Classic Moment: Shareef Drops 50 After Thanksgiving
Hawks Classic Moment: ‘Reef’ Drops 50
by Jon Newberry
Talk about a night to be thankful for…
A day after delivering turkeys to needy families in the Atlanta area, Shareef Abdur-Rahim turned in a historical performance, scoring 50 points to set a Hawks’ record at Philips Arena that still stands today. He finished 21-of-30 from the field as Atlanta posted a stirring 106-99 comeback victory over the visiting Detroit Pistons.
Abdur-Rahim had upwards of 40 friends and family in attendance on the day after Thanksgiving, but through the first half, it did not look good for the home team. Atlanta trailed by 16 at halftime, despite 22 points from Shareef, and trailed by as many as 18 early in the second half. That is when “Reef” stepped it up a notch.
Abdur-Rahim scored 18 points in the third quarter to give him 40 for the game, and while the Hawks still trailed by 10, it forced the Pistons to change their defensive scheme.
“The groove I was in, I felt like something good was going to happen,” Shareef said after the game. “Either they were going to double me and I’d find one of my teammates, or I was going to score.”
Indeed, there wasn’t much that Detroit could do to stop the Hawks in the fourth quarter. As they ran multiple defenders at Abdur-Rahim he still got his points (10 in the fourth) and facilitated a 34-point outburst that saw Atlanta turn an 82-72 deficit into a 106-99 victory. To go along with his 50 points, Shareef also chipped in with 12 rebounds, five assists, two steals and a block in the contest.
“You have to take your hat off to him,” Rick Carlisle, then head coach of the Pistons, said after the game. “We’ve got a couple of forwards that are really fine defensive forwards, and he just rose to a different level.”
It would be the best night of Shareef Abdur-Rahim’s career, and to do it in front of family and friends made it even more special.
“You get in rhythms like these sometimes,” he said. “To do this in front of family and friends, it’s beautiful.”
Shareef was born and raised in the Atlanta suburbs, attending Wheeler High School in Marietta, Ga., before playing collegiately for the Golden Bears of the University of California. He has always made a point to give back to his hometown. Over the years he has donated over 5,000 turkeys to families in need throughout the Atlanta metro area.
Thanksgiving in 2001 was no different. “Reef” joined a host of volunteers, including his father William, dropping off turkeys throughout the city before making one final stop at the Lost Boys Foundation on Auburn Avenue. There he received an assist by actress Jane Fonda, who provided the vegetables, desert and beverages.
Overall, it was a Thanksgiving that Atlanta fans had plenty to be thankful for, both on and off the court.