Sorry it’s taken me so long to check in. I got back from Albany a week ago and was immediately slammed with prep work for football. I had two games this weekend. I also had a couple of basketball contests for Georgia Perimeter College to call, as well as some job interviews, brushing up on the control board for Georgia State basketball, now the Department of Labor wants to see progress in my job hunt, and I’ve been widening my contacts to find that elusive full-time position, and . . . You really don’t care, do you? Sorry, I forgot.
Imagine my surprise when I got back from Albany to find that the Atlanta Hawks have the best record in the NBA, with an unblemished 6-0 mark. The #1 seed is in sight! Chicago’s record is going down! Okay, I got all that optimism out of my system. Atlanta beat Memphis, Philly, Washington, Cleveland, Detroit, and Minnesota. Not exactly world-beaters. Only one of those (Cleveland) is at a .500 record. Give the schedule maker credit for giving Atlanta a buoyed feeling, and Larry Drew a perfect coaching mark. (Totally separate point – how are the Cavs leading the Central Division with a 3-3 mark? Is that the NFC West?)
So here comes reality, in the form of the Phoenix Suns. It was a nail-biter, but the Suns put a 1 in the loss column with a 118-114 victory. Joe Johnson had 34, but missed a short jumper as the clock ran down that would have tied. Steve Nash got the ball, was immediately fouled, and you can guess the rest. Here’s something I didn’t know. The win snapped Atlanta’s streak of 14 straight regular season wins at home (makes sense playoffs wouldn’t count in this). It was the league’s longest mark. Atlanta hadn’t loss since an overtime defeat at the hands of the Mavs on Feb. 26. To put it in perspective, the last time the Hawks lost on their own court, I had a full-time job.
Pretty sure you’ve read the news that Al Horford just signed an extension that will give him $60 million over five years. While that removes one question, it still leaves Jamal Crawford up in the air. There was chatter that Josh Smith would be dealt. According to Rick Sund, Atlanta’s GM, no. Right now Atlanta has a $64 million payroll. There is some wiggle room as the current cap is $69 million. Sund said he likes the team as constructed and thinks they can win a title. (Has a GM ever said ‘I think we’ll tank’?) Remember, the landscape next season will be vastly different with a new (we hope) CBA with the players. David Stern was quoted as saying he wants player salaries reduced by about a third (Nice opening salvo – Way to get the players on board). This team should have the same components throughout the season. We know they can beat up the also-rans. We’ll get a taste as to they can really perform they drop in on Orlando tomorrow night (a back to back with Phoenix and Orlando? Ouch. That schedule maker is a tricky little devil. You think he’s your best friend, then he does this to you. It’s kind of screaming for a lawyer joke.)
They’ll go to Orlando without Marvin Williams. He’s still out for probably another week with a bone bruise on his right knee. If there is a bright side to losing his 10 points a game, and his increasing comfort zone in Drew’s motion offense, it’s there’ll be more sights of him sitting on the bench in a three-piece suit complete with matching bow tie. I think Craig Sager might have more tips for him.
Earlier this week, Steeler Troy Polamalu talked about the tough fines that the NFL levied on players for excessive hits. His teammate, James Harrison, was fined in excess of $100,000. He said something to the effect that if fans wanted to watch something nice and genteel, they can watch soccer. Troy, I’d like you to meet Alex Baughmann, a left defender for the Middle Georgia Warriors. (I saw this during my JUCO tourney last weekend.) Alex pronounces his last name ‘BACH-man,’ (And no, during this I didn’t say that he took care of business – at least not during this tourney). Anyway, during a semifinal match with South Georgia College, Alex took FOUR shots to the face. After #4, he complained of numbness in his legs. Not wanting to take any chances, the refs stopped play, and while trainers tended to him on the field, they called an ambulance. He was taken to a hospital where he regained feeling, kept overnight for observation, and released. (He didn’t play in the final, which Middle lost to Darton College, 3-1.) The point is soccer can be just as rough as its’ counterpart. At least players in the NFL have pads, thick helmets, and are supposed to hit each other.
About the Author
Written by John Morgo
John Morgo lives in Atlanta, GA where he has done broadcast work for CNN, The Weather Channel and Encompass Digital Media. As of right now, he does Internet play-by-play for Georgia Perimeter College and Norcross High School. With GPC, he is the voice of the men's soccer, basketball, and baseball teams.