Archive for February, 2011

Once a Hawk, Mike Bibby could become a big man in Miami

Will the little man become LeBron's new little buddy? (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Will the little man become LeBron's new little buddy? (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Mike Bibby might just have found a way to the Eastern Conference finals. He couldn’t get there it as a Hawk, but from Chris Broussard of ESPN comes word that Bibby, last seen being grumpy over being traded to Washington, might take his talents …

To South Beach.

I mean, doesn’t everybody?

Broussard reports that Bibby has bought his way out of his remaining contract with the Wizards and has, in what is described as “a stunning move” agree to forfeit his $6.2 million salary for next season to become a free agent now. Writes Broussard:

Bibby is eager to sign with a title-contending team after clearing waivers, and sources say the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, Miami Heat and Portland Trail Blazers are interested in him.

Bibby will clear waivers on Wednesday. While [agent David] Falk said Bibby has not made a decision yet about which team he will join, one source close to the situation said …

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Atlanta sports: So lousy we can’t even top the misery index

"Our one team is better than all four of yours!" (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

"Oh, yeah? Well, our one team is better than all four of yours!" (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

Not long ago, this correspondent was moved to bemoan the forlorn fortunes of our local pro teams – 149 completed seasons, one championship. Now comes Forbes magazine to make like Smokey Robinson and second the emotion, and I do mean second it.

Forbes rates the nation’s most miserable sports cities, and Atlanta — that’s us, people! — is No. 2!

And who, you’re asking, would be ahead/behind us? Seattle would. And why? Writes Tom Van Riper:

The loss of its NBA club was just enough to nudge Seattle past Atlanta, a city with one sports title in 153 cumulative seasons, to the top of the misery list. Atlanta’s postseason misery is legendary, led by the Braves’ failure to take home a world championship in 13 of 14 playoff appearances from 1991 to 2004.

You might have noticed that Mr. Van Riper’s second sentence above contains an error. The Braves won 14 consecutive division titles over …

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Coaching GSU hoops: A tough job, maybe an impossible one

Rod Barnes indicates how close Georgia State was to turning the corner. (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

Rod Barnes indicates how close Georgia State was to winning. (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

Coaching Georgia State is a tough job. That’s why Mary McElroy, who was the athletic director in 2007, thought she’d found the right man: Rod Barnes had already worked a tough job.

At Ole Miss, Barnes won 20 games and made the NCAA tournament three times in his first four seasons. Then it went bad — four losing seasons in four tries, which led to Barnes getting fired, which led to his availability when McElroy called. By Georgia State standards, his hiring was a coup: A former SEC coach who, at 41, was young enough to build something on the Concrete Campus.

That was in March 2007. A different AD fired Barnes on Sunday after not-quite-four seasons for a basic reason: “The win-loss record does not reflect where we want to be,” Cheryl Levick said in a release, and nobody could argue that 44-79 spells  success. But now we return to our original thought.

Georgia State is a tough job.

It isn’t …

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10 not-quite-random thoughts on the Bibby-for-Hinrich deal

Will Bibby's replacement do better against Jameer Nelson? (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Will Mike Bibby's replacement fare better against the pictured Jameer Nelson? (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

1. Kirk Hinrich is much better defensively than Mike Bibby and will be more than a swinging gate versus Rajon Rondo or Jameer Nelson or Derrick Rose come the playoffs.

2. Hinrich might be better able to play alongside Jamal Crawford than Bibby was. But I’m not sure Hinrich will play as well in tandem with Joe Johnson, who’s not easy to complement.

3. When the Hawks traded for Bibby in February 2008, he was 29 and had started nearly every NBA game since leaving college. Hinrich is 30 and hasn’t been a full-time starter since 2008. (Granted, it was Hinrich’s misfortune to have been on teams that drafted two point guards — Rose and John Wall — No. 1 overall.)

4. Hinrich’s career three-point percentage is .379. So is Bibby’s. Hinrich has averaged 5.7 assists per game. So has Bibby.

5. Hinrich is under contract through 2012, which gives the Hawks a year’s cover if/when …

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Yet another chapter in the bleak tableau that is Tech hoops

The Tech student section Wednesday just before pregame introductions. (Photo by M. Bradley)

The Tech student section Wednesday just before pregame introductions. (Photo by M. Bradley)

College basketball is supposed to be fun. What’s happening at Georgia Tech is not fun. It’s sad.

After Virginia beat the Jackets 62-56 Wednesday, players from both teams spoke of the difficulty in playing before such few fans. (Attendance was announced at 5,537. It seemed rather less.)

It didn’t feel like a basketball game between members of the conference that takes basketball the most seriously. It felt like one of those September games back in the middle ’80s when the Braves were in last place and there were 5,000 folks in the old stadium and you could sit anyplace you liked and you wondered, “Is anybody in the world watching this on TV? If so, why?”

As for this game: Tech didn’t play all that horribly. It outscored Virginia from the field and took 13 more rebounds. The Jackets made only 10 turnovers. There was no reason to lose, but they did. They led 46-43 with seven minutes left. …

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The Hawks make a trade, but it’s not the trade they needed

Kirk Hinrich: He's a solid pro, not a savior. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Kirk Hinrich: He's a solid pro, not a savior. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

The Hawks needed to make a trade in the worst way, and the trade they made wasn’t the worst ever. It was OK. Not great, not awful. Just OK.

They shipped Mike Bibby, who was too old and not really a point guard anymore and imported Kirk Hinrich, who’s a good player but who hasn’t been exclusively a point guard himself. They shed Mo Evans, who was expendable, and Jordan Crawford, about whose promise they’d raved only last summer, and acquired Hilton Armstrong, who’s averaging 1.9 points and 2.8 rebounds.

Best-case scenario: Hinrich does his hybrid-guard act — he used to be quite good at it, but his numbers haven’t been anything special the past four seasons — and puts the other Hawks in the right position and this team manages to win a first-round series.

Worst-case scenario: Hinrich fails to mesh with Joe Johnson — say what you want about Bibby, but he and Johnson made a nice tandem — and the Hawks, who …

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Why the Hawks still haven’t gotten past missing on Chris Paul

The guy in blue is Chris Paul. He is not now, nor has he ever been, a Hawk. (AJC photo by Hyosub Shin)

Chris Paul (in blue) is not now, nor has he ever been, a Hawk. (AJC photo by Hyosub Shin)

Every Hawks blog post elicits the same two reader comments. The first: “We should have drafted Chris Paul!” The second, following close at hand: “Can we please stop talking about Chris Paul?”

Reader No. 2 has a point. The draft in question came in 2005.  But a misspent pick of 5 2/3 years ago is the gift (to other teams) that goes on taking (from the Hawks).

History lesson: The Hawks entered the 2005 lottery with the NBA’s worst record (13-69) and stood the best chance of landing the first pick. They had had some good young wings but no center and no point guard.

The 2005 draft, as luck had it, included both a center (Andrew Bogut of Utah) and three point guards (Paul of Wake Forest, Deron Williams from Illinois and Raymond Felton of North Carolina) cut from high cloth. There was disappointment among Hawks brass when they finished second to Milwaukee in the lottery — everyone knew the …

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Yet another Auburn allegation might again amount to little

If you're waiting for someone to take this from Nick Fairley, you shouldn't hold your breath. (AP photo)

Those waiting for someone to take the crystal from Nick Fairley shouldn't hold thy breath. (AP photo)

The SEC breaks down thusly: There’s Auburn, which is feeling good about itself, and there are fans of the 11 other schools who are convinced the Tigers’ BCS title was ill-gotten. For Auburn folks, shrugging off the latest report of wrongdoing has become standard operating procedure. For fans of those 11 other schools, any new nugget offers yet another reason to shout, “See? Told you!”

Fans of the other 11, here’s your latest cue.

SportsByBrooks reported Tuesday that former player Stanley McClover has told “HBO Real Sports” that he received money while enrolled at Auburn from a Tiger assistant coach. (SBB doesn’t name the assistant coach but says McClover will. SBB also notes the assistant coach no longer works at Auburn.)

This wouldn’t seem to endanger the 2010 BCS title, given that McClover left Auburn in January 2006. Cam Newton was in high school, and coach Gene Chizik had …

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5 questions for UGA football: From Dream Team to Drew

Me, I'm thinking Mr. Drew is the Dreamiest Dream Teamer. (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

Me, I'm thinking Ray Drew is the Dreamiest Dream Teamer. (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

It was a indeed a long weekend for Georgia football. Eventful, too. Mark Richt turned 51 on Friday. Aaron Murray played soccer on Saturday. On President’s Day Murray went from having a broken ankle, which is bad, to having a sprained ankle, which is less bad. And now we’re all back at work, and this worker feels moved to pose five questions regarding the Bulldogs, only some of which relate to ankles and European football.

1. New feature back. New line coach. Is a new offensive approach in the offing? Will Friend was hired to replace the overrated Stacy Searels, who left for Texas. Friend spent the past four seasons at UAB, and a check of the Blazers’ stats reveals … well, I’m not sure what. Last season they were 59th among FBS teams in rushing; in 2009 they were seventh; in 2008 they were 40th; in 2007 they were 104th.

Even if UAB had led the nation in rushing four of the past four years, I’m …

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Worry over UGA’s Murray ends in relief: It’s just a sprain

"Hey, ref! That's a penalty kick!" (AP photo)

"Hey, ref! That should be a penalty kick!" (AP photo)

For 3 1/2 hours Monday, we all played the prognosis game: “If you break your ankle on Feb. 19, can you play college football in the Georgia Dome against Boise State on the night of Sept. 3?”

Moot point now. Aaron Murray’s ankle is sprained, not broken. Bulldog Nation can rest, if not easy, then certainly easier.

And we saw, not for the first time and I’m guessing not for the last, the viral power of the Internet and social media. You’ll recall the feeding frenzy over Tweeted news that Joe Cox would miss the South Carolina game in 2009. (He didn’t.) We’ll never forget the thrill-ride that was Georgia’s search for a defensive coordinator. (For late tuners-in, the Bulldogs hired Todd Grantham.) Now this.

Monday’s original report, offered by the UGA student newspaper The Red and Black, was that “team sources” were saying Murray had broken his ankle in two places. Turns out it wasn’t broken in even one place. (Rule of thumb: …

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