Josh Smith Could Have Cured Cancer and Atlanta Fans Would Still Want to Trade Him
Josh Smith was the “Hawks’ Lebron James.” Unfortunately, politics, in whatever sense of the word a particular reader understands, has warped the perception of who he is and what he does on the floor. Throughout his career, he has dealt with a number of “political” situations that have helped paint a certain picture of Josh to local and national news outlets, alike. Ever since draft night in 2004, Josh’s career has been cursed by the likes of Jay Bilas - who is quoted that night as saying, “If you had to pick which guy was most likely to be a bust in the first round, it would have to be Josh Smith.” While Josh’s career has been far from a bust, he has dealt with the dark cloud of this quote, amongst a number of poor executive decisions by management (the infamous Marvin Williams over CP3 draft in 2007) and his own personal indiscretions, for the heavy majority of his tenure in Atlanta (until Danny Ferry arrived in the summer of 2012, and swept the city off it’s feet by trading Joe and Marvin). Josh has been frequently criticized for jawing at referees and frowning too much when things aren’t going his way, but a man like Jerry Sloan has 413 career technical fouls as a player/coach and is highly revered Hall of Famer (Josh has 62, and for reference, Rasheed - 317, Lebron - 39, Kobe - 160).
Josh Smith is a homegrown spoiled athlete, just like Lebron James, or about half the NBA. These guys are never as selfish as they are portrayed in the media. They are regular human beings who lead irregular lives, but most of whom, are ultimately decent people. Josh is one of those decent people - he is responsible father who does a lot of charity work that goes unnoticed. NBA players are simply doing a job for a company that generates a large amount of revenue, where the salaries they command are a natural business flow (via the CBA).
For any basketball fan that possesses half a brain, and has an inkling as to what goes into building a great sports team, I can promise you that J-Smoove wants to win basketball games. His passion for the game is the sole reason he is not a bust. Yes, he is very gifted athletically, and yes, he could make better decisions on the floor sometimes, but if you’ve watched his career, his improvements, season by season, are undeniable. He has done whatever it takes to help this franchise become and stay relevant, in a league where only 3 or 4 teams have a chance to win a championship each year. Josh was criticized by Hubie Brown during a playoff game a couple years back for “loafing,” on one possession where he didn’t run back on defense, but no one mentions the other thousand times where he chases down someone on a fastbreak and blocks a shot to start the Atlanta transition game. I see guys tired and not running back on defense on both sides of the ball in every single NBA game I watch. It’s a matter of seeing what you want to see. If the media is pointing out the flaws, then the fans follow like the flock that they are and no one ever points out the inconsistencies. Josh Smith has as much heart and soul as an championship-caliber player around. He has an ego like any previous championship player before him. And, although he may not be close to Lebron’s level, he’s our Lebron, and he should be recognized as such.
Coaches, management, and media handle things differently in every city. Throughout the course of Josh’s career, the city has never fully backed this man. We’ve watched him grow from a man-child, into a man-teenager, and now, as he is becoming a man-man, we are holding him hostage as if he’s the same 18-year old kid we drafted. It’s truly unfortunate that notable members of the Atlanta media, like Steve Holman, were never really sold on Josh. The blossoming of talent takes time, but for some reason, Atlanta fans are so ignorant, they go right along hating Josh for the negative, and ignoring the fact that his stats aren’t just stats. They are numbers compiled for the greater good of the franchise. He’s second all time in blocks (1408) behind Tree. He’s 5th in steals (822). Not to mention, he’s in the top ten in virtually every statistical category for the Atlanta Hawks (7th in rebounds, 8th in points). We will be lamenting his departure for years to come if our future lottery picks don’t pan out. And yes, future lottery picks, plural. (I think we will be lamenting his departure, regardless)
This will be a difficult rebuilding process just to get back to where we were when Josh was here. Teague and Al will keep us from dropping to the cellar in the East, which will prevent us from getting high lottery picks over the next few years and we won’t have an attractive enough team to entice free agents. I still think we should’ve “over-paid” Josh and filled out the roster around Teague, Al and Smoove - where we could’ve still afforded another max-player!
Jeff Schultz says we need point guard consistency and every idiot in town says Josh shoots too many jumpers and can’t dribble or pass. I don’t know what anyone is saying. Teague is blowing up this season! Since the injury to Lou, Teague is putting up D-Rose type numbers - look it up. Josh, on the other hand, is shooting 46% from the field, 35% from the 3-point line, and averages more assists than any other starting power forward in the NBA (4.1apg). While i’m not a huge fan of Smoove bringing the ball up, he turns it over 3.0 times per game (same as Lebron).
In conclusion, I watch a very large number of Hawks’ minutes during the course of a season, and as passionate of a fan as I am, I am also fairly objective about this when pondering the alternatives. We will regret this trade - guaranteed. Danny Ferry doesn’t realize what he’s gotten himself into, and I’m afraid that nothing he does will eclipse the relevance we had with our 20-10 start this season (Sarcastic, Dark humored laugh that I’m not happy about). I take the good with the bad. There’s no such thing as all-good (period).