Archive for January, 2010

Michael Vick and his ‘double life’: How exactly did he do it?

I was encouraged to hear that Michael Vick, in advance of his reality show that debuts Tuesday on BET , is saying he led a double life,” and I use the word “encouraged” advisedly. Because you don’t know how many times I’ve asked myself and asked people who worked inside the building at 4400 Falcon Parkway if I/they had any hint — any hint — of what was to come.

And I did not. Which might make me the world’s worst reporter, except that I’ve not yet found anyone within the compound who saw it coming, either.

I know, I know. People on the outside will harrumph and say they knew  it all along because he wore his hair in corn rows and dressed in a manner different from, say, Peyton Manning. But I grew up in the ’60s and have had some fairly extravagant hairdos myself, and I attended my high school graduation wearing platform shoes with four-inch heels. Me, I stopped judging on appearances long ago.

And even if you believed Vick mightn’t have been a model citizen, you knew this … …

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The Celtics promised a ‘hit,’ but the Hawks hit back harder

Jamal Crawford beats the first-quarter buzzer and makes the Celtics even madder. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Jamal Crawford beats the buzzer, making the Celtics even madder. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Celtic pride. Ever heard of it? Well,  it should have been on display Friday night. Turns out all we saw was Celtic age. And all we heard was the whoosh of a younger team flashing past the regal C’s and sweeping them out the door.

The Hawks have played the Celtics four times this season, beaten them four times. No, these aren’t the playoffs and nobody has been eliminated, but we cannot miss the importance of this achievement. Boston was the team that dismissed the Hawks in Game 7 in May 2008, the team that swept the Hawks 4-0 last season. It wasn’t so long ago that we were asking ourselves, “Are the Celtics in the Hawks’ heads?”

And now? Said Jamal Crawford, the architect of Friday’s victory: “Not this year.” Then he smiled and patted his questioner on the back. “Not this year.”

The Celtics spent the offseason getting older. The Hawks spent it getting better. Trading for Crawford …

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Live from Hawks-C’s: Can apt pupils sweep aging teachers?

Two springs ago we wondered if the Hawks could keep from being swept by Boston. At issue this night is whether the Hawks can sweep Boston. Yes, there’s a difference — those were the playoffs, and this is the regular season — but any graph of the local team’s climb from sub-.500 to near-sublime must include a pushpin for those 15 days in 2008.

In their heart of hearts, the Hawks were probably hoping to win one game. They won three, all at Philips Arena, each more improbable than before. They won Game 3 and the Celtics ran out to a huge lead in Game 4, as if to say, “Order is being restored to nature.” But the Hawks won that night, too, and four nights later they were back at home, this time facing elimination.

Again the Celtics took an early lead. Again the Hawks outfought them down the stretch. (The home side scored on 17 consecutive possessions, which isn’t just good — it’s obscene.) And even if that strangely rousing series ended with a blowout loss in TD Banknorth Garden, …

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Bradley’s Buzz: SI sees the Falcons taking a Boise cornerback

Another day, another mock draft. This one comes from Don Banks of SI.com, and his is noteworthy because it doesn’t have the Falcons taking a pass rusher with the 19th overall pick. (Which, as noted previously, the Falcons don’t yet own — there’s a coin flip with Houston upcoming in February.)

No, Banks has the Falcons taking a cornerback. And not just any cornerback. A cornerback from Boise State. His name: Kyle Wilson. Banks’ rationale:

“The search for the draft’s No. 2-rated cornerback behind Florida’s Joe Haden at this week’s Senior Bowl turned up a surprising name, that of the former Bronco defensive back, Wilson. He has blanketed receivers on behalf of the North squad, and has made play after play on the ball. There’s no team that needs cornerback help more than Atlanta, and look for Wilson to continue to climb up teams’ draft boards.”

Cross-reference time: ESPN.com’s Scouts Inc. has Wilson ranked fourth among cornerbacks and 38th overall (link requires registration), …

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Two Hawks are All-Stars, but not Josh Smith; bad call, I say

Both of these men should be All-Stars, but only one's going. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Both of these men should be All-Stars, but only one was named. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Beggars can’t be choosers, and for years the Hawks have been beggars when it comes to All-Star selections. This is the first time since 1998 that the team has placed as many as two men in the game, and that’s nice.

But not nice enough. Should’ve been three.

Josh Smith should be going, too.

Got no problem with Joe Johnson. Got no problem with Al Horford. They’re both deserving. But they’re no more deserving — maybe not as deserving — as Josh Smith.

There are two reasons these Hawks are clearly better than last season’s Hawks. Jamal Crawford is one. Smith is the other. He has taken his game, as they say, to the next level. He has learned to play basketball, as opposed to simply running and jumping and dunking. He’s averaging 15.1 points, 8.5 rebounds, a career-best 3.9 assists and 2.2 blocks. He has made 51.2 percent of his shots, also a personal best.

I know Josh Smith wanted badly to …

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Tech’s Zachery Peacock: The best sub in college basketball

It's hugs all around for Zachery Peacock, who's a key player on a good team. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

It's hugs all around for Zachery Peacock, the shooting star. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

Zachery Peacock is 6-foot-8, 235 pounds. Judging from body type, you’d guess his basketball model would be Paul Silas or Maurice Lucas or the Mailman. Guess again.

OK, enough. You’ll never guess.

Zachery Peacock’s model: J.J. Redick.

And it makes sense, kind of, if you watch Peacock play. He’s a big man with a little man’s touch. This isn’t to say he has Redick range, but if you’re looking for the power forward with the sweetest stroke … well, he plays for Georgia Tech.

It was fitting that the loudest hosannas thrown Peacock’s way this season came from Mike Krzyzewski, who coached Redick. “He could start for a lot of teams,” Coach K said, speaking the frigid day Peacock scored 11 points, including the go-ahead basket on a putback of Mfon Udofia’s air ball, in leading the Jackets past Duke. But rebounding isn’t necessarily Peacock’s pride. Shooting is, and he can really shoot.

About …

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Former Jacket Crittenton needs to grab hold of his career

Javaris Crittenton can’t play in the NBA again this season, not that he’d been playing before commissioner David Stern suspended him Wednesday for the duration. Crittenton has had a bad foot and underwent surgery last month, not that anybody much missed him.

Because Crittenton, not three full years removed from his one season at Georgia Tech, is playing his way out of the league. He left school too soon and didn’t go in the lottery — he was taken 19th overall in 2007 by the Lakers — and has worked his way through three organizations (L.A., Memphis and now Washington) already. And it’s hard to imagine that being suspended for “possession of [a gun] in the NBA workplace,” to use Stern’s phrase, will endear him to any future employer.

He arrived at Tech heralded as the Institute’s next splendid point guard, the line stretching from Mark Price to Craig Neal to Kenny Anderson to Travis Best to Stephon Marbury to Tony Akins to Jarrett Jack. Crittenton had an OK freshman season — not …

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Bradley’s Buzz: Kiper prescribes a pass rush for the Falcons

It’s Jan. 27. The NFL draft is April 22-24. (Yes, it’s three days this year, beginning with Round 1 on a Thursday night.) And Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN has already delivered not just a Rock 1 mock but possibilities for Rounds 2 and 3. (Link requires registration.) Mel, it’s fair to say, works hard at his job.

You probably know that Kiper has the Falcons taking Texas linebacker Sergio Kindle with the draft’s 19th pick. (Although it’s not yet clear if the Falcons will have the 19th pick. The NFL  will flip a coin to decide next month.) You’re also doubtless aware the Falcons don’t hold a Round 2 pick this season, having dealt it to Kansas City for Tony Gonzalez. But here, courtesy of Mel Jr., are names to watch for the Falcons’ Round 3 pick, which is 73rd overall:

  • Jason Worilds, defensive end, Virginia Tech.
  • Dominique Franks, cornerback, Oklahoma.
  • Syd’Quan Thompson, cornerback, California.
  • Eric Decker, wide receiver, Minnesota.
  • Darryl Washington, linebacker, TCU.
  • Garrett Graham, …

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Bradley’s Buzz: John Smoltz to … the stinkin’ METS?

John Smoltz had an intriguing 2009: Left the Braves, ripped Frank Wren, signed with the Red Sox, got cut in August, signed with the Cardinals, did a bit better, pitched two relief innings in postseason as the team got swept, filed for free agency. His final numbers for the season: Two clubs, three victories, eight losses, an ERA of 6.35.

We Atlantans monitored this mostly from afar. Smoltz didn’t pitch against the Braves. (Though he did manage to rip his former employer for its treatment of Tom Glavine.) But if reports from New York are correct, Smoltz would be given ample opportunity to exert the Smoltzian wrath firsthand. Because the Braves play the Mets 18 times in 2010.

Yes, the Mets. According to Adam Rubin of the New York Daily News, “the Mets have been particularly active in dialogue with the 42-year-old Smoltz’s reps and would use him as a starter.”And two of the team’s other presumed pitching targets were lost Tuesday, when Ben Sheets signed with Oakland and Jon …

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Bobby Cox on the 2010 Braves: ‘We can do some damage’

Frank Wren and the skipper greet the youthful-looking Troy Glaus. (AJC photo by Phil Skinner)

Frank Wren and Bobby Cox greet the young-looking Troy Glaus. (AJC photo by Phil Skinner)

The world’s most optimistic man wants it known that there have been a few times he headed south for spring training without a figurative spring in his step. “You’ve got to have some common sense,” Cox said Tuesday, meaning that not every team has a realistic shot at winning.

His final Braves team, their manager believes, has a realistic shot. “We’ve got a chance to do some damage and compete and maybe even win,” Cox said.

Maybe it does, although it must be said that more than a few Braves-watchers were underwhelmed by the team’s offseason maneuvering. Their closer is Billy Wagner, who’s 38 and who had arm surgery in 2008. Their first baseman is Troy Glaus, who has barely played first base and who missed most of last season due to injury. Their best pitcher from 2009 is a Yankee.

You won’t be shocked to learn that Cox sees the upside of all the transactions. “I think we’re good,” he said. …

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