A sweeping rush to judgment three years ago led many to believe the Hawks were foolish to give away so much for Joe Johnson -- they parted ways with Boris Diaw, two first-round draft picks and any continuity within the organization because of the ownership dispute that erupted over the particulars of the sign-and-trade deal that brought Johnson to own.You'd think folks would have learned better by now about rushing to judge.
Because the Hawks are the ones skipping down the yellow brick road these days, having finally snapped their playoff drought after eight years with Johnson, a two-time All-Star and one of the league's elite players, leading the way.
"We're certainly happy with the deal," said Hawks general manager Billy Knight, smiling the entire time, from his office at Philips Arena before the Hawks finished their regular season home schedule against Orlando Tuesday at Philips Arena. "We like the deal. And we'd do it again."
Not even the cost looks so steep now.
The Suns sold the first of those draft picks to Boston two years ago (the Celtics chose Rajon Rondo) and will cash in the other one this season with the 15th pick in the June draft.
But they missed out on the true prize, No. 3 pick Al Horford, last year when the pick was lottery protected and the Hawks were saved by a lucky bounce of the ping-pong balls.
For anyone keeping track, that's Boris Diaw and the 15th pick in the draft for a two-time All-Star who just helped lead the franchise back from the dead.
"I didn't know what to think when all that was going down," Johnson said of the ownership squabble that delayed his official introduction as a Hawk until mid-August of 2005. "I was just eager to get the deal done. And I told myself then that I would set out to prove everybody wrong about the move and what it meant for this franchise. That's all that was on my mind from the start.
"A lot of people doubted us and said we couldn't do this. When I told people that summer that I was coming to Atlanta, the initial reaction was always negative. They thought it was the road to nowhere. And now... I can only see it getting better."
MAGIC 121, HAWKS 105: The Hawks finally unleashed their bench Tuesday night, using mostly reserves to finish their 121-105 loss Tuesday to Orlando.
It was the regular season home finale for the Hawks, 37-44, who won't play at Philips Arena again until Games 3 and 4 of their first round playoff series against Boston -- the playoff schedule will be announced Wednesday.
And while they were unable to keep pace with the Magic's mix of starters and reserves that finished the game, Salim Stoudamire, Acie Law IV, Zaza Pachulia, Mario West, Solomon Jones and Jeremy Richardson all got a chance to see some action.
"I thought our bench played extremely well," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "It was our starters that were kind of out of sync tonight. We didn't play them their usual minutes. I thought our bench came in and gave us a great lift. Some of those guys hadn't played in a while. It was kind of nice to see them really execute on the offensive end and try to get after it defensively."
Stoudamire led the Hawks' reserves with 16 points. Josh Childress added 15 and six rebounds and Law added 11 and four assists in his first live action in four games.
"We need to be ready if called upon in the playoffs," Stoudamire said. "All we're trying to do is make sure we're ready to go."