Newspaper article International New York Times

On Atlanta Hawks Flights, All-Out Games of Uno Reign

Newspaper article International New York Times

On Atlanta Hawks Flights, All-Out Games of Uno Reign

Article excerpt

The favored in-flight pastime of a group of players including Al Horford, Kent Bazemore and Dennis Schroder is a children's game with added twists.

Lamar Patterson was new to the Atlanta Hawks when he discovered several teammates playing a popular card game at training camp. Patterson asked if he could join them. He thought he knew the rules.

"I'm sitting down with these guys for the first time, and I play all the time, you know what I'm saying?" Patterson, a reserve shooting guard, said before a recent game here. "But they were all like, 'No, see, we play this way, with the Draw 2s and the Draw 4s from the extra decks. We lay the heat.' And I was like, 'Wow."'

The Hawks were laying the heat -- playing Uno, the colorful card game favored by countless schoolchildren and, yes, by a group of millionaires aboard the Hawks' private plane.

"Uno," forward Kent Bazemore said, "is always a thrill."

The Hawks, like many professional sports teams, have a lot of free time to kill, much of it spent on airplanes. Some of the players keep busy by watching movies. Many sleep. Others play cards, a popular pastime for athletes who are competitive by nature.

Yet the Hawks' card game of choice might come as a surprise. Teammates who have resisted the urge to wade into the Uno fray know enough to keep a safe distance.

"They get serious," guard Justin Holiday said. "Real serious."

It all started innocently enough when Jeff Teague, the starting point guard, brought a deck of Uno cards on a trip last season. He gradually recruited several teammates -- Bazemore, center Al Horford and guards Kyle Korver and Dennis Schroder -- to start participating in a regular game.

The conventional objective -- first player to get rid of all his cards wins -- was enough to keep them interested, but they soon wanted to spice things up. So Bazemore and Schroder hatched the idea of adding some of the more notorious cards from at least two other decks -- all the Draw 2s, Wild Draw 4s, Reverses and Skips. The game was born anew.

"I think everyone should play it that way, because it's no-holds- barred," Bazemore said. "It's the W. …

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