When it’s NBA season, the stars come out. Especially in Atlanta, where the constant vibration of sports, entertainment and culture make Atlanta Hawks basketball a must-see attraction in the city. It’s not uncommon to see celebrities and All-Stars from every sport lining the seats of State Farm Arena to catch Trae Young and the boys hit the hardwood.
On Thursday night, the 8-3 Atlanta Hawks defeated the Philadelphia 76ers (104-95) and there was a Money Michael Harris II sighting in celebrity row. Bally Sports caught up with the Atlanta Braves’ phenom, who was in Double AA when the 2021 season started and is now one of MLB’s superstars and a torch bearer for the resurgence of Black baseball excellence.
“I never expected to be courtside and trading jerseys with an Atlanta Hawks player. To be able to do that is unreal,” Harris told a Bally Sports reporter.
The 21-year-old rookie hit The Bigs by storm and was a catalyst in helping the Braves catch the New York Mets in the National League East and eventually win the division. Harris flexed his five tools and exhibited a veteran’s poise in his 114 games of work, posting an offensive stat line of .297/.339/.853, 19 home runs, 64 RBI, 20 stolen bases, 135 OPS+, 8 DRS, 5.3 WAR.
“It was a pretty quick season, everything happened so fast. From being called up to the contract,” said Harris, who signed an 8-year/$72 million deal, just three months after he touched ground in Atlanta. I just really know that it’s a blessing.”
For his efforts, Money Mike is one of three finalists for the National League Rookie of the Year award, along with his teammate, pitcher Spencer Strider (31 games, 20 starts, 131.2 IP, 11-5, 2.67 ERA, 202 SO, 45 BB, 153 ERA+, 3.7 WAR) and St, Louis Cardinals Utility Man, Brendan Donovan.
It’s really a two-man race between Harris and Strider, who are good friends.
“We joked about it all season,” Harris said. “I feel like we both know we…will finish first and second in the Rookie of the Year voting, so I’m rooting for him and he’s rooting for me and we’re just waiting to see.”