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What is Stotts Era?

Stotts Era is where we come to tell our thoughts on the Hawks. A while ago, the Hawks brass (Pete Babcock) decided to fire Lon “Playoff Guarantee” Kruger and insert Terry Stotts in as head coach.

“I guess when you talk about wins and losses, we haven’t gotten the job done, and so it didn’t really come as a surprise,” Kruger said. He was 69-122 in more than two seasons with the Hawks.

Thanks for explaining, Lon. See, Lon Kruger has actually guaranteed the Hawks would make the playoffs, and the Hawks marketing department ran with it and starting incorporating the guarantee into day to day operations such as answering phones with, “Thank you for calling the playoff-bound Atlanta Hawks,” and telling season ticket holders they would get $125 back if the team did not make it. Well guess what, they did not, and the owners were out $500,000. GM Pete Babcock was let go before season’s end as well.

But, the good part of all this was that the Stotts Era was born, basically just a term myself and Hicks came up with to make light of how dysfunctional the franchise was. Stotts actually went 24 wins against 31 losses for the rest of that 2002-03 season, which at that point in Hawks history was probably one of the best 55 game stretches in a 10 year period.

As I remember. the Hawks front office/ownership/staff/etc/etc was, as it is today, a mess and they couldn’t figure out whether they wanted Stotts in as coach for 03-04 or not. I’m assuming GM Billy Knight was just giving Stotts a year, but knew he (Knight) would find his own guy eventually, that is just the nature in the Association. But the 2003-04 season was a magical year, as Stotts lead the Hawks to 28 whole wins. Not included in those wins (because it was a loss) was one game where Stotts was smart enough to insert Rasheed Wallace in the starting lineup. ‘Sheed had 20 points with 5 blocks that game but it wasn’t good enough for this club, as the Hawks shipped him to Detroit for salary cap space within the next few days. You can relive that game here. And the Hawks actually got Bobby Sura in the deal, who against the Nets later in that had a triple double taken away from him by David Stern. Sura purposely missed a shot, as to get his own rebound. Quote from after that game the kind of sums up the Hawks in those days:

“They’ve struggled this season,” Richard Jefferson said. “If they can find a high point, go for it.”

So the Hawks were basically not a good basketball team and not much to cheer for but for some reason there were a handful of people who did.

to be continued…