Atlanta • Jamaal Tinsley had not been to Atlanta before, and therefore he had not been to Friedman's, the shoe store famous for having large sizes available in designer brands.
"The first time going to Atlanta," the Jazz point guard said, "I see Shaq in there buying size 23 shoes."
You know what they say about guys with big shoes. Big contracts.
If any city should have a store tailored to a clientele with plus-sized hooves, Atlanta is a good one. It has become one of the most popular retreats and cities to live in among NBA players, most of whom require boat-sized dress shoes.
"That is one thing guys look forward to going there," Jazz assistant Sidney Lowe said, "and they'll buy big shoes."
The Jazz, who play the Hawks on Friday at Philips Arena, employ at least six players or coaches with ties to the city.
Tinsley has a home here, Kevin Murphy and Derrick Favors are Atlanta natives, and injured small forward Marvin Williams played the first seven years of his career with the Hawks before being traded to the Jazz last summer.
Lowe and head coach Tyrone Corbin both played in Atlanta. Television analyst and former Jazz forward Matt Harpring is a native, attended Georgia Tech and is a full-time resident.
"It was just a great city to be in," said Corbin, who played for the Hawks for four seasons in two stints.
While the Hawks are consistently in the bottom quarter of NBA teams in attendance, their city is a magnet for players.
Harpring remembers pickup games consisting of mostly NBA players, but also some with European and college experience.
"Some of the time there was a lot of All-Stars," Harpring said, "and we were playing in the gym with no one watching. And it's like, where are the people? They should be watching this. There were some battles."
Tinsley knew exactly what Harpring was talking about.
"It's always good run in Atlanta," he said. "You've got guys that's from Atlanta, you've got guys that played at Georgia Tech, you've got guys that always come to Atlanta."
Arguably the capital of the South and the nation's ninth-largest metropolitan area according to the 2010 census, Atlanta is a diverse city known for its nightlife and fair weather. It's paradise for young, rich athletes in search of a laid-back urban existence.
"It's not as big as like L.A. or New York," Favors said. "But it's big enough."
Atlanta ranks in the top 10 cities in terms of number of players it has produced, and in addition to Favors and Murphy, claims notables such as Dwight Howard, Louis Williams and MarShon Brooks, as well as one-time Jazz guard Shandon Anderson.
"It was great seeing all the guys that came out of Atlanta and made it to the pros," said Murphy, the rookie guard who rejoined the Jazz this week after six weeks in the D-League.
The number of players who make Atlanta their offseason home is even greater.
"When you have cities where a lot of NBA players are living," Marvin Williams said, "it makes it easier for guys to stay there."
Williams, who is from the Seattle area, said he will keep his condo in Atlanta, despite spending most of his summers in Chapel Hill, N.C., where he attended college at the University of North Carolina.
"I really enjoyed Atlanta," said Williams, who will not play Friday. "I loved the city, loved the area, the people down there are awesome. I just think it's a good city all around."
Jazz at Hawks
P Friday, 5:30 p.m.
TV • ROOT
Jazz ties to Atlanta
Marvin Williams • Injured small forward was drafted No. 2 overall by the Hawks in 2005.
Derrick Favors • Power forward attended South Atlanta High School and Georgia Tech.
Jamaal Tinsley • Backup point guard lives primarily in Atlanta.
Tyrone Corbin • Head coach played 277 games for the Hawks in two stints, first in 1994-95, then from 1996 to 1999.
Sidney Lowe • Assistant coach played 15 games with the Hawks in 1984-85.
Matt Harpring • Former Jazz forward and broadcaster attended nearby Marist High School and Georgia Tech; he lives in Atlanta.
Jazz at Hawks
P At Philips Arena (Atlanta)
Tipoff • Friday, 5:30 p.m.
TV • ROOT
Radio • 1280 AM, 97.5 FM
Records • Utah 19-18; Atlanta 20-14
Season series • First matchup
About the Jazz • Former Hawks forward Marvin Williams will not play due to inflammation in his right knee. ... The Jazz are 1-4 in games without Williams, including Wednesday's 112-102 win over Charlotte. ... The Jazz lost 139-133 in four overtimes last season in Atlanta.
About the Hawks • Former Jazz point guard Devin Harris returned to the lineup Wednesday after missing 11 games with a foot injury. ... Center Al Horford is fifth in the NBA with 18 double-doubles. He averages 15.8 points and 9.6 rebounds per game.