Together Again
Former Georgia Tech teammates Anthony Morrow and Isma'il Muhammad are reunited at Hawks training camp.

By Jon Cooper

It seems like a long time ago in a place far, far away, that Anthony Morrow and Isma'il Muhammad shared a special bond that only pupil and mentor can.

Actually, it was eight years ago and only about four miles away, at Georgia Tech. Back then, Muhammad, the explosive forward, was the one showing Morrow, the hot-shot guard, the ropes.

That year made an indelible impression on Morrow.

"His support and the way he pushed me when I was at Tech, a lot of that stuff stuck with me throughout those years and really helped me and put me in the position I’m in now," he said. "I’m still really humbled about it and grateful to him for that."

Anthony MorrowMorrow was never sure how he'd pay the debt back.

Following the '04-05 season, Muhammad left and while the two stayed close, frequently working out together during summers, their professional paths seemed destined never to cross again.

Professionally, their situations dramatically turned around after each finished college. Morrow, a Charlotte, North Carolina native, who averaged 11.4 ppg while shooting .437 (.421 from three and a school-record .867 from the line, proved himself a bona-fide scorer on the NBA level. Although he was undrafted coming out of college, Morrow's hot shooting led Golden State to sign him as a free agent in 2008.

He rewarded the Warriors by becoming the first rookie in NBA history to lead the league in three-point shooting, hitting a scorching .467, with 86 three-point field goals. He played in Northern California one more year and was then traded to New Jersey. He'd play two seasons there before the Hawks and Nets made the their July 11th trade that sent Morrow, DeShawn Stevenson, Johan Petro, Jordan Farmar, Jordan Williams, a 2013 first-round draft pick and a 2017 second-round pick to Atlanta for Joe Johnson.

When training camp opened, there was Muhammad, who was signed to the training camp roster on Oct. 3.

They were teammates again, but this time with a twist.

This time, it is Morrow, a career .426 shooter from three, who has the experience and is showing Muhammad, the world-traveler, the ropes.

"It’s funny how things turn out," he said. "It’s just great to have him on the team and around. He’s always been somebody that could push me. He’s still pushing me in training camp."

Muhammad likes the reversal of fortunes.

"I’m learning a lot from Anthony now because he has four years in the League, so he’s a veteran," said the Atlanta native, who starred at W.D. Mohammed High School in Atlanta, before playing at Georgia Tech (2001 through 2005) then embarking on his pro ball career in various international locales. "It’s that big brother-little brother thing. The younger brother outgrows the big brother sometimes. That’s how it is with me and Anthony now. But it’s all good. We have a great relationship."

Morrow believes it's all good being back in Atlanta.

"I was living here last summer. So it’s like a second home to me," he said. "It’s going to be fun coming in and playing in front of all those Tech fans, all the fans from Atlanta that remember me from Tech. I’m just really excited.”

He expects to be just as “at home” on the court.

"Definitely my game is shoot and score but also show that I can do more than just shoot the ball," he said. "Obviously, you have to take the challenge defensively first and foremost. Defensively, it’s a whole new outlook here on

this team. We’re taking it seriously. We can’t just be up-tempo offensively. We’ve got to be up-tempo defensively. It’ll be a good opportunity for everybody on the team."
Isma'il MuhammadAnd he hopes that team includes Muhammad.

Up-tempo had been Muhammad's game at Georgia Tech, where he was an explosive presence helping the Yellow Jackets to the 2004 National Championship game. His highlight-reel dunks made him a fixture on ESPN's top plays.

But he now faces a battle similar to the one Hawks forward Josh Smith faced early on in his career — trying to escape being pigeon-holed as just a dunker. Muhammad is okay with the reputation.

"It’s tough, but that comes with basketball. Most times people know a player for one thing," he said. "It’s one of those things you deal with. When you do something that catches people's eye, that’s all they know you for, but it’s alright. It’s better to be known for something than not known for anything."

Muhammad would like people to remember that even when he was establishing his rep as an electrifying dunker, he also was a hard-nosed defender. That tenacity hasn't diminished and he hopes will open a door for him with the Hawks.

"This team has so many scorers right now, I feel I bring a different element with my defense," he said. "I can be one of those guys that defends every position, kind of be a defensive stopper. You want to show guys that you do have some skill and you can make shots but when it’s time to play you get in your role, say, ‘This is what I do best. I’m a defensive stopper, I’m a rebounder and I play hard and that’s what I’m going to stick to.’"

Morrow believes that there is a spot for his "big brother."

"He’s one of the hardest working guys I’ve ever been on a team with," said Morrow. "I’m still learning things from him defensively."

Muhammad didn't see action in the Hawks' exhibition opener against the Miami Heat, and doesn't know how long he'll stick with the club, but is planning to make the most of his time. After playing in so many foreign lands, lacing 'em up in his own back yard, obviously, has tremendous appeal.

"It is a good situation because I’m from here, I went to school here at Georgia Tech, and I still live in Atlanta during the off-season," he said. "My family’s here. So it would be great if I could get on the team."

Morrow, the pupil-turned-teacher, will do his part.

"I’m still trying to help him any way I can," he said. "I’m really happy to see him here. I think he has a great chance of making the team. I’m just praying that he makes it."