Consider, if you will, the history of the Atlanta Hawks. First, there was Dominique Wilkins. (OK, he wasn’t first, but for our purposes he was.) With his high-top fade and the higher-top windmills, Dominique marked the peak—both literal and figurative—of modern Atlanta Hawks history. He won scoring titles, Playoff series and two Slam Dunk Contests. And it was good.
Then there was Isaiah “JR” Rider. He too, got high in more than one way. He too, won dunk contests. Playoff series? Not so much. JR didn’t even last a full season in the ATL. Aged Lenny Wilkens 100 years in the process, too. It was bad. Very bad.
Which brings us to Josh Smith, the ATLien, the latest Hawk to wear the Slam Dunk crown. He’s not the face of the franchise, despite his 17.3 ppg, 7.3 rpg and Mutombo-like 2.85 bpg. That would be Joe Johnson, undercover All-Star. Yet it’s Smith, the 22-year-old high flyer who has lead the Hawks where they need to go: the Playoffs (for the first time since ‘99), to face the imposing Boston Celtics.
But don’t count the Hawks out just yet. Back in ’04, Jay Bilas counted Smith out in this very same building, declaring Smith to be the “most likely” to bust before he even did his first post-Draft interview.
Quentin Richardson knows the truth.