Air Jordan 1 playoffs since 1999, weren't exactly what he had in mind. By acquiring Bibby, though, inexperienced, point-guard-deficient Atlanta got just what it needed to end that drought.
At 30, Bibby lacks the speed he had in guiding the Kings to five straight postseason appearances and within a game of the 2002 Finals. But he still knows how to run a club. With him as the primary ball handler the Hawks' scoring average increased from 94.8 points to 103.5, and they extended the Celtics to Air Jordan 3 seven games in the first round.
Bibby's biggest contribution to that series, however, came off the court, when he called out Celtics fans for being "bandwagon jumpers" and drew the ire of the TD Banknorth Garden crowds. "He took the pressure off these young players who had never been to the playoffs and put it all on himself," says coach Mike Woodson. "He helped our guys relax and play."
Despite his positive impact on the franchise, Bibby may find himself on the move again come the February trade deadline. If he or the team is playing poorly, his expiring $14.5 million salary will be too valuable a Air Jordan 2 bargaining chip for the Hawks not to use.
Wherever he finishes the season, Bibby wants to prove that he's fully recovered from a torn left-thumb ligament he suffered last October. "I'm going into my 11th year," he says, "but people who really know basketball know that I can still play. Everyone is going to see that this year."