AT­LANTA HAWKS

Maxim - - CONTENTS - —MAX RIVLIN-NADLER

IN A LEAGUE DOM­I­NATED BY EGO, THE NBA UP­STARTS ARE REIN­VENT­ING TEAM PLAY

THE FOR­MULA BE­HIND a win­ning NBA fran­chise is well es­tab­lished— shower mil­lions on a su­per­star, add a wor­thy side­kick in his prime, throw in a fad­ing great, and fill the bench with role play­ers and spe­cial­ists. The At­lanta Hawks have tri­umphed with an al­to­gether dif­fer­ent strat­egy: sim­ply run­ning other teams ragged. While op­po­nents may boast the names, tal­ent, and raw ath­leti­cism, the Hawks have cre­ated a sin­gu­lar, ter­ri­fy­ing force out of many mov­ing parts, all un­der the ban­ner of team­work and grit.

It be­gins with the night­mare matchup of cen­ter Al Hor­ford with for­ward Paul Mill­sap, whose game is flour­ish­ing in a way it never could in the waste­lands of Salt Lake City. Up top is Jeff Teague, a hun­gry young point guard whose in­sane speed, cuts, and dishes leave de­fend­ers nurs­ing bro­ken an­kles. And in the cor­ner waits the cagey vet­eran Kyle Korver, a sharp­shooter who’s been sink­ing three-point­ers this year with su­per­nat­u­ral pre­ci­sion.

“Hus­tle is ev­ery­thing in bas­ket­ball,” Hor­ford says. “Whether it’s div­ing on the floor for the loose ball or mak­ing an ex­tra ro­ta­tion to help your team­mate, what­ever it takes to win—that’s hus­tle. We play that.”

IN A LEAGUE DOM­I­NATED BY EGO, THE AT­LANTA HAWKS ARE REIN­VENT­ING TEAM PLAY.

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