When the Hawks’ players were told about the Nets’ most recent hire, they were genuinely excited for their former coach and couldn’t say enough good things about Atkinson.
“That is the best news you guys gave me today … I have been with him for a while now and all the work he does with me personally, the late nights, the early mornings, to get an opportunity to be a head coach, he deserves it,” Teague said.
“He really loves basketball. He is always in the gym, first one here every day. He wants to win. He is going to bring a different culture to Brooklyn. They are lucky to get a guy like him.”
Jeff Teague wasn’t the only one with high praise for Atkinson. Kent Bazemore credits Atkinson with helping him get better at his pick and roll on offense.
“Even just how he walks around, he still stays in shape, he is out here warming up barefoot, doing push-ups. He is just as into it as we are, and he was a point guard and point guards are special,” Bazemore said.
“If you can’t run pick and roll as a wing it is going to be tough for you. He has one of the most integral parts of the offense, pick and roll, down to a T.”
Kyle Korver echoed these sentiments, stating “He’s going to be a great coach.”
“He’s got a great mindset. He is really detailed and understands culture… Kenny is the right person for that job.”
Atkinson will continue his coaching position with the Hawks through the rest of their playoffs. Game 2 against the Celtics takes place Tuesday night at 7:00pm (EST). The Hawks currently lead the series 1-0.