After the Orlando Magic blew out the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday night, the Orlando Sentinel’s Mike Bianchi wrote a column about the game where he called the Hawks “birdbrains.”
In the headline. Yup. It was harsh.
It wasn’t as harsh as the 101-76 thrashing that the Magic put on the Hawks, dominating from the jump and never letting up until after the buzzer sounded. Still, words hurt. Especially when those words are being read by the basketball-loving public. Even more so when they’re being read by the players. For instance, Josh Smith, who wasn’t too impressed with Bianchi and didn’t really enjoy being called a birdbrain.
During the Hawks morning shootaround, Joshua Robbins, the Sentinel’s Magic beat writer, captured video of Smith’s media scrum, where he addressed the article written by Bianchi (1:20). Smith didn’t hold back.
We’ve got reporters in here that’s calling guys ‘idiots’ and ‘dummies,’ and I really don’t understand how somebody can challenge somebody’s intelligence when it comes to basketball,” Smith said. “It’s a basketball game. Some people like to take it a little bit too far.”
Robbins wrote that Smith continued to talk about Bianchi in the hallway after his scrum was finished, calling him a name that couldn’t be reprinted on his blog. (Too bad, because it’s likely a name we could have printed here.) I guess we’ll have to use our imaginations and fill in the blanks. After being called “birdbrain,” though, I’d say pretty much anything is fair game.
As a writer, it’s your job to write things as you see them. As a columnist, you are awarded even more freedom to use your opinions and thoughts and that’s what Bianchi did. That being said, if you’re going to call a group of grown men birdbrains, you’re also going to have to be willing to take the backlash that comes as a result.
Even if I disagree with Smith and think that, yes, basketball I.Q. is something that can be examined by people who are supposed to be examining why one team did or didn’t win, I wouldn’t have been happy to read that column either. I’ve probably written things player’s wouldn’t have been psyched with, but I try to stay away from calling people names. If I had been called a birdbrain, I probably would have done exactly the same thing that Smith did. I might have even been silly enough to say comments on camera where I could be fined. Good looking out on that, Josh.
I also would have passed out the article as motivation, just as someone on the Hawks organization did. Motivation is a good thing, regardless of where it comes from. Now, up 3-2 in the series, the ball is in the Hawks homecourt and they’ve got a chance to take care of business. Can they do it? We’ll see tonight. But in the meantime, let’s remember that name-calling is never nice.
Imagining what Smith said in the hallway is a little fun, though.