Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Going Greek

Mediocre Atlanta Hawks swingman Josh Childress is leaving the NBA to play in Greece with a team called Olympiakos for a reported $20 million over three years, after taxes. Childress is the fifth player to leave the NBA for Europe this offseason joining Primoz Brezec, Bostjan Nachbar, Juan Carlos Navarro, and Carlos Delfino. Brezec averaged 2.2 points per game last season, the other four averaged between nine and twelve. Childress is the high man at 11.8. This doesn't include Brandon Jennings, a high school student who signed with Virtus Roma instead of going to college.

I have no issues with Jennings headed overseas and legally drawing a salary instead of being paid under the table while the NCAA and whichever college pays off his AAU coach gets rich off of unpaid labor. But for someone to jump the NBA for a foreign country when a reasonable offer was on the table (Atlanta reportedly offered five years, $33-36 million) is both a testament to Childress's motivation being money and the fact that Atlanta has cemented it's spot as the worst sports town in America.

The Atlanta Braves are on their way to missing the playoffs for the third straight year after making it 14 years in a row. The Atlanta Falcons joined the NFL in 1966 and have never had consecutive winning seasons. The Atlanta Thrashers have one playoff appearance in five seasons (half the teams in the NHL make the playoffs) and could easily be perennial cellar dwellers for the next decade after they inevitably lose Ilya Kovalchuk in two years. Which brings us to the Hawks.

The Hawks made the playoffs last year despite being eight games under .500 for the first time since the strike shortened 1998-99 season, giving the Celtics a tougher series than the Lakers. Since 1999 they have won 255 games over nine seasons, or 34.6% of their games. They trade for Mike Bibby, make the playoffs, finally have some buzz surrounding the team, and their sixth man bolts for Greece. Sucks for them.

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