HE didn't resort to the same degree of name-calling but Illawarra coach Brian Goorjian claims the Hawks have gotten under the skin of arch-rivals Sydney in a pre-season war of words.
Few people know as much about the Hawks-Kings rivalry as Goorjian, who's often sighted his battles as coach of Sydney against a Brendan Joyce-led Illawarra through his famous three-peat era at Kingdome.
Goorjian's typically a genial character but the six-time championship-winner fired back at Paul Smith after the Kings owner labeled the Hawks "scumbags" and "idiots" in a recent radio interview.
"We're under their skin," Goorjian told the NBL's The Huddle podcast.
"All I know is this is a new franchise, we're starting a new thing and that was our deal [last season], let's go up the road and smack their front teeth in, get our hand on their jugular.
"We've got to be top [in NSW] before anything else and we went in there and we beat their ass on their court. Then we went into Melbourne and got them again.
"When they came down here [in the final game] and beat us we shook their hand said 'now, go watch us on TV. The finals are coming and you're not in'. It's 1-0 the Gong right now."
It should be noted Wollongong-raised Smith has made his not insubstantial coin in the sports marketing field, but it sets up an interesting 'Freeway Series' that tips off on December 11.
Goorjian - who coached the club previously known as the 'Violet Crumbles' to its three championships - hopes the barbs keep coming.
"I love it and I love Paul Smith, I think [the rivalry] needs that," Goorjian said.
"The basketball I've been in in this is when the [South East Melbourne] Magic and [Melbourne] Tigers were on each others' jugular. We packed that place.
"It was electric at our place (the WEC) when they got us and you have to be competitive to have a rivalry. Last year we got them and we got to the playoffs.
"Now we've got something going. I hope he keeps talking and I hope the stadium's full.
"When they come down here and and bring their gun, we're going to have a cannon waiting for them."