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City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP
City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP

Hawks Mascot Takes Spirit-ed Flight With Atlanta Media

Like their basketball brethren on the court, the Atlanta Hawks marketing team knows how to pick up a ball and run with it.

Hence, Friday’s media day with Spirit the Hawk who became an instant ESPN SportsCenter highlights staple Wednesday night after he broke free from his handler at Philips Arena and took flight during the first quarter of Game Two of the playoffs against the Miami Heat. As Hawks fans will recall, the bird of prey had to be coaxed down from his lofty backboard vantage point.

First up Friday was a guest stint on WAGA-TV Fox 5’s “Good Day Atlanta.” And then, things got inexplicably weirder with radio appearances on The Regular Guys on Rock 100.5 FM and The Bert Show at Q100.

Radio?

Huh?

“Yeah, it really wasn’t about scheduling the interviews as much as it was about responding to the demand,” Hawks rep Kenan Woods told Buzz Friday. “We’ve been bombarded with media requests so we decided to get Spirit out there.”

The 10-year-old hawk has been flying out in Philips Arena to greet fans at tip off for four years. So why did he act out during Wednesday night’s game?

“I have no idea!” Woods said laughing. “I guess, you know, he got caught up in the excitement. He just wanted to say hi to the fans.”

Thankfully, the team has been notified by NBA officials that they won’t be fined for Spirit’s unexpected flight that temporarily ground the game to a halt.

And Spirit will be back for Game Five (albeit firmly tethered to his handler, we’re told). On Friday, those publicity-hogging pandas got some competition as well when there was an uptick in interest from visitors to Zoo Atlanta to see Spirit at his natural habitat.

Oh, and you can now follow the social network-savvy bird on Twitter at twitter.com/spiritthehawk.

On his Twitter bio page, Spirit pecks (with an ample assist from the humorous Hawks marketing department): “In light of recent national media attention, I felt the need to set the record straight, even though birds of prey aren’t known for their Tweeting.”

Spirit’s initial Tweets are similarly entertaining.

For example: “Man With Leather Glove gone. Watching game from Hawks backboard. Best nest in the house…wait. Game stopped. Everyone looking at me. Gotta go.” and “Looking back, for anyone who’s ever awoken to discover your antics on youtube, I feel you.”
At deadline Friday, Buzz was unable to confirm the bird’s upcoming manny and peddy salon session with “Britain’s Got Talent” singer Susan Boyle.

Local Dove Winners

The 40th Annual Gospel Music Dove Awards held Thursday night at Nashville’s legendary Grand Ole Opry was broadcast live on Atlanta’s Gospel Music Channel and included quite a number of winners with Georgia connections.

Tops on that particular list was Casting Crowns McDonough Christian rockers — who won Group of the Year for the fifth year in a row; Christmas Album of the Year (“Peace On Earth”); and Short Form Music Video of the Year (“Slow Fade”).
Chris Tomlin’s “Hello Love” was named Praise & Worship Album of the Year. Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year went to Third Day and that same prize-winning “Revelation” disc picked up Recorded Music Packaging of the Year. And the Blind Boys of Alabama — which includes Atlanta drummer Ricky McKinnie — added Traditional Gospel Album of the Year (“Down in New Orleans”) to its haul of awards this year.

Quote of the Day

“I have to say, it was one of the easiest acting jobs I’ve ever had. You see, it’s just natural for me to stare seductively at a fat wad of money. I actually had to hold myself back from leaping on it.”

–– Comic actress Carolyn Hennesy on her popular new Geico Insurance TV commercial in which she plays a bored restaurant diner eating with her husband and being stared down by her potential savings sitting at the next table.

Celebrity Birthdays

Songwriter Jerry Leiber is 76. Actor Al Pacino is 69. Singer Bjorn Ulvaeus of ABBA is 64. Actress Talia Shire is 63. Actress Renee Zellweger is 40. Actor Jason Lee (”My Name Is Earl,” “Almost Famous”) is 39. Singer Jacob Underwood (O-Town) is 29.

Contributing: Sonia Murray and news services.

Have an item for Buzz? E-mail it to us at buzz@ajc.com. Now follow Buzz Central updates throughout the day on Twitter. Go to twitter.com and search “PeachBuzz.”

7 comments Add your comment

Marci

April 25th, 2009
12:30 am

It is outrageous that the Hawks organization, the trainer of the hawk and anyone else involved allows this sort of inhumane treatment of a bird of prey. This bird is NOT entertainment and does not belong in a stadium with lots of lights, rafters, railings, and people. This was not entertaining, nor amusing. If the Hawks organization is really a professional group, it would stop this practice. I would hope that the Humane society would encourage this practice to stop. When I saw this incident on tv news, I was not amused. This is only an illustration of the ignorance in the South.

Michael

April 25th, 2009
6:22 am

“there was an uptick in interest from visitors to Zoo Atlanta to see Spirit at his natural habitat.”

In Georgia hawks live in zoos as their natural habitat. I guess whales usually live in giant aquariums, too.

Charlie

April 25th, 2009
7:38 am

Marci, you’re a nut case! This has nothing to do with the “South”. This hawk is fed, cleaned and pampered to no end. Your statement shows that you are living in the past and can’t get over the fact that the South is a vibrant, wonderful place. More people are moving to the South than any other part of the country and most of them are not bigots like you. Grow up! Or better yet, move back to your cave up North!

Ted Striker

April 25th, 2009
7:55 am

Marci, try the decaf

Mister Earl

April 25th, 2009
8:33 am

The Atlanta Hawks get too wrapped up in the sideshow. When you run the same cheesy script of regular season “in game” promotions, during a high-intensity NBA playoff game, it is not a good sign. You knew they were in trouble from the start when the bird mascot landed on the top of the backboard and Josh Smith refused to run down near the basket. “Somebody has to get this bird out of here,” screamed the head coach.

Footnote: The Hawks lost the basketball game.

Langston

April 25th, 2009
8:44 am

There’s nothing wrong with how they treat that Hawk; it’s not like they kill it or hurt it after he swoops down to center court. They’ve been letting Spirit fly for four years without incident (aprox 350 times before live audiences in that span). When you go see birds at the zoo, you are seeing them for entertainment. When you are go to the woods to bird watch you are doing it for entertainment. Bright lights ain’t killing the bird honey. When you watch birds on Discovery Channel there’s people, bright lights, metal too. The only thing missing is the arena. Clearly, Spirit is doing fine in the arena.

Lruxwuhf

June 22nd, 2009
11:29 am

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