My Big Debut!

Tonight’s the night; my big debut! How do I prepare? Not knowing how to dress, I wore what I assumed to be the “Mainstream Media Member” uniform: suit/tie, round-brimmed Tom Landry hat with index card reading “Press” stuck on it.

Okay, not really. I came in jeans and a t-shirt; you know, to make sure I hold onto my blogger “street cred.” My jeans even had a hole in them! I am so edgy. Just in case I actually encountered members of the traditional media, I made sure to smell like my parents’ basement as much as possible, since that’s where most of them think bloggers reside.

A quick aside on Atlanta traffic: I got to Philips Arena 30 minutes early. I had no idea it would be that quick. This further proves my theory that Atlanta traffic isn’t quite as bad as people make it out to be. Most people that visit Atlanta are coming for some type of large event, and that’s usually somewhere around downtown, which is typically the busiest part of town (or any town, for that matter). So, it’s only natural that non-Atlantans are going to say “You guys have the worst traffic!” I guess that’s better than someone saying “You guys have the worst heroin!” Anyway, enough of a traffic rant…

We met our tour guide/Hawks liaison for the night and he walked us around the arena. It was interesting to see the parts of the facility that others don’t usually get to see. And as much as I’ve been around athletes in my lifetime, you never get used to how much bigger they are in person. Josh “Fletch” Childress (6-5, 6-9 with the afro) came out of the locker room as we walked by, and he looked to be approximately 19 feet tall.

They put us up in a suite, which was very nice. It was a little high up, but gave you a good vantage point on the action. I kept imagining that they wanted to originally put us in the press box, until MSM members joined together in protest. Probably not, but the image is funny.

Before the game started, I did a quick poll of my fellow bloggers and determined that only three of the 10 or so bloggers present live in their parents’ basement. Some of the guys even had girlfriends or wives!?!?!? We’re really making great strides, my friends. Keep your eyes on the prize…keep your eyes on the prize.

As for the game itself, I wasn’t sure what my “theme” would be. Should I do a running diary? Nah, Bill Simmons kinda cornered the market on that. Should I try to do a traditional news report? No. Many people already think bloggers are wannabe journalists, so I shouldn’t fuel that suspicion. So, I eventually landed on a mish-mashed hodgepodge of journalistic disaster, and chose a mix of all of those (with some random thoughts thrown in for good measure).

A few things I want to focus on tonight:

  • Just how good is Marvin Williams?
  • What type of game are we going to get from Josh Smith–the near triple-double variety, or the “5 points, 6 fouls” game?
  • What should we expect from Acie Law in the future, and what does he bring to the table now?

Right on cue with my first question, Marvin hits the first two baskets for the Hawks…good start, Marvin.

Wow, someone’s looking out for me, trying to make sure my first shot at “professional blogging” will turn out well—Josh Smith made the next basket after a couple of good moves down low. So far, so good.

From where we’re sitting, the players look like ants–not because we’re so far away, but because we’re almost sitting on top of them. If you stood a midget next to Al Horford right now, you couldn’t tell which one was taller.

Isn’t it strange how Iverson and Carmelo haven’t really made that much noise since joining forces last year? Or is it just me? You would think they would’ve either had a lot more success or killed each other by now…no in between. Something else I just realized—“Carmelo” does not elicit a red line in MS Word, signaling a misspelled word. Has “Carmelo” already entered the dictionary? Furthermore, do we have Carmelo Anthony to thank, or Carmelo Martinez? I don’t know. Oh, and “bloggers” DOES elicit the red line in MS Word. I swear, we get no respect.

If Anthony Johnson is not bringing the ball up and running the offense, what purpose is he serving? I’ll tell you what he’s doing right now, at least…he’s trying to post up Eduardo Najera. Ugh.

Joe Johnson is hot so far, which bodes well for the Hawks. ESPN’s Marc Stein threw out a stat the other day where the Hawks were like 11-2 when Johnson scored over 24 points. I’ve always hated that stat. Isn’t that kind of the chicken vs. the egg argument? It’s almost as bad as in baseball, when someone says “Craig Biggio is the only player in Major League history to have at least 3,000 hits, 500 doubles, 145 stolen bases, 224 HBP, 1400 BBs, and 325 IBBs.” The arbitrary numbers kill me.

During a timeout, they play this thing on the jumbotron called “Meet the A-Town Dancers,” where they profile one of the Hawks’ dancers. I’m sure that whoever invented journalism is rolling over in their grave. Leslie’s one word to describe her is “Happy,” and Lionel Richie is her favorite artist. I really wish that they intended for the question to mean artist,as in a painter or something, and that she, in the ditziest voice possible was like, “Um, Artist? Hmmm…I’d have to say like, Lionel Richie, or something? Didn’t he sing that “Thriller” song?”

It seems that Al Horford does a good job of closing up the middle, because the second he goes out of the game, the Nuggets immediately start driving it to the hole on Solomon Jones…or maybe it’s just coincidence. I’m sorry–I’m just trying to sound like I know what the hell I’m talking about.

Dawn Staley Tyronn Lue just came into the game. It’s so nice to see women getting a chance to play in a man’s game. Michelle Wie is so proud of you, Dawn–I mean, Tyronn.

Just as I was beginning to ask myself, “Solomon Jones is getting playing time? This early? Is that a good thing?” he answers my question for me, by missing a point-blank shot in the lane.

It’s hard to tell if the Hawks are playing good defense, or if the Nugets are just really, really cold. Mario West, the walking cliche (taking the torch from Darrell Armstrong as the guy that all announcers feel the need to call the “spark plug” of the team, and the “type of guy that every club needs”) comes into the game to provide that spark off the bench.

I wonder if Tyronn Lue was ever used in co-ed leagues growing up to help satisfy the “minimum number of girls on the field at all times” rule. He/she should’ve been. Someone sitting behind me noted that Childress is shooting above 60% for the year. Another guy says “well, yeah, all he shoots is layups.” Right on cue, Childress shoots three straight layups. I’m not making that up.

Acie Law shows a good ability for driving into the lane and getting opportunities to score close to the basket. I kinda figured he could do that (which is nice, don’t get me wrong) but I’d also like to see his playmaking skills. Of course, he could get a lot of confidence if he keeps scoring like that, which would, in turn, help out his distribution game.

Another thing I wanted to watch for was to see how Childress gets so many rebounds considering his position, height, and the amount of court-time he sees. It’s clear, pretty quickly, that he is one of those guys that you could call a technical rebounder. For instance, he knows how to play the percentages on where the ball is going to carom on a miss, so he’s always standing in the right place at the right time. In short, I’d say he has good rebounding instincts.

A couple more things on the A-Town Dancers: they do a routine to a ZZ Top song (Sharp Dressed Man). Thanks. I needed to hear the worst rock band in the history of rock music (worse than my own band, which is saying a lot. Even WE wouldn’t cover ZZ Top, and we’ve been known to cover Justin Timberlake songs). Also, what degree of perv do you have to reach to buy a Hawks A-Town Dancers calendar? Like, a certified, convicted perv, or just a guy who’s parents caught him one too many times with a Victoria’s Secret and a jar of Vaseline?

I’ll never get over how it’s acceptable, in a macho, testosterone filled environment, for players to pat each other on the ass. Maybe it’s just me.

The first half came to a close with the Hawks up 65-44. After juicing up the laptop during the break, I’m back at the helm and ready to go!

Marvin Williams picks up where he left off, scoring two quick points off a foul. Williams is a much better player than he gets credit for. He’s got a great jump shot, is an above average slasher, and has a pretty good low-post game for someone his size. He’s just an all-around good player and doesn’t get noticed. The only notoriety he has so far is that he was that guy drafted before Chris Paul.

Carmelo Anthony has scored a “quiet” 28 points, if that’s possible. As if he were reading my mind, a fellow blogger goes “Melo has 28 points?? How the hell did that happen?” Good to see I’m not the only one. Or maybe he’s looking over my shoulder and stealing my material. Asshole.  (Kidding).

So far, out of my list of things I wanted to focus on (I should come up with a snazzier name for that…), Marvin Williams has looked outstanding, while Josh Smith is, unfortunately, putting up one of those “5 points, 6 fouls” type of games. Technically, he has 2 points and 2 fouls, but you get the picture.

A couple more notes on the timeout entertainment: we learn, in a segment of “Acie’s Laws,” that it is illegal in Denver, CO to lend your vacuum to your neighbor. We also learn that Ciara is in the house, and so is MTV’s Lala. You know Lala is pissed that Ciara is just introduced as “Ciara,” while Lala is “From MTV, it’s Lala!” Ciara is smoking hot in person, by the way.

So far, for Law, he’s had a quiet night–2 points and 3 assists–but he’s played very efficiently. A lot of times, with a rookie point guard, you want him to “manage” the game. You know, that terribly overused cliché that broadcasters often apply to quarterbacks, as in “he is the kind of guy that you just need to manage the game—he’s not gonna win it for you, but he’s not gonna lose it either.” I hate when people say that, because it’s just become another way to say “he’s a shitty quarterback, but he’s the best option the team has.”

Oh, and since there is some kind of presidential election/primary tonight (I ignore all politics), here’s the “Foreign Policy” portion of tonight’s blog: I know why all foreigners hate America–Kiss Cam. I am undecided, personally. Sometimes, it’s the funniest thing you’ll ever see, and it doesn’t get old…like America’s Funniest Home Videos. Other times, it makes you embarrassed to be an American.

It seems like Al Horford has no problem with strongly taking the ball to the hole. That’s a great quality in a rookie, and something that’s going to get him roughly 39,500 foul shots throughout his career. All the reports on Horford appear to be accurate. Billy Knight finally made a great pick!! The fact that he and Shelden Williams were both top 5 picks…well…I don’t think I need to say anymore.

It’s a shame that Allen Iverson has never won an NBA title. He’s a truly, truly great player. I know that’s a pretty obvious statement, but he’s one of those guys that you don’t really appreciate until you see him in person. I can’t get over how fast he still is. Hasn’t he been in the league like 30 years? I wonder if he’ll always have cornrows. Like, when he’s 71 years old, if he’ll still have cornrows and put out rap albums. Hmmm…

Unbelievable…one of the promotional contests during a timeout awards the winner with a light bulb, among other things. Wow. I’d just rather not play the contest, thank you.

Chad Johnson is here! I’ll never think of of him again without thinking of Jeffrey Ross crushing him at last week’s Mike & Mike Roast—“This isn’t a who’s who, it’s a who didn’t make the playoffs.” Oh, and Ocho Cinco looks completely wasted, by the way.

Does Tyronn Lue have to change in a different locker room?

If anyone that doesn’t watch the Hawks every night is reading this, Joe Johnson is really good. Believe me. He’s in the top tier of NBA players.

The Hawks eventually wrap up a game that was never really in question from the start. In talking with other bloggers, we agreed that this is a rare blowout win for Atlanta. My aorta wears the scars of all the stress their close games have put me through over the last few years, so to have a game that wasn’t very stressful at all was a nice change of pace.

After the game, we were taken down to view Coach Woodson’s press conference. This was quite humorous. Most press conferences that you see on TV feature a large room PACKED with reporters and photographers. This press conference was held on the practice gym floor with Woodson standing at a podium and three reporters standing within 2 feet of him. They asked 2-3 questions total, and it was over.

However, we got a real treat when we got the opportunity to meet and speak with Al Horford in the Hawks’ locker room. I wanted to ask him a question, but was a little nervous. However, he was one of the most engaging and generally nice athletes I’d ever encountered. So, thinking that he wouldn’t punch me in the face if I asked him a bad question, I fired away with “Al, you played with Joakim Noah at Florida. Given what’s happened with him the last few days in Chicago, did you guys ever see behavior like that from him in college–anything that would’ve ever warranted you guys–his fellow teammates–suspending him?”

I figured he would give a very vanilla, politically correct answer. However, he gave what appeared to be a genuine answer:

“Yeah, in college we all learned pretty quickly how he was, and how he would act sometimes, and we all had to kind of look out for him and keep him in line a little bit. He’s just an emotional guy though, and sometimes it’s a little hard for him to keep those emotions in check.”

MY DISCLAIMER: Because I’m not a professional journalist, I didn’t have any kind of recording device during this conversation, so I’m paraphrasing what he said…however, I think it’s pretty accurate. But either way, as I said, I was surprised to hear him give what seemed to be an honest answer. Also, props go to The Big Lead, who suggested I ask him this.

We spoke with Horford a little longer, learning that Brendan Haywood is a pretty sneaky player (“He’ll hit you in the back real hard, and then be like ‘Oh, sorry man. I didn’t mean to.’ Whatever.”) and that Boston isn’t the greatest town for night life (an opinion supported by Acie Law as well).

With that, my foray into professional bloggerism was done. It was a great night, and a great experience. A special thanks goes out to the Hawks, who have appeared to embrace an ever-growing portion of their fanbase. They did a great job with putting it together. What did I learn? A lot. I learned that I admire those true journalists who have to put together a story each night and finalize it within minutes of the conclusion of the game. I learned that most press conferences aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. I learned there are some other good Hawks bloggers out there, like Sports Gone South, among others. So, I thank the Hawks for recognizing their blogging community, and giving them an insight into what writing about the NBA truly entails. I hope to get the chance to do it next year!

52 Comments

Filed under General Atlanta Sports

52 responses to “My Big Debut!

  1. Jeff

    Nice write-up on the game! Sounds like you guys had a pretty good time. When I went to the Wizards game earlier this season, I thought it looked like the suites were right on top of the court, but they looked pretty nice. Congrats. Sounds like you got to see a good game!

    BTW, if you don’t like ZZ Top, you’re nuts. You have to get away from their overplayed commercial stuff (Legs, Sharp Dressed Man, etc) and get into My Head’s in Mississippi, I’m Bad I’m Nationwide, Cheap Sunglasses, and La Grange to name a few. They’re a great little rock/blues band, and Billy Gibbons’ guitar tone can’t be beat once you get away from the cheesy stuff.

    About the traffic – I live and work on the south side, so I don’t get up to ATL every day or anything, but it seems to me that it’s mostly bad on the major interstates, but surface roads in the city are rarely all that bad. Now, Buckhead, Gwinnett, and the surrounding areas seem to be bad just about everywhere for some reason, but ATL proper doesn’t have horrible traffic, IMO.

  2. Sounds like a good time, but I will say this:

    You know nothing of my youthful indiscretions involving Vaseline and Victoria’s Secret so leave me and my A-town dancers calender(s) out of this.

  3. Big Nuts

    Good work brother.

  4. Nice writeup. Great response from Al Horford, too.

  5. Dan

    Congrats on your first experience with the Hawks. They’ve been incredibly helpful to me in my young radio career so I appreciate them a great deal. Sorry I didn’t get to meet you, I camped out in the Denver lockerroom to get some reaction from AI on his blow up.

    People will come around on Marvin soon enough. He’s getting so much better week by week.

    And Horford is the best rookie the Hawks have had in probably 20 years.

  6. The Beard

    Well done, I gotta admit, coming from a town with no professional teams, I am pretty stoked about the Hawks. They are a lot of fun to watch, and you are right about the stress level of watching, their youth can be frustrating at times.

  7. Supa

    Nice write-up.

    Horford sounds like an all-around good dude. Actually most all of the Hawks sound like good, hard-working guys. Not only are they fun to watch, but you feel good seeing them do well.

  8. atlantasportsfan

    Very true, Supa…and I left a few things out–Josh Smith, Acie Law, and Zaza Pachulia were all pretty cool to us as well, and they didn’t know who we were or what we were doing there. Oh, and Kenyon Martin and Antonio Davis were both in the locker room/tunnel. It was like a big man graveyard. Not sure what either of them were doing there

  9. Dan

    Martin is on the Nuggets. He missed last night’s game with a staph infection in his ass. I wish I was making that up.

  10. atlantasportsfan

    Um, yeah…I totally knew that. Not sure how that slipped my mind. Well, the staff infection thing…that’s just gross. What does the injury report say? “Martin (infected ass) DNP?”

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