Live from the Hawks: Even John Hollinger is impressed!

Get off to a 9-2 start and you'll have a lot of friends. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Get off to a 9-2 start and you'll have a lot of friends. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

We’ve had some fun with our Facebook friend John Hollinger of ESPN.com. We’ve noted more than once that he picked the Hawks to win 31 games in 2008-2009 — they won 47 — and declared their bench “a FEMA disaster zone.” (It was actually pretty good.) More recently we’ve noted he predicted the Hawks will slide from those 47 victories to 44.

Well, fair’s only fair. And if we we tweak Big John for his less-than-glowing appraisals, we must also recognize him when he says something nice. And here it is: In his first power rankings for ESPN’s Insiders (link requires registration), Mr. Hollinger has the Hawks No. 1.

If you’re counting, that makes the third set of ratings that puts these Hawks at the top.  Hollinger’s ESPN colleague Marc Stein and John Schuhmann of NBA.com made the same call earlier in the week. (Chris Mannix of SI.com is the contrarian: He has the Hawks No. 2 behind Phoenix.)

With early success comes, as day follows night (or is it the other way around?), increased media attention. I’ve noticed correspondents from ESPN.com (Hollinger again), NBA.com (esteemed former colleague Sekou Smith), CBSsports.com and Yahoo! Sports on hand for tonight’s game with Miami, and it wasn’t so long ago you’d go to a Hawks game find rows of empty chairs in the press gallery.

I’m not going to tell you I’ve been here for every game of the past few years, but I’ve seen a few. And not since the middle ’80s have I seen the Hawks playing at such a high level. (The Lenny Wilkens teams of the ’90s were never quite this good.) I expect the Hawks to win again. I expect them to win every game the rest of the season and finish 80-2.

Yes, I’m kidding. But I’m also excited in a strictly professional way. I love basketball. I love being able to see good basketball without leaving town. And you’re welcome to join me as we chat about Game No. 12 in what has already been a blissful season. To borrow the catchphrase from the Hawks’ failed 1994 postseason: Bring it on!

356 comments Add your comment

rms

November 18th, 2009
6:13 pm

RomeDawg

November 18th, 2009
6:14 pm

Go Hawks! Gotta Keep the momentum going.

rms

November 18th, 2009
6:15 pm

I will be impressed when at least half the season is over. Not overly impressed with quick starts but they are so hard to sustain but its kinda nice to enjoy though. It could be a 2-9 start!

Bob Horner stayed hurt

November 18th, 2009
6:17 pm

John Hollinger is not “the Hull man”…that’s Jeff Hullinger…correct..??

Mark Bradley

November 18th, 2009
6:17 pm

Mark Bradley

November 18th, 2009
6:18 pm

John Hollinger is not the Hull Man. Jeff Hullinger of WSB is the Hull Man.

cefus

November 18th, 2009
6:18 pm

i wish i could see more hawks games on espn instead of their favorite team the cavs, which seem like they get three four games a week. the last game i saw was the boston game and i like the fact that bibby johnson and crawford were all in the game at the same time i really want to see more of that.

Frank Wren

November 18th, 2009
6:19 pm

Hawks are a franchise never able to take that next step. Will they this year?

Bob Horner stayed hurt

November 18th, 2009
6:20 pm

rms…it’s still nice to see the Hawks get off to a quick start…they normally do not….Al Horford is the key to this team…when he plays well everything comes together…

Bob Horner stayed hurt

November 18th, 2009
6:21 pm

and there’s only one “Hull Man”….

Mark Bradley

November 18th, 2009
6:22 pm

There is only one Hull Man.

Kelly Johnson Fan Club

November 18th, 2009
6:25 pm

I think Horford and Crawford have been the difference makers this season. Crawford’s instant offense and Horford’s consistency are something the team didn’t have last year. Of course, Joe Johnson is as good as ever and Josh Smith is the best he’s ever been. With Teague coming up this team could be good for awhile.

Wade_Marquette

November 18th, 2009
6:25 pm

i say 50 points tonight. Streak Over.

Wade_Marquette

November 18th, 2009
6:26 pm

wade #11111111111111111111

Old devil

November 18th, 2009
6:26 pm

So far, I am impressed with the Hawks start. But wait until the injury bug hits,(as it inevitably does), and then see how they react to adversity. It is my hope as a long suffering Hawk fan, that they will be able to rise above it, and with the veteran leadership, overcome the adversity that will most certainly test them. I hope for at least a trip to the conference finals this year, but then again I am a long suffering Hawks fan…

Wade_Marquette

November 18th, 2009
6:26 pm

streak is over guys! 50 from Wade

rms

November 18th, 2009
6:28 pm

barring any injury maybe this team can be better than predicted this season. I would like to see a steady diet of Jeff Teague though.

Nside Hawksfan

November 18th, 2009
6:31 pm

Hey Marquette, Dwyane Fade will leave the ATL frustrated again… Just wait.

Kelly Johnson Fan Club

November 18th, 2009
6:32 pm

I agree about Teague, rms.

Wade_Marquette

November 18th, 2009
6:33 pm

im sitting at the game as we speak !

nolan

November 18th, 2009
6:34 pm

Please don’t turn this into an idiotic flame war. I went to the Portland game Monday, walked up, bought $10 tix and moved to center court, first row on the upper deck. I wonder how much longer I’ll be able to do that? Will Atlanta ever become a basketball town? I notice its rare to find Hawks news on the AJC front page…

Fisher in Augusta

November 18th, 2009
6:34 pm

I am so excited about the Hawks’ great (so far) season! My only wish is that Atlanta fans would support the Hawks more- even when they’re not having a great stretch like as of late. I live 2 hours down I-20 in Augusta and would own season tix if I lived in Atlanta. I’d love for Philips Arena to be one of those dreaded destinations (like TD Garden & “The Q”) because of the exciting atmosphere & loud fans.

Mr. G

November 18th, 2009
6:37 pm

4th!!!!! I think…..Given what I saw on Heat highlights from this morning….The Hawks cannot afford another slow start tonight like Monday Night…..The Heat had a game last and a travel day so they should be weary even though they might try to make tonight;s game a statement game tonight with what has tired legs…..Hawks are going to win 98-92….

Mark Bradley

November 18th, 2009
6:38 pm

This is a good deep team. When your No. 2 scorer on the season doesn’t start, you know you’re onto something.

seed

November 18th, 2009
6:44 pm

Thanks for the live blog Bradley. I appreciate that. I’m loving the Hawks. I am proud of Joe Johnson’s assertiveness lately. Can’t stand it when he plays “cooperative” out there.

Dash Riprock

November 18th, 2009
6:47 pm

Great start for the Hawks. Question, Mark. With Johnson saying before the season that he wanted to test upcoming free agency, what are the Hawks chances of reeling him in and keeping him the core of this group?

Hawk n the Ham

November 18th, 2009
6:49 pm

Mark

Are you in the press box or near the sidecourt?

If near the sidecourt, I want to see you on camera doing the Macarena during timeouts!!

Nside Hawksfan

November 18th, 2009
6:49 pm

So Marquette, you’re at the game? Sounds like your going home frustrated too!

Not Disappointed

November 18th, 2009
6:50 pm

“Hey Mark!” Am I “Tardy for the Party!”

Joe

November 18th, 2009
6:52 pm

This is a must win game for the hawks cause it’s good to win against miami which is a team they could face again in the first round of the playoffs.

Mark Bradley

November 18th, 2009
6:54 pm

I’m up in the rafters, Ham.

Mark Bradley

November 18th, 2009
6:55 pm

The Hawks would have to considered favorites to keep Joe Johnson. That doesn’t mean they will, though.

VaDawg

November 18th, 2009
6:55 pm

I am just glad to see the Hawks playing respectable ball again. I vividly rember the days of Nique, Willis and Webb. It’s nice to have another GA team to cheer for.
Any out of the box predictions for the win total for the year?

Hawk n the Ham

November 18th, 2009
6:56 pm

AJC was kind enough to get you the Aaron Lucky Dog – Rafter special, huh?

Bob Horner stayed hurt

November 18th, 2009
7:02 pm

VaDawg….speaking on Nique,Willis and Webb…I remember where I was when Boston beat us in game 6. do you..?? I was in Germany…listened on the radio…that hurt…we had the best in the NBA that year…(1988 or 1987…not sure which yr…) memory fades with age

Mark Bradley

November 18th, 2009
7:03 pm

That’s just where most of the media sits at a Hawks game. Almost every NBA team has removed press row at courtside and has taken to selling those seats. Money, you understand.

ryan

November 18th, 2009
7:03 pm

what do you think of nique’s subject verb agreement?

Mark Bradley

November 18th, 2009
7:03 pm

And now for the depressing news: There’s not much of a crowd, at least not yet. But I understand traffic is wretched.

ryan

November 18th, 2009
7:06 pm

apparently josh and horford is playing their best defense of their career

Mark Bradley

November 18th, 2009
7:08 pm

I’m in agreement with anything Dominique says.

BONE

November 18th, 2009
7:09 pm

Hopefully fans show up for this game becuz the attendance for the last game wasn’t ggod.

MEL

November 18th, 2009
7:09 pm

I usually don’t like to make comments because, usually all you get is Hawks bashers.. I’m not sure I like the bandwagon jumpers either though.. but I will say this, if we ever get Jeff Teague playing like we know he can play, and Marv at least giving us 10 pOints a game, it will be scary.

BONE

November 18th, 2009
7:09 pm

Mark Bradley

November 18th, 2009
7:10 pm

Crowd has filled in quite a bit. There are more folks here than there were Monday night.

ryan

November 18th, 2009
7:11 pm

go hawks! the hawks is gooooood!

ryan

November 18th, 2009
7:12 pm

nice brad. nice

Andre

November 18th, 2009
7:13 pm

Hey Hawks let keep it up. Atlanta needs a ’ship.

ryan

November 18th, 2009
7:14 pm

and while i’m being a jerk, who is the cheeseball on the hawks sideline and does he regularly get punched in the face?

Mark Bradley

November 18th, 2009
7:15 pm

Hawks down four. Should have been worse, but Jermaine O’Neal missed two FTs.

ryan

November 18th, 2009
7:15 pm

if marvin gets it going, forget about it,