Chances are Kent Bazemore doesn’t even know my full name (heck many people refer to me as Hawksbeat anyway so its all good) but there is a familiarity that we have shared over the years each time I’ve worked a Hawks event and Baze was there.
This is our appreciation piece.
Kent greeted everyone with a smile and there was never a time he came across as a million dollar snobby athlete.
He was always just Kent and that was more than enough.
My first year covering the Hawks after a media hiatus was the 2014-15 season which was also Bazemore’s first year in Atlanta. He came over after spending some time with the Warriors and the Lakers. There was an article back in 2014 that said that Kent wanted to go to a place where he could have a significant role and enjoy the stability of a guaranteed contract. Up until then Kent had a unique journey to the league was trying to establish himself as a NBA player. He signed a 2 year deal for $6 million dollars with the Atlanta Hawks.
So began the journey.
Kent immediately was part of that record setting 60 win team and became a viable piece in that second unit along with Dennis Schroeder, Mike Scott, Thabo Sefolosha and Pero Antic just to name a few. One thing people often forget about that squad is how good defensively they were. That season was so much fun, it seemed like every night I pulled up to cover a game there was an expectation that the Hawks were gonna win.
During that season, I was a shy guy trying to figure out how to operate and maneuver in a crowded locker room full of media. I didn’t like going to the main guys and jockeying for position so I remember I had A LOT of Bazemore interviews. I remember him always being honest, and he never made me feel small because I wasn’t working for ESPN, the AJC or one of the major radio stations.
He was always just being Kent.
As the years rolled on Kent’s role increased and while the team was going through transition he went from being a 17 mins a game guy to a NBA starter. When it was time to mortgage off pieces of that 60 win team Kent was one of the guys that Hawks believed could help lead a new younger era of Atlanta Hawks basketball. He did that and we never saw him complain, he always talked after games, he always dapped you up in the tunnel if he saw even if he didn’t know your first name.
- 60 wins
- 48 wins
- 43 wins
- 24 wins
- 29 wins
Win total never matter because you know #24 was ALWAYS going to give you max effort. Even in some case where he wasn’t 100% healthy he still left it all out on the court each night because he loved this team, this city and that’s just the type of teammate he was. His impact went far beyond the court because he was an unquestioned leader in the locker room. Despite the win total dropping and the team going through changes, he still played hard each and every night. That’s what these young guys needed to see, and that what you paid Kent for. Showing these youngsters how to be a pro.
There was one Hawks player who showed up last season when the rookies were being introduced to the media… Kent. (He’s in the back talking to Coach Pierce)
It was time for Kent to get paid and the Hawks rewarded his service with a 4 yr / $70 million dollar deal. Some felt some type of way but I never thought the contract was bad and considering market value it was fair. Kent was the perfect fit for a team in transition and when this contract ends I hope he signs a BIGGER contract!
In the video above you can see Kent in the background talking with Coach Pierce. That was during the rookies press conference as they met with the Atlanta media. Bazemore was the only Hawks player there. He spoke with the players, chatted with their families and even had a little sidebar golf convo with Fox Sports Andre Aldridge and myself.
He was just being Kent.
It’s always tough when a fan favorite leaves but the NBA is a business and feelings will always be secondary. This one is tough because Kent was here from my beginning with this team. While I was growing the Hawksbeat brand he was blossoming into a solid NBA player. He’s now much richer, a husband and a father but he is still the same Kent. He has that same genuine love for everyone he meets just like he did when he just trying to get a guaranteed NBA contract.
So as Kent moves on to Portland and even if he doesn’t sign another 70 million dollar contract the integrity that he has portrayed on and off the court is worth much more than any team could ever pay.
It’s been one hell of a ride Kent, thank you for representing this city well and making us proud to wear the #24. Thank you for always taking the time to show us here at Hawksbeat respect and love.
Go get em champ!
Our post-game wrap after Kent sunk the game winner.
Atlanta, I dont even know where to start. Want to thank the @atlhawks for the a tremendous run over the past five years. Lots of roots planted in this city! To the front office and management, thank you putting me in a situation to thrive! #RIPCITY LETS GET IT!! @trailblazers pic.twitter.com/JoR49ol0sd
— Baze (@24Bazemore) June 24, 2019