Former Atlanta Hawks GM Pete Babcock was always honest and accessible during his time as Hawks GM, even to lowly internet scum as myself.
Jeff Pearlman of Sports Illustrated has his own self-titled website, JeffPearlman.com, in which he has a series of question and answer sessions with all walks of, as he puts it, "sports/entertainment/politics/whatever". He continues this series with Babcock, with whom he asks about Dominique, Pete's best trades and, of course, the ill-fated Steve Smith for Jim Jackson and Isaiah "J.R." Rider deal.
I regretted making the trade for Rider before we made the trade. It was the worst trade I was involved with in more than 30-some years in the NBA. We had just finished the lockout-shortened season only two games out of first place in the East (I think that is right). In any event, we had a very good regular-season record. We beat a very good Detroit team in the first round of the playoffs and advanced against the Knicks. They swept us in four games and then went on to the NBA finals. We had home-court advantage and played well in our home games in the first half and then dropped the games in the second half each night. There was a prevailing thought throughout our franchise that we should trade away our long-term contracts and start over with short-term deals and rebuild the team.
Over my years of covering the team when Pete was GM, Pete was always this candid with his comments, but his description of the infamous deal goes further along the lines of "they made me" than he did even soon after his resignation/firing in 2003.
My favorite three stories Pete shared with me about his time as Hawks GM:
1. The Dominique Wilkins deal
2. The 2001 draft
3. The JR Rider fiasco
Read the Pearlman Q&A and see why I always pulled for Pete as Hawks GM -- he was a very knowledgeable dude who just couldn't get the Hawks over the hump despite pulling in some pretty great players in the 90's -- even if his draft record, as his successor's, was not as good.
Exit Challenge: Then, come back here and comment about it -- and see if you can say something nice about Pete.
(Thanks to Jeff Pearlman for reaching out to us and making us aware of this interview)