ATLANTA (AP) - Center Johan Petro rushed back to Atlanta to start for the Hawks in Game 4 of the playoffs against the Indiana Pacers after witnessing the birth of his first child.
Jacob Petro was born at about 2 p.m. Monday at a hospital in the Miami area. After being assured that his child and wife were doing fine, the new father hopped on a private plane sent by the Hawks owners.
He arrived at Philips Arena about two hours before tipoff and made his second straight start as the Hawks attempted to tie the series at two games apiece.
“Crazy,” Petro said in the locker room beforehand. “That’s definitely the word to explain it. I didn’t get much sleep. But I was very anxious to be part of that experience yesterday _ uhh, I mean, this morning.”
He just shook his head.
“I don’t even know when it was,” said Petro, a glazed look in his eyes. He was also a bit confused about the baby’s weight, giving it as “7 pounds, 20 ounces.”
The 7-footer made his first start of the series in Game 3 Saturday night, part of a bigger lineup that helped carry the Hawks to a resounding 90-69 victory. The Hawks were eager to keep that lineup intact after it had so much success.
“Obviously with the change to a big lineup, we seemed to play very well,” coach Larry Drew said. “So we’ll go back to that.”
Drew was concerned about Petro’s condition.
“It’s got to be a very tiring experience,” the coach told reporters. “All of you that have kids and have experienced that _ being at the birth of kid and being at the hospital with your better half _ it can be very tiring. And he had to travel, a plane ride down and a plane ride back. I asked how he’s feeling and he said, `I’m ready to go.’ I’ll take his word.”
Petro would’ve stayed with his wife, Vanessa, if the birth had occurred later. There was no way he was going to miss the birth of his first child.
“But the timing was just perfect,” he said. “I had a chance to see it, then get back here. I got the OK from my wife. She’s in good health, the baby’s good. She said, `You know what, I’m OK. My mom’s here. You’re good to go.’”
Petro wasn’t sure how effective he would be.
“I will give 100 percent,” he said. “I don’t know what that it is, but I will give whatever I have. I know how big this game is, especially at home. Whatever I have in the tank, that’s what I’m going to give out.”