Jon Cooper - Mo Evans is The Charm

The Charm
Mo Evans reflects on his career-long Playoff run.

By Jon Cooper

Mo Evans does little to call attention to himself.

It takes that kind of selflessness to be able to run with, and almost hide from, a playoff career like his, which is as improbable as it is remarkable.

The 2010 Playoffs marked Evans' sixth straight postseason appearance. That's interesting, but hardly a big deal. It's the way, and more to the point, with whom he has made these appearances, that raises eyebrows.

He's made it with five different teams (Sacramento, where he teamed with current Hawks point Mike Bibby, Detroit, the Lakers, Orlando, and the Hawks), and not until this season had he made it with the same team in two consecutive postseasons.

"I've been fortunate, every year of my career," said Evans, who will play in his 48th career Playoff game Saturday night in Milwaukee in Game Three of the first-round series. "Even when I was in Europe I was in the Playoffs."

His stint in Europe came in 2002, following his release by the Minnesota Timberwolves, for whom he played 10 games during the 2001-02 season (he missed 66 games due to injury/illness).

Yet, like a cat, he landed on his feet, over the next two years, playing in Greece, with Olympiacos, then in Italy, with Benetton, both competitors for their respective league championships.

He came back to the States in time for the 2004-05 season, signing as a free agent with Sacramento, and has been a postseason regular every year since. The only question, prior to this year, was, where he would play his home games come playoff time.

Evans' playoff streak might have remained a sidelight were it not for the arrival in Atlanta of teammate Jamal Crawford, who had been the holder of the record for most career games played without a postseason appearance.

"I'm appreciative to be able to play in the playoffs and I don't take it for granted at all," he said. "I know there are guys like Jamal, who haven't been able to experience that year in and year out like I have."

He's not one to question his good fortune and would rather not calculate the odds he's defied not only in avoiding ending his season after only 82 games, but in avoided being sent to lower-tier or even borderline teams that eventually fell from contention (He's been dealt twice, from Detroit to the Lakers on Draft Day, 2006, and from the Lakers to Orlando on Nov. 20, 2007).

"I guess at some point you have to say that maybe you are a good player if you're able to contribute on playoff teams and be on teams that get there," he conceded. "I've always been on teams that have been good, high-seeded teams, (he's been on a one, two No. 3s, a four, a six and a seven), teams that have really worked hard and accomplished a lot of great things.

"When I played in Orlando, we hadn't won the division in 12 years and we hadn't gone to the second round in like 11 or 12 years. All those type things," he added. "I get the same sense of accomplishment here because we hadn't done a lot of these great things in a long time."

Things such as winning the franchise's first playoff series since 1999 and recording its first Game Seven win since 1961, both done last season. This year Atlanta put together its first 50-win season since 1997-98 and, in the current series against the Bucks, earned the first 2-0 lead in a best-of-seven series since 1969-70.

Evans sees no reason for the Hawks to stop now.

"We've got a great mixture here in Atlanta of youth and athleticism, scorers and defenders and a mixture of talent that can go really far," he said. "When I played in Detroit and we went to the Eastern Conference Finals, that team had more veteran savvy with Rasheed [Wallace] and Rip [Hamilton] and Chauncey [Billups] and Ben Wallace and all these guys who were really confident and had been there and had success year in and year out, like Antonio McDyess.

"We've got guys who haven't quite experienced that yet but have the same talent level and can get there. So maybe, like those PIstons when they first did it, maybe we can get there."

So is he a good luck charm?

"I hope so," he said and smiled. "I'm competitive, I like playing in the playoffs, and I want to keep that streak alive.

Jon Cooper is a freelance writer based in Atlanta.