It was only a controlled practice scrimmage with local game officials, but these were NBA players and it was competition.
So it didn't take long for the Hawks to start complaining about calls. Eventually a defensive three-second call really had players arguing with the officials, but coach Larry Drew didn't want to hear it.
He stopped practice Friday at Philips Arena to admonish players for their preoccupation with calls.
“Let the officials make the calls and play,” he told them. “That’s a big part of our growth. We are always complaining to officials about calls. We have got to get that [stuff] out of our system. That starts here in practice.”
When players broke the huddle at the end of the game, Drew delivered the same message. He elaborated on his reasoning in an interview afterward.
“To me nothing positive comes out of that,” he said. “[Officials] are not going to change the call, so just leave them alone and just play basketball. It’s a very emotional game, and I understand that. ... [But] we don’t want to get into being a team that complains a lot and always disputing calls and that type thing.”
The NBA this season has expanded the guidelines for technical fouls to include “overt” reactions to calls. The league also increased the mandatory fine for each of the first five technical fouls to $2,000.
Drew said that even if there weren't harsher penalties, he would want the Hawks to tone down their complaining. He said he was called for one technical foul during his 10-year playing career and even remembered the city (San Antonio) and the official (Wally Rooney).
Drew said also he was never called for a technical foul as an assistant coach. Now that he's a head coach for the first time, his interactions with officials will increase dramatically.
“I don’t know how am I going to be,” he said. “If it ain’t going the way I like it, obviously I am going to voice my opinion and stick up for my players. Some [coaches], they are masters at how they work officials. Some guys they take the approach of leaving the officials alone.
“That is kind of the approach I want to take and want my players to take the same approach. I know it is an emotional game, but they have to fight through that and kind of let me handle it. I am going to stay on them about it.”
The nagging injuries are starting to pile up as the two-a-days start to take their toll. Friday, Josh Powell (groin) was added to an injury list that also includes Al Horford (ankle), Pape Sy (back), Mo Evans (knee) and Jamal Crawford (back).
“That’s normal training-camp stuff,” Drew said. “Their bodies are not quite used to this kind of work when they haven’t done anything for a while. Not saying they haven’t played any basketball, but the two-a-days and some of the starting and stopping [lead to soreness].”
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