For nine seasons, Josh Smith was launching ill-advised jump shots while wearing an Atlanta Hawks jersey. Smith is an Atlanta native who averaged 15.3 points and eight rebounds a game for a Hawks in those years, alternating between showing off his stunning athleticism and poor decision making. The Hawks were largely mired in mediocrity during his run, which ended when he bolted for Detroit a couple years back.
Smith returned to Atlanta in a Houston Rockets jersey on Tuesday night, and Hawks fans let him hear it — every time Smith touched the ball they booed. He played back, hitting a big three then shushing the crowd.
After the win Smith didn’t hold back his thoughts, speaking with the fantastic Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN.
“I mean, those fans are fickle, very fickle and bandwagoners,” Smith said. “It really doesn’t mean anything to me.”
First off, this is a different Hawks crowd than Smith is used to because they are into the game. The team changed their marketing strategy and focused on the people living in the city (not the suburbs), and that combined with just winning change the feel in the building.
“It’s’s been really fun to be a part of, just seeing everyone get behind us,” Kyle Korver told PBT recently. “We truly have a home court advantage now.”
That said, I’m not sure Smith deserved boos. He was who he was on the court in those years in the ATL, and off the court he was very active with area charities.
“I’d been here for nine years, and all I did was positive things in the community and with the basketball team,” Smith said.
The Hawks had the last laugh, coming from double-digits down to pick up the 104-96 win. The Rockets were without Dwight Howard and James Harden for this one. And it showed. But the Hawks will take the win, which clinched a playoff spot with the win.