter

Dawg 93

May 8th, 2010
10:21 pm

Vick supporter….I couldn’t agree more! Nobody cares about basketball in this city. And nobody cares about a weak team that doesn’t even try. Isn’t there another city that wants an NBA franchise? Please…give the hawks to em. I’m tired of hearing about how bad they suck.

Gilley

May 8th, 2010
10:21 pm

Mike Bibby’s son was hitting more shots in practice than Joe Johnson hit in the game. He was that awful! Why does no one call him out or address his poor play?