Running with Zaza

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Goodwill Hunting? Blogger Night with the Hawks

The Atlanta Hawks invited some Hawks’ bloggers to attend last Sunday night’s game with the Phoenix Suns. Yes, you read that sentence correctly. They actually invited bloggers to the party! I would have liked to be a fly on the wall in that meeting:

-Well, we have done this in the past.
-Yeah, but bloggers? Can anything good come from this? Put them up in the rafters.
And we want Rick (GM Rick Sund) to spend 30 minutes answering their questions.
-(Very long pause followed by an expletive) Are you kidding me? These guys might start a web site saying how Rick shouldn’t have signed Koncak or let Dominique go. They might even blame him for not drafting Chris Paul for crying out loud.
-C’mon. Bloggers are the future of NBA coverage. Why do you think guys are playing harder than ever before? These guys watch mid-week games between us and the Clippers.
-Okay, we will do it. Break it to Rick gently. Lock up the alcohol, the A-Team dancers, and Woody’s play sheet. And be nice.
-How do we know when not to be nice?
-You won’t know, I will let you know. (Okay that last part was Dalton from Roadhouse, but you get the idea.

It turns out that the group of about 10 bloggers that showed up representing blogs principally devoted to the Hawks looked just like a group of young sports journalists. You had the cool guys with the cool blog name, the Daryl Morey stat guy (when he asked a question I thought Rick Sund’s head was going to explode), the hip Obama blogger who had partied for a week straight at the Inauguration, the sports loving woman writer (she actually scored a quick interview with O.J. Mayo earlier this year and had the guts to write about Mike Bibby missing lay-ups), the Al Horford jersey guy, and some others. One of my favorite writers from Playoff Hawks was not in attendance. He loves the Hawks, but he is very descriptive if you know what I mean (please no swearing was one of the rules).

The best part of the night was before the game when GM Rick Sund was holding court in a semi-circle of these eager, intrepid columnists with their notebooks and spiral-bound tablets taking copious notes. Sund started off the session with an overview of the season so far, and he followed with his take on the Hawks ability to reach several team goals.

Then, he opened up the session for questions. Typically, he answered some, he dodged some, he told some anecdotes, and he went off the record with some stuff. I wanted to raise my hand and just let him know that “off the record” rules do not really apply to bloggers. That is what makes them so fun and so dangerous!

You have to give it to Sund. He was cordial and candid. It is easy to see how these guys operate and handle the media. He almost had me convinced that Al Horford’s best position is center. He threw out Red Auerbach and Dave Cowens. I might have been the only other person there old enough to recognize those names. Supposedly, my high school and college coach know Sund from his days at Ohio University and in Southern Ohio. I did not bring that up, but he does remind me of an old school college coach.

Unfortunately, the Hawks lost a close game to the Suns. Our blogger suite was cheering, moaning, and groaning about the usual stuff with this team. Poor shot selection down the stretch, terrible turnovers, poor defensive rotations, and unimaginative offensive sets in the last 5 minutes of the game.

Last night, the Hawks compounded the grief by getting drilled by the Heat in a game that was not even close. Wade dominated. The Heat and the Pistons are gaining ground fast, but I had so much fun at “Hawks Blogger Night” that I could not muster up the normal vitriol to write a blog about the selfish play. I am sure it will wear off, but for right now my good will goes out to the Hawks and GM Rick Sund.


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