Live from Game 5: We’ve got Spirit … uh, no, we don’t

Weird series. The Hawks win by 26 and lose by 29. The Heat win by 15 on the road but lose by 10 at home. Joe Johnson underwhelms. Dwyane Wade hurts his back. Marvin Williams hurts his wrist. Zaza Pachulia cements his reputation as the greatest playoff performer since Jim Leyritz. James Jones has two four-point plays in the span of 11 seconds, and still his team loses by double figures.

And me, I’m corresponding with a bird.

As some of you know, Spirit the Hawk, who went rogue at the start of Game 2, has pecked out a presence on Twitter. (He’s SpirittheHawk, if you care to follow.) Via this online mechanism, he and I — I’m told Spirit is indeed a “he” — have established a dialogue.

It began Friday. Spirit tweeted me at 9:43 a.m. — that’s verb of choice for Twitter — saying, “Keep hope alive. Look for me in Game 5.”

Given that Spirit’s pregame flights have been grounded by Hawks management, I wasn’t exactly where and when I should look. So I tried, politely, to dig. On Monday I sent this Tweet: “Ready for your close-up, Mr. Spirit?”

His response: “Well, Mr. Bradley, what kind of bird do u think I am?”

I tried again Wednesday morning. I asked for a hint as to Spirit’s Game 5 whereabouts. His response: “Unless Madonna shows up, I’ll be the only one there tethered to a man with a leather glove.”

That didn’t help me much. (Heck, I’m old enough to remember Madonna actually showing up at a Hawks game back in 1994.) Nor did Spirit’s mass-tweet at 5:30 p.m.: “Hearing that the NBA commish might be coming to see me take the floor tonight. Are you?”

I ducked into the Hawks’ locker room. Spirit wasn’t there. But Josh Smith had a Band-Aid over his left eye. Did the bird, I asked, nick him on his errant flight?

“No,” Smith said. “It probably would’ve been worse if he had.”

Who (or what) inflicted the cut? “Mario Chalmers swiped up at the ball. He got me. It bled a little.”

Right about then, Zaza walked past. He’s sporting a black left eye. Mario Chalmers again?

“No,” Zaza said. “I really don’t know who did it.”

Actual basketball news: Marvin isn’t playing tonight. Wade is. And with that, I’m going to look for the bird. I’ll report back soon.

Bird hunt: Where to look for a hawk? On HawkWalk, I figured. (Am I smart or what?) I went upstairs and took a lap. I saw Dennis Scott, but no Spirit. Then I saw Rick Sund, the Hawks’ general manager. I asked about Spirit.

“I’m not the bird’s keeper,” Sund said.

I have since been semi-reliably informed that Spirit will be part of tonight’s pregame festivities — but in a grounded capacity. Can’t wait for Spirit’s postgame interview to see how he feels about that slight.

The commish addresses the bird issue: I just asked David Stern if, in his tour of Atlanta today, he had a chance to shake Spirit’s talon. He said he didn’t. I think asked about the league’s bird policy.

“Actually, it’s a raptor policy,” he said. “Or an osprey policy.”

Then this: “It is kind of funny to have basketball ops [operations] talking to a team about its hawk … But I feel bad for the bird. I’m sure he was scared.”

I mentioned Spirit’s newfound Twitter fame. Said Stern: “Oh, he tweets?”

Yes, he does, Mr. Commissioner.

Still no sight of Spirit, alas.

Pregame introductions: What a dud. Spirit was tethered to his handler’s arm, and the two were part of the little tunnel formed by the Hawks’ subs through which the starters run out to do their jump-and-bump thing. I have to confess I couldn’t spot the bird at all — esteemed colleague Chris Vivlamore did — and apparently the handler’s arm wasn’t even raised.

The bird’s wings, I fear, have been clipped for good. (Figuratively, I mean. Don’t want PETA on this team’s case as well.)

T.I. update: He’s here. Didn’t do the intros, though.

Final Spirit update: Even after his less-than-stellar performance, Spirit tweeted me. “Sorry I missed you, Mark,” he wrote. “Got tied up.”

That, folks, is one funny bird.

123 comments Add your comment

The Grinch

April 29th, 2009
7:03 pm

That bird would do a better job of running the Hawks/Thrashers than current ownership. Fire Billy and Woody! Umm…I mean Woody!

First?

Tony from Stone Mountain

April 29th, 2009
7:07 pm

Marvin really isn’t helping his contract negotiations with this man of glass situation.

Fire Mike Woodson Express

April 29th, 2009
7:07 pm

The Hawks need a coach that knows how to make in game changes and other adjustments during the game. Rick Sund is a idiot if he thinks he can’t get better……. FIRE MIKE WOODSON

phar71

April 29th, 2009
7:10 pm

Damn no marv again?! How bad is this wrist? Marv plays some solid D, and I think that is what we will miss the most. Dwade is playing with a bad back, and our man cant play with a bad wrist?

Mark Bradley

April 29th, 2009
7:20 pm

The Grinch is first!

I saw Marvin running down the hall a few minutes ago. His legs, I can report, seem OK.

Cuz

April 29th, 2009
7:49 pm

This is a basketball blog right? I thought I had landed on birdwatchers.com. Oh there goes a cuckoo.

Ryno

April 29th, 2009
7:52 pm

Mr. Bradley – how does Zaza’s eye look? Still bruised and swollen – or is it an improvement? ;)

Cuz

April 29th, 2009
7:56 pm

Mark how has the swine flu pandemic affected the turnout at this game?

Mark Bradley

April 29th, 2009
7:56 pm

Zaza’s eye is blackened but not hugely swollen, Ryno.

Mark Bradley

April 29th, 2009
7:59 pm

Looks like a good crowd. They’ve handed out white “Now You Know” shirts to the crowd. I wouldn’t want to mention who’s sponsoring the shirts for fear of seeming overly corporate, but let’s just say it’s an Atlanta-based company founded by Bernie Marcus and Arthur Blank.

Speaking of whom … Jerious Norwood is in attendance, according to esteemed colleague Chris Vivlamore.

Observing From A Distance

April 29th, 2009
8:03 pm

I think Arthur Blank should look into buying the Hawks…

Cuz

April 29th, 2009
8:03 pm

Mark don’t you think that it is weird that Woodson’s and Martinez’ names both start with Fire. That is one strange coincidence.

I am sorry for the previous post and I apologise to all Hog farmers, pork, the other white meat. How is the H1N1 virus affecting the turnout at the arena.

JenChicktastic

April 29th, 2009
8:05 pm

Mark – I so enjoy your coverage of sports in Atlanta, and your tweeting with SpiritTheHawk has been hilarious. Here’s hoping the Hawks get the win tonight! Go Zaza!

Mark Bradley

April 29th, 2009
8:17 pm

Thanks, Ms. Jen. Good line, Cuz.

Hawks down two, 4 1/2 minutes in. Zaza just checked in, to huge applause. Wade hasn’t scored.

Fire Mike Woodson Express

April 29th, 2009
8:17 pm

Mark your a idiot.

Mark Bradley

April 29th, 2009
8:19 pm

And Josh Smith has taken two jump shots. And missed both.

Fire Mike Woodson Express

April 29th, 2009
8:19 pm

P,G create things idiot. They don’t score often. But i’m sure with Woodson boken defense system it want be long before he get’s going.

Brandon

April 29th, 2009
8:19 pm

Another slow start for JJ…

OuttatownHawkFAN

April 29th, 2009
8:21 pm

Josh Smith should really be fined $1,000 every time he takes a jump shot. Dude either bricks it off the glass or airballs almost every shot he takes. HE COULD BE AN ALL-STAR IF HE WOULD JUST STICK TO WHAT HE’S GIFTED AT…DEFENSE, REBOUNDING, AND GETTING TO THE RACK!

Fire Mike Woodson Express

April 29th, 2009
8:22 pm

Josh Smith lol why does he continue to shoot those crazy shots?

Mark Bradley

April 29th, 2009
8:22 pm

First TV timeout. Heat by three, with Josh Smith on the line when play resumes. Nothing much has happened, in point of fact. Wade isn’t getting his shots — he has only taken one, officially (got fouled on another) — and Mario Chalmers and Jermaine O’Neal are doing most of the hoisting for Miami.

Don’t really know what the Hawks are trying to do, but Joe Johnson threw away his first pass, had his first shot blocked by O’Neal and, on his second, hit the top of the backboard from the right corner.

Cuz

April 29th, 2009
8:23 pm

Fire Mike, are you a pot or a kettle. Put a comma after Mark. Your should be you’re. Then replace a with an. Just change your name to Forrest and we’ll fugediboutit.

Lighten up Sparky.

DrewCat

April 29th, 2009
8:23 pm

C’mon Joe! Can you please knock a shot down???

OuttatownHawkFAN

April 29th, 2009
8:24 pm

JJ is our own ATL version of T-Mac; he gets his buckets during the regular season, makes All-Star teams, and then disappears in the playoffs. If the Hawks win this series (unless he has a HUGE turnaround) it will be in spite of Joe, not because of him.

Fire Mike Woodson Express

April 29th, 2009
8:25 pm

Well ok sorry I’ll spell correctly lol. But Mark, is a idiot and Woodson is another idiot.

Brandon

April 29th, 2009
8:26 pm

Hawks are starting to gain a rhythm…

Fire Mike Woodson Express

April 29th, 2009
8:26 pm

Wade is hurt.

Cuz

April 29th, 2009
8:27 pm

Did anyone get the number of the bus that hit Wade?

OuttatownHawkFAN

April 29th, 2009
8:28 pm

TAKE ADVANTAGE HAWKS…u know he’ll be back!

Mark Bradley

April 29th, 2009
8:30 pm

Wade is lying on the floor. He got tangled up with Josh Smith on a long rebound off a Joe Johnson miss and stayed down for more than two minutes. He’s up now but is rubbing his jaw. And he’s going to the locker room.

OuttatownHawkFAN

April 29th, 2009
8:30 pm

awwwwwwwwwwww…d-wade hurt his noggin…poor baby :(

JenChicktastic

April 29th, 2009
8:32 pm

Wish I felt bad for D-Wade. But I don’t! GO HAWKS!

Mark Bradley

April 29th, 2009
8:34 pm

If any of you get an update on Wade, let me know. I’m sure Cheryl Miller will find out before we up in the mezzanine do.

Cuz

April 29th, 2009
8:35 pm

Mezzanine, is that French for free food and drinks?

the real OLD GOLD

April 29th, 2009
8:36 pm

The lady ref. sucks. Maybe those are fouls in the WNBA…..

OuttatownHawkFAN

April 29th, 2009
8:37 pm

IT’S BIBBY TIME BABY!

OuttatownHawkFAN

April 29th, 2009
8:37 pm

hehehe…nice one cuz

Mark Bradley

April 29th, 2009
8:41 pm

“Mezzanine” is French for “missing half the game because we’re so far away.” But you’re on a roll, Cuz. You’ve had a good day — first on the early blog, now the comedic star of this one.

First quarter ends, Hawks up four. They do, as a few of you have noted, need to blow this thing out while Wade’s out, although from the way he was moving I don’t know if he’ll play again tonight.

Bibby has 11 points, the rest of the Hawks 13. Wade has one point. If not for O’Neal — I confess, I didn’t think he had much left — the Heat wouldn’t be close.

OuttatownHawkFAN

April 29th, 2009
8:43 pm

here he comes…watch out for captain concussion

OuttatownHawkFAN

April 29th, 2009
8:45 pm

did the announcer really just say he couldn’t understand why wade was being boo’d? on the road? in the playoffs? am i missing something here?

Fire Mike Woodson Express

April 29th, 2009
8:46 pm

Mark Bradley

April 29th, 2009
8:46 pm

Am I a diagnostician or what? Wade re-enters with 10:25 left in the second quarter. He takes a rebound off a Josh Smith miss. (Another jumper! Stop it!) Then he drives and gets fouled by Solomon Jones and everybody gets all huffy and now the referees are huddling at center court.

Mark Bradley

April 29th, 2009
8:47 pm

Dick Bavetta is watching the replay. But I didn’t see a punch thrown.

Then again, I’m sitting in Acworth.

Fire Mike Woodson Express

April 29th, 2009
8:48 pm

That last jump shot by Josh Smith lol woodson just lowerd his head and shook it instead of taking his ass out.

Cuz

April 29th, 2009
8:49 pm

I just saw the replay. The ref threw a technical on the seventies Braves cap on the fan under the hoop. Outrageous fashion decison for a playoff game.

Fire Mike Woodson Express

April 29th, 2009
8:49 pm

Mark glad you can see well. If you only knew about basketball lol.

OuttatownHawkFAN

April 29th, 2009
8:49 pm

gotta love NBA “fights” nobody hits anybody, everybody acts tough, then they get separated by guys/girls half their size…yeah jamaal you REALLY wanted a piece of Josh Smith…get yourself DROPPED.

Mark Bradley

April 29th, 2009
8:50 pm

Stop it, Cuz. You’re killing me.

After all that, we get a personal on S. Jones, which we knew, and T’s on Wade and Jamaal Magliore of the Heat and Smith and Jones of the Hawks.

BrandonAJones

April 29th, 2009
8:52 pm

a playoff scuffle??

Mark Bradley

April 29th, 2009
8:52 pm

Wade just took down Maurice Evans on a fast-break dunk attempt. Wade got called for a flagrant foul.