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Monday, June 14th, 2010 at 2:00 pm  |  27 responses

Links: Q&A with Hawks Coach Larry Drew

So about those eyebrows…

by Lang Whitaker

Ever since the Hawks let former head coach Mike Woodson walk a few weeks ago, rumors have swirled about his replacement. Dwane Casey? Mark Jackson? Avery Johnson?

Over the weekend, the Hawks surprised a lot of people by selecting Larry Drew as their new coach. Drew has been the lead assistant under Woodson the last six years, and before that he coached with the Lakers, Pistons, Wizards and Nets. He played a decade in the NBA as a point guard, and his son, also a point guard named Larry, is currently heading into his second season at UNC. Yet for larrydrewall his hoops pedigree, however, Drew had never been a head coach. Until today.

When Woodson was released in Atlanta and all those other names were tossed about, one NBA player who’d played under Coach Drew asked me why Drew wasn’t being considered for Atlanta’s top slot. He’d put in the time, he was respected by the Hawks players — Why shouldn’t Larry Drew have a chance to run the show in Atlanta? As it turns out, he was being considered, just not as loudly as some of the other candidates. Sound and fury are great and all, but Hawks fans are looking to Coach Drew to signify something.

And now’s his chance. I spoke with Coach Drew earlier today before his introductory press conference this afternoon…

SLAM: To begin, congratulations.

LARRY DREW: Thank you, I really appreciate that.

SLAM: So as a first-time head coach, what’s the first thing you’re going to do? Do you start putting together a playbook? Do you call the players?

LD: The first thing, I gotta put a staff together. That’s number one, and that process will probably start this week, I’ll be interviewing some guys this week.

SLAM: I’m sure this whole process — being in the situation you’re in right now — is something you’ve been dreaming about for a long time?

LD: Yeah, yeah. I mean, I’ve always had aspirations to be a head coach. I think it goes all the way back to my early years of coaching when I was with the Lakers. And I actually had an opportunity when I was there, but it didn’t pan out. I guess it was just wishful thinking that hopefully one day it would happen. Later I started coming to the realization that there are guys who have been coaching just as long as I have who’ve never gotten that opportunity. I just said I’d keep grinding and grinding and grinding at it and hopefully it would happen. Lo and behold, I finally got that opportunity.

SLAM: Having been there the last six years and seeing this team develop, do you see the same things that could use improving upon that a lot of the fans and media sees and has talked about the last few weeks?

LD: Well, I think your normal basketball fan can look at our team and pretty much analyze it. If you listen to commentators and radio shows and whatever, everyone’s saying the same things need improving upon. Certainly I recognize and our team recognizes it. I think these guys are itching to get over that hump. We’ve shown and proven we can make the Playoffs, it’s a matter of elevating our games to make it to that next level.

SLAM: How do you as head coach get the players to buy into that?

LD: Obviously, what’s happened the last couple of years, as far as us just getting there, we see that we’re a very capable team as far as getting there.  Think these guys really want it. I think they want to prove to the world that they can get to that next level. Not only prove to the world, but I think they want to prove to themselves. At one point there was the satisfaction of just making it to the Playoffs. Then it went from just making it to getting through the first round. Now it’s not just getting through the first round, but getting through the second round. So you know, it’s been a six-year process, every year we’ve gotten better, and now we’re ready to just take that next jump.

SLAM: But at some point don’t you have to get them to understand, OK guys, this is all great and stuff, but you’ve got to share the ball on offense?

LD: That’s part of looking at our team and seeing what some of the issues are that have slowed us down and kept us from making that next big jump. Offensively, a lot of people are seeing the same thing. When you have five guys out there playing together, five guys out there moving the basketball, and five guy out there who are a threat, you become a much more potent team, and that’s something that I’m definitely planning on implementing, so we can have all guys out on the floor being a threat. Not all five guys necessarily being scorers, but all five guys being a threat. We have the capability of obviously Joe having a big night, or Josh Smith or Al having a big night, even the capability of Marvin having a big night. And Jamal coming off the bench is obviously a guy who can score in bunches. We just want to add a few things, subtract a few things just to make us a better ballclub.

SLAM: And where does Jeff Teague fit into all of this?

LD: Jeff is a kid that first of all, I really love his talent and his skill level. I think he really has the ability to make our team better, and it’s going to be my job to put him in that position. I’ve seen a lot of point guards, and I’ve played against a lot of them, and this kid, he has the ability. It’s just a matter of him going in, being confident and playing at a high level.

SLAM: Do you have any plans to shave your eyebrows or anything?

LD: (laughs) That ain’t gonna happen. (laughs) That is not going to happen. I have my ways to get the guys to play hard.

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  • papa

    if i was him, id draft larry drew II next year and make him the starting pg #nepotism

  • http://twitter.com/capohpr papa

    oh btw 1st

  • http://slamonline.com/ Tzvi Twersky

    And so the Larry Drew era begins…

  • http://coco-vents.blogspot.com Co Co

    A two year contract tells me they’re just as confident about this hire as I am. *rolls eyes*

  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    Good stuff, Lang. I would’ve liked to see Mark Jackson get a shot, and remain convinced he will do a great job when a team is smart enough to hire him, but all indications are that Drew will be very solid for your Hawks.

  • http://www.slamonline.com AI

    I hate to say it, buy the Hawks have already peaked. I don’t see how they can get much better with this core of players.

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  • http://www.bulls.com Enigmatic

    Hopefully Russ, Bryan, Ryne or SOMEONE can interview Mr. Tibbs after the Finals. It’ll be nice for Bulls fans to finally hear from the guy himself and not other people.

  • http://www.stuffwhitepeoplelike.com Tarzan Cooper

    Lang has been mostly absent throughout the finals, then pops up with a piece about what else? The hawks. Jeez lang, give it a break, save it for next week. Not even short links about all the wildness in the finals? No, more hawks stuff. And in my estimation mark jackson would be a horrible coach. I bet the players would tune him out after the third day of training camp. How can your whole coaching strategy be a pile of cliches?

  • http://www.stuffwhitepeoplelike.com Tarzan Cooper

    Estimation of interaction between mark jackson the head coach and captain of the team(lets say hawks, so jj)………………jj: coach we just got burnt on the same play twice, any adjustments? ……Mark: good defense, better offense….. Jj: yea, ok coach, but we gotta do something. ….Mark: hand down man down……. Jj: coach, that doesnt really help we need specific adjustments……mark: mama, there goes that man…. Jj: woody was better

  • gkchump

    Yeah, we’re in the middle of an awesome finals series and we get a post about….the Hawks new coach. Seriously. Rename this “Hawks News” or something. It’s not even funny anymore.

  • http://twitter.com/pdxgaybball dma

    anything to get mark jackson off the air is fine by me. 2 year deal and most likely JJ leaving isn’t a good start for Drew. almost like he’s being set up to fail.

  • Jer Boi

    I really want to see what Teague can do if he gets his chance

  • http://www.bulls.com Enigmatic

    LOL @ Tarzan.

  • http://slamonline.com Lang Whitaker

    So i guess a post before the Finals about the Finals, a liveblog during Game 1 of the Finals, a long post from L.A. in between Games 1 and 2, running the SLAM Twitter feed live during Game 2 of the Finals, and a post before Game 4 of the Finals wasn’t enough? You know, we have a lot of really good writers here on SLAMonline; I’m not the only voice; it ain’t 2002 again. Also, I’ll never apologize for writing about the Hawks.

  • nbasuperstar40

    Great article Lang.

  • http://slamonline.com Maurice Bobb

    Good stuff Lang. I guess we’ll all see what he can bring to the table…

  • http://www.stuffwhitepeoplelike.com Tarzan Cooper

    Yes lang, many good writers, but only one links. Game 1 and 1.5 posts were cool. Whats twitter? And frankly, no thats not enough, its the finals, FINALS. What are you saving it for? And the interview with drew was nice, but you know, finals

  • http://www.slamonline.com J

    is it just me or larry drew really looks like a 55 year old c-webb?

  • gkchump

    Sorry Lang but check your tagline. Personally I just want it to go back to the way it was in ’02 (or ’01 like the tagline). If you don’t have time or your interests are only with the Hawks that cool and understandable and I know we’re just being selfish but at least say so. The problem is your stories on the Hawks look like you’re on their books. You can’t be happy with the hiring of this joker based on what you’ve said in the past, but you’re too tight to the Hawks brass to be able to say so. Just feels like Hawks propaganda which isn’t what I’ve come to expect from slam. Which by the way I’ve been reading since ish 1.

    p.s. it’s the finals. Lakers v Celtics, Kobe’s legacy going down the toilet, Celtics looking dead 1 month ago, Rondo on another level, Fisher still doing it at 80 or however old he is, Sheed admitting he didn’t try the whole regular season and playing himself into shape in the finals, Ron ron hasn’t done anything crazy, Ray Allen claims a finals record then then missing 1000 straight 3′s etc etc etc.

  • J.C.

    interesting selection, I figured they’d go with some kinda vet coach who’d been in the playoffs before. They can get to the playoffs, theyre just having trouble winning once they get there which is why they dropped Woody. Strange pick.

  • http://www.hibachi20.blogspot.com Hursty

    HA, I laughed at Tarzan’s second comment.

  • DPhenomenal1

    First off lmbo at those on here complaining of too much Hawks news. Finally. I mean like, that’s exactly how I feel about the Lakers and Celtics for like a long time. I mean I understand they own most of the championships.I really don’t see the problem. The Lakers/Celtics/Finals news is all over nba.com

    And don’t get me started about all the Lebron and Cavs news that gets shoved down our throats.

    Continue to do your thang Lang. ATL Shawty! I’m loving it. I never thought I’d see the day when another nba fan complained about too much Hawks news. SMH! LOL!

    Go Hawks! Go Head Coach Larry Drew! ♥

  • http://slamonline.com Lang Whitaker

    @gkchump: I’m fine with the LD hire. Wasn’t that crazy about any of the other candidates, to be honest. And from what the players have told me, they honestly like Drew and they wanted him to get a shot at it. So we’ll see. (BTW, someone expects Hawks propaganda from SLAM!!!! Love it!)

  • Noel

    Drew II is heading into his 3rd season at UNC, but 2nd with main pg duties

  • http://www.alllooksame.com Tarzan Cooper

    how could i forget? kansas city kansas! larry drew!

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