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Sports

April 24, 2008

Mismatch made in heaven

On Pro Basketball

Bill Burt

BOSTON — Welcome to Boston, Mike Bibby.

On a team loaded with kids, at least in NBA terms, it was an alleged "cagey" veteran, with more NBA pedigree than every player on the floor combined, who obliterated any small chance of a good game last night.

The day before, Bibby called Celtics fans front-runners and bandwagon jumpers.

Now if he said that about Bruins fans, 18,000 Greater Bostonians probably would have bought it. This week, the Bruins went from fighting the New England Revolution for support to nearly becoming a major attraction again.

Bibby, the oldest regular on the Hawks at 29, was supposed to be the calming influence Atlanta needed. Acquired by the Hawks on Feb. 16 in a trade with the Sacramento Kings, he has been just that for most of the last 10 weeks.

The Hawks average age of 24.2 years old is third youngest in the league. They have the foundation of some good young talent with Joe Johnson (26), Al Horford (21) and Josh Smith (22) to work with.

But Bibby paid dearly for his insinuation.

"He doesn't know these fans because they were here rooting for us last year when we were losing 18 in a row," said Bibby's counterpart at point guard, Rajon Rondo. "Sure, we have more fans now, but they've always been supportive. I know they've been supportive of me."

Bibby's comments had nothing to do with the result, a relatively easy 96-77 win. These Celtics are in a refuse-to-lose mode, Big Three or no Big Three, but Bibby's mouth basically laid the foundation for a very uncomfortable evening.

In the 25 years I've been in this business, I have never seen a player razzed like he was last night.

"It was 48 minutes of hell (for him)," said Hawks rookie, Acie Law, another player with decent upside in this league. "He heard it the entire game, whether he was on the floor or on the bench."

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