Less Dollars Makes More Sense

Less Dollars Makes More Sense

As I woke up Sunday morning an emotional hot mess, I realized that I wasn’t alone. No I am not referring to my insomnia-suffering pregnant wife, but a significant portion of the Brooklyn Nets‘ fan base. Brooklyn’s decision not to resign Paul Pierce to what appeared to be a bargain price of $5.5 million per season is what triggered these feelings of frustration, confusion, and anger amongst many.  After all, these are Mikhail Prokhorov’s Nets.  We don’t look at price tags when we go shopping.  At least that’s been the mentality we’ve all grown accustomed to. After letting it sink in, the decision to let Pierce walk started to make sense.

The decision not to retain their veteran leader contradicted the philosophy in how the Nets have done business since leaving The Garden State.  This wasn’t a gradual change but a complete one-eighty shift overnight.  The Nets don’t appear willing to spend at will anymore and are preaching fiscal responsibility.

It is my belief that what upsets many Nets fans was not the decision to let Pierce walk without making an offer, but the trade made with the Boston Celtics a year ago.  At the time the Nets felt they were a player or two away from seriously contending for an NBA title.  They went all in when they mortgaged the future for a chance to add Kevin Garnett and Pierce to the roster.  Those two were going to provide the necessary leadership and experience that would elevate Brooklyn into the upper echelon of the league.

It was an enormous risk, yet many were thrilled at the time.  Remember, hindsight is always 20/20.  No one could have foreseen the bad luck the Nets would endure throughout the season in the injury department.  Clearly finishing as a sixth seed only to last five games in the second round was not what Billy King and company envisioned when the “Boston heart transplant” became official.

The championship pedigree was only able to elevate Brooklyn to the 2nd round.

The championship pedigree was only able to elevate Brooklyn to the 2nd round.

To now switch to a corporate philosophy of being more financially responsible makes you wonder why the deal was even made in the first place.  From an outsider’s perspective, they got caught up in the moment with their “All In” campaign. It’s as if no one considered how this deal would shake up in terms of costs for the 2014-15 season and beyond.

Irresponsible? Yes, but once again, a chance to go for it now certainly made fans excited. Now the Nets organization and their fans can only hope that this deal doesn’t become the NBA equivalent to the now infamous “Herschel Walker Trade”, when the Minnesota Vikings paid the Dallas Cowboys a king’s ransom which provided Dallas with the future assets to assemble their dynasty during the 1990s. Walker’s tenure with Minnesota was certainly a disappointment and the lopsided deal won’t ever be forgotten by football fans.

Although it is doubtful that any Nets officials will admit that the trade with Boston was a colossal failure, their actions now seem to reflect that sentiment.  It’s a harsh reality to accept, but perhaps the ownership and management realized that this team with Pierce is not on a championship level.  Could they compete in the East? Yes.  Could they contend for a title? Probably not.

Like anything else in life, you can’t dwell on past mistakes and must remain focused on the future.  There is no doubt that the deal was a mistake and will only make the Nets the punch line for jokes by sports pundits and fans for years to come.  The key is not to compound any problems, and maybe signing Pierce could’ve been just that.  Did you know that if the Nets had signed Pierce to the exact contract offered by the Washington Wizards, it would have cost the franchise $22M, or about the same salary as LeBron James?  Now be honest with yourself, would adding Pierce make the Nets a legitimate contender for the upcoming season?

Yes, Piece was productive and played a key role in helping the Nets salvage their season and advance to the second round of the playoffs, but he is also turning 37 this year.  What happens if Father Time really catches up with him this season?  He had his signature moments during the regular and postseasons, but he also had those forgettable ones too. How much of a disaster would it be if the Nets are paying an excess of $20M to a player who struggles to defend his opponent and his scoring production continues to plummet?  It was Branch Rickey who famously said, “Trade a player a year too early rather than a year too late.”

Obviously there was no trade involved with Pierce’s departure from Brooklyn.  Had they resigned him where would he play?  He did look old and slow while manning the small forward position during the first half of the season.  Would it be ideal to play him alongside Brook Lopez as a stretch four, and if so who’s rebounding? Can’t the Nets get the same 13 point, 5 rebound production from Andrei Kirilenko and/or Mirza Teletovic?

Perhaps an extended role for Teletovic can yield similar production.

Perhaps an extended role for Teletovic can yield similar production.

I totally get that it’s not our money and Mikhail Prokhorov’s bank account seems unlimited, but I am willing to bet that you don’t become one of the wealthiest men in the world by overspending for depreciating assets.  As much as he wants to win, owning a team is still a business and I doubt that he or any other owner would be accepting of losing substantial money.  No one can accuse him of being cheap as he spent upwards of $190M this past year, something the sports world hadn’t seen since George Steinbrenner.  The difference is the Yankees made a profit, whereas the Nets recently lost $144M according to recent reports.

Trust me when I say that I am just as much disappointed that this deal didn’t work out and the Nets have appeared to have dug themselves a hole in terms of the future.  It may seem that they opted for Jarrett Jack over Pierce, but perhaps it was more about obtaining a young asset in Sergey Karasev.  They have given away a lot in recent deals, so recouping some youth seems to be a top priority now and will hopefully help them retool for the future.

The trade ended up as a bust and although it’s not easy, it’s time to turn the page.  As a fan, I appreciate the efforts made in recent years but I respect the change in direction.  Successful organizations don’t operate the way the Nets have in recent years.  Hopefully the Nets have learned their lesson and will make more sound, responsible decisions moving forward.

An Adult is Now in Charge

This time around, the red carpet wasn’t rolled out. The press conference didn’t need to take place on the main stage within the Barclays Center. The press room would suffice. After all, this event was about substance, not style.

In hiring Lionel Hollins, the Brooklyn Nets went in a different direction from where they were a year ago. The organization took a risk with Jason Kidd and was ultimately burned by the player the fan base had grown to love. It appears now we have someone who wants to be here and this isn’t just a stepping stone for the next quick promotion.

In listening to Hollins speak during his introductory press conference as well as the sports-talk radio circuit, one thing is certain – he exudes professionalism. He showed his appreciation to front office and clearly respects the roles of his bosses. He admitted to being humbled by being out of the NBA last year and you can tell that he is genuinely grateful for the opportunity to coach this Nets team.

It took a few years, but the Nets finally appear to have their leader.

It took a few years, but the Nets finally appear to have their leader.

You get the impression that the Nets won’t have worry about being embarrassed by the actions of their new leader. I am not referring to the misdemeanor charges unrelated to basketball, but the shenanigans Kidd displayed last year – the abrupt reassignment of Lawrence Frank, “Soda-Gate”, and then the attempted power play against Billy King which ultimately cost him his job.

With Hollins the Nets now have a coach who has paid his dues throughout his coaching career including: assistant roles, interim tags, and brief stints with the USBL and IBL. He admitted to being low maintenance and was embarrassed by the billboards and attention drawn to his hiring. He is a man who knows who he is and declared that it isn’t about him, but the players.

I believe I’m a leader.”

A year ago, the Nets saw the need for a heart transplant when the Chicago Bulls eliminated them in a decisive Game 7 on their own home court. The trade for Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce was in theory supposed to fill this void and make the Nets a tougher team. It helped to some degree, but there is definitely room for more growth.

With any organization, sports or not, the tone is always set from the top. Your identity comes from your leader. It’s no wonder why the Bulls or Spurs seem to play the same no matter who’s on the roster. In Hollins, the Nets have a coach whose goal is cultivate a tough mentality and develop leadership qualities within the players. After all, his Memphis team’s mantra was “Grit and Grind”. Should Pierce and Garnett return to Brooklyn, Hollins would have two representatives on the court and in the locker room who will help him carry out his mission.

Throughout the last few weeks, Hollins has been unfairly labeled as someone who’s unable to adjust his style of coaching and that his system is antiquated by today’s standards. Since his hiring, he has made it clear that it was the Grizzlies personnel which dictated that slower pace of play. It was what made them successful, and I am sure very few people in Memphis were unsatisfied with the results. He also cited that in Vancouver they played more up-tempo with Mike Bibby and Shareef Abdur-Rahim on a roster which also included Bryant Reeves.

Hollins admitted that having a year off allowed him to view the game differently and in assessing the team, he wants to play at a quicker pace in comparison to how the Nets played last season. He even referenced that his former mentor, Cotton Fitzsimmons, always said that “you can never have too many shooters”.

For Nets fans fearful that his hiring means the end of Mirza Teletovic, think again. This roster has the ability to stretch the floor with their outside shooting and if Hollins is true to his word, it’s unlikely that he will try to shove a square peg into a round hole.

Nets fans can only hope Hollins can elevate Brook Lopez's game as he did with Marc Gasol's.

Nets fans can only hope Hollins can elevate Brook Lopez’s game much like what he did with Marc Gasol’s.

An old-school coach doesn’t necessarily mean to a return to the Avery Johnson era. Johnson’s micromanaging ways earned him the nickname “The Little General” or “The Little Dictator” to the players who weren’t as fond. It didn’t bode well that the “dictatorship” comment came from the likes of Dirk Nowitzki.

Hollins may be tough and demanding but there seems to be a difference between him and Johnson. Where Johnson was a type-A personality, Hollins doesn’t seem rigid to that extent. His former players admitted the difficulty of his training camps, but they understood the purpose and saw the benefit. To me, Hollins is that tough teacher you had who expected a lot and held you to a high standard, but you respected him for it. For some players on the Nets roster, that type of leader can hopefully bring out their best and further develop their talents.

Lionel Hollins may lack the pizzazz of Jason Kidd, but it appears the Nets are in a better place today than they were yesterday. Their new head coach wants to do just that – coach. He doesn’t appear to be the type that will let jealously control his actions, something we saw in Kidd when first-time head coaches (Steve Kerr, Derek Fisher) received more lucrative contracts and Stan Van Gundy was fully empowered in Detroit.

The Nets are now led by someone who had to take the long road to accomplish what he has. He has earned the opportunities presented to him rather than simply getting what he wanted on demand.

The Nets may have lost Kidd, but they’ve replaced him with an adult in Hollins.

Experience Should Count

The professional sports world is a unique industry. In any other profession, a resume featuring a track record of success is usually what gives you an advantage over a neophyte vying for the same job. Apparently that’s no longer the case in the NBA, as it’s become a place where experience is something that can be used against you.

Fans better get used to seeing not only ties but pocket squares.

Fans better get used to seeing not only ties but pocket squares.

Once the messy divorce was finalized with Jason Kidd, the Brooklyn Nets’ fan base seemed torn as to who would be the best man for the job- Lionel Hollins, Mark Jackson, and George Karl to name a few. All three are veterans who have achieved success over the years; however, each of them seems to have a blemish or two that discredits their coaching abilities.

As it appears that Billy King has found Kidd’s successor in Hollins, many Nets’ fans fear that this has disaster written all over it. Here are some of the things that I’ve read on the Twittersphere:

  • “This will be the second coming of Avery Johnson.”
  • “His style won’t work. He focuses too much on defense.”
  • “He is too old-school.”
  • “It won’t sit well with Deron and others.”
  • “There goes any chance of landing Durant in 2016.”

What’s ironic is that the same people who are trashing Hollins for being a tough, defensive-minded coach are probably the same people who put Tom Thibodeau and Jeff Van Gundy on pedestals. The last time I checked, those two weren’t exactly the types that place emphasis on offense and behave like Rex Ryan with their players. There’s no denying that Hollins is accomplished leader who experienced tremendous success with the Memphis Grizzlies, but for some fans out there it seems as if the Nets would’ve been better off by bringing Kiki Vandeweighe back.

Consider his last three regular seasons in Memphis:


Winning Percentage







There was steady improvement from one year to the next, and the Grizzlies’ success carried into the playoffs. In those three postseasons, Hollins led his teams to an 18-17 record, not bad against the “Group of Death” also known as the Western Conference. As the eighth seed in 2011, the Grizzlies stunned the top seeded Spurs in six games only to take the Thunder to seven games in the conference semi-finals. In 2013, Hollins guided Memphis to the Western Conference Finals where they were swept away by a superior San Antonio team.

Is Hollins the perfect coach? Of course he isn’t, but who is? There is only one Phil Jackson and Gregg Popovich. Hollins is a very good coach and is most likely an upgrade over our previous leader. It’s not a sexy hire but the Nets are better off with substance over style.

As Colin Cowherd recently alluded to following the NBA Draft, we tend to be critical of things we are familiar with. Perhaps that’s why teams shun four-year American college players and opt for the unknown foreigners. We obsess over their flaws and what they can’t do rather than focus on what they can do.

As for Hollins, we do know that he has had success in player development, especially with centers and power forwards. This would bode well for Brook Lopez, whose game still has room for growth, as well as Mason Plumlee.

As Tom Lorenzo mentioned in this article: http://www.netsdaily.com/2013/5/14/4329634/lionel-hollins-grizzlies-nets-head-coach-contract, Hollins is not exactly a players’ coach but his guys would “go to bat for him”. You would have to assume that savvy veterans like Joe Johnson, Andrei Kirilenko, Kevin Garnett, and Paul Pierce would respect his approach and support his vision.

I don’t get the impression that Hollins is another Avery Johnson. If you recall, Johnson was labeled a micro-manager and would often clash with his point guards. This dated back to his days in Dallas with Devin Harris and continued in Brooklyn with Deron Williams. Hollins may be old-school in his approach but to me he resembles that tough teacher you had who demanded a lot but you respected him for it. Watch this video and you will see his sideline demeanor, how he communicates, and how his players admire him as a person and coach.

I’ve heard the concerns that he won’t be able to coexist with Williams. Well, the Nets tried pairing their franchise point guard with his golf buddy as coach and that didn’t work out the way we all envisioned it, did it? This dismisses the notion that Deron needs a players’ coach to be effective. His best years were under the direction of Jerry Sloan, who was not exactly the “warm and fuzzy” type. The key for Deron is to be healthy and hopefully the surgeries he had this offseason will finally allow him to be just that.

For those out there that feel this ends any chance of Kevin Durant or other players signing with Brooklyn in the future, might I remind you of the summer of 2010 when we all had front row seats to both the Knicks and Nets striking out in their quest to win the free-agency sweepstakes. You can plan for the future but at the end of the day, you cannot predict what’s exactly going to transpire. There is just too much uncertainty and to bank on someone like Durant coming here two years from now is foolish. How did that go with LeBron and Dwight Howard? Build a winner and let the rest take care of itself. A successful ball club in the biggest market with the best arena will be enticing to free agents.

The Nets may have jumped into the swimming pool this time around without making a splash, but for a franchise that just got burned you can understand why. Assuming Pierce resigns and both Williams and Lopez return healthy, there’s no reason why the Nets cannot pick up where they left off last year and compete in the East.

Maybe the sky isn’t falling after all and the Nets got the guy they should have hired twelve months ago.


All Kidding Aside

Shocked? Angered? Embarrassed? Disappointed?

It was just over a year ago that many Brooklyn Nets fans, including myself, were jubilant over the hiring of Jason Kidd to be our next head coach. Although he had no experience in that role, fans alike were confident that our greatest player would figure things out quickly and be a success. After all, this was one of the most astute basketball minds to ever walk onto the court.

Then there were the elements of nostalgia…

If you’ve been a fan of the Nets as long as I have then you will certainly know that there have been more downs than ups. We aren’t a franchise rich in glory like the Los Angeles Lakers or Boston Celtics. The Kidd Era was our Golden Age and hiring him was a trip down memory lane. The team may play in a new state, but this move connected the present and future to the past.

Nets fans were thrilled to have Kidd leading them into the future.

A year ago Nets fans were thrilled to have Kidd leading them into the future.

People may cherish Drazen Petrovic, but the Nets only accomplished a first round appearance as the six seed in back-to-back seasons. With Kidd, the Nets advanced to two consecutive NBA Finals, which was truly a remarkable feat considering they were perennial cellar-dwellers. The fact that they lost to superior opponents doesn’t diminish the achievements of those Nets teams. Without him, the Nets would never have had those experiences, and for that reason he was adored by the fan base. Now you have to wonder if any fan will ever view him in a favorable light again, which is sad because Kidd was our iconic player. He was our Michael Jordan, our Karl Malone, our Reggie Miller.

I will be the first to admit that I was blinded by his greatness on the court and tended to look the other way with the transgressions and negativity associated with him. The fact of the matter is Jason Kidd clearly has a checkered past with a documented pattern of behavior – clashes with coaches as well as multiple arrests involving domestic abuse and driving while impaired. We were naïve to think that something like this wouldn’t happen again.

In a way he is a walking paradox, a selfless player who’s actually a selfish person. The player who was known for assisting others was the same player who led a team mutiny against his college coach, Lou Campanelli. The player who was a joy to watch was the same guy who had issues with Dick Motta in Dallas and Scott Skiles in Phoenix. The player who was the ultimate teammate was the same guy who abandoned his team while faking a migraine in an effort to get traded or receive a new contract.

There is no denying Kidd is a serial coach killer. Don’t believe me just ask Campanelli, Byron Scott, Lawrence Frank, and now Larry Drew. Plus you can’t forget about Jason Kidd! Yes, Kidd was able to get himself dismissed from Brooklyn, and assuming he ultimately gets the power he desires in Milwaukee, the coach who succeeds him there will most likely be on borrowed time as well.

Speaking of Scott, it was always preposterous that a coach who led his team to consecutive NBA Finals was fired the following season while his team was in first place. Yes, the Nets were underachieving (22-20) at the time he got fired but is it safe to assume that a cohesive, veteran group could have finished the 2003-04 season with a 25-15 record under Scott? Was it really all of Frank’s leadership that prompted a 14-game winning streak the moment he took over? Could things have been different had the superstar point guard been happier? Maybe, but we’ll never know.

If you recall, Kidd was openly critical of Scott’s work ethic and preparedness when he was in charge. What’s ironic now is that Kidd is “intrigued with the higher-paying, lower-workload life of an executive” according to Adrian Wojnarowski. It’s funny how things turn out sometimes.

Two of Kidd's biggest victims.

Two of Kidd’s unfortunate victims.

It’s a shame that our franchise’s beloved player has decided to burn his bridges with the organization that bent over backwards for him. As a player they treated the Kidds as the “First Family of the Nets”. Management bolstered the roster in signing friend Rodney Rogers as well as trading for Dikembe Mutombo in an effort to challenge for a title and satisfy their star.

Kidd responded to these efforts by flirting with the Spurs shortly after they eliminated the Nets in The Finals, putting fans and management on edge that the team’s savior would leave them. In the end, Kidd resigned with the New Jersey but his “loyalty” forced Rod Thorn into signing a defective Alonzo Mourning.

Ten years later when the Nets signed him to be their head coach, the organization went above and beyond to make sure that Kidd’s transition would be a smooth and successful one. Aside from handing him a star-studded roster, Mikhail Prokhorov’s spending spree extended to the bench where Kidd was given the green light to recruit his former coach and friend in Lawrence Frank to serve as his top assistant and mentor.

Despite the fact that he was the highest paid assistant, Kidd disposed his most trusted advisor not even twenty games into the season. Talk about a convenient scapegoat, just like those darn neckties. For someone that was supposed to be vital to Kidd’s transition, Frank was tossed away in humiliating fashion – reassigned to writing daily reports which sounded like a position more suited for someone breaking into the coaching profession rather than an established, respected coach.

We should have known better, but our fond memories blinded us from the reality of Jason Kidd. His monotone voice, even-keeled demeanor, and passive-aggressiveness in front of the cameras never suggested the fits of rage that have occurred behind the scenes. The facts are he does have character issues which have resulted in multiple arrests.  He has shown to be cold blooded with a lack of regard of how his actions affect others.  Could you say his extreme anger, jealousy, and thirst for power are sociopathic? It can’t be a good thing when your actions resemble something along the lines of either Patrick Bateman from American Psycho or Frank Underwood from House of Cards.

jason kidd mug shot 1jason kidd mug shot 2jason kidd drunk club

As a life-long fan of the Nets franchise, this certainly was a kick to the groin; however, I am proud that the organization didn’t cave into Kidd’s prima donna demands. I’d rather learn the truth of my once favorite player than see a team further enable and spoil an unqualified employee. The alternative wouldn’t have felt any better.

Kidd always had the gift of seeing things develop before they actually did, and obviously he envisioned himself sitting in a corner office in the near future rather the sidelines. Had he just been patient and achieved great results in his role as a coach, he would have eventually graduated to a more prominent role with them.

The Bucks will give Kidd what he wants, but it’s only a matter of time until he ditches Milwaukee for the next thing, history says so. Perhaps by that time most of the league will finally learn what they are getting with the future Hall of Fame point guard. This is who he is and it’s foolish to think that he will change.

Kidd always had something special in New Jersey and it was supposed to continue in Brooklyn. The face of the franchise is now one that fans want to forget as his legacy will now and forever be tarnished. He may now have the money and power in Milwaukee but it’ll be unlikely that he’ll earn the respect from his peers or fans around the NBA.

As this news broke late Saturday night, one thing is for certain – Jason Kidd was definitely left with egg on his face during Sunday brunch.  He will have even more if things don’t go according to plan with his new team.









An Old Hope

Help me Tony, Tim, and Ginobili. You’re my only hope.

It's desperate times for some NBA fans

It’s desperate times for some NBA fans

While the NBA Finals rematch between the San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat is likely to be an epic series, there is a lot on the line for a certain population of basketball fans nationwide. The people that I am referring to are the haters of the team residing in South Beach. A third consecutive title for the Heat could be the official beginning of a dark period for many NBA fans. Yes, you read that right and no I am not on drugs.

What once felt like Tyson-Ruddock was more like Tyson-Spinks this year.

What once felt like Tyson-Ruddock was more like Tyson-Spinks this year.

In watching Miami’s dismantling of the Eastern Conference one thing is clearly apparent, virtually no one can match up with the defending champions. Look at how the playoffs have played out thus far.

A season ago, Indiana felt that their two year progression had elevated them to their foe’s level. Not having home court in the decisive seventh game last year was perceived to be the ultimate difference maker and had the Pacers owned it, perhaps they would have advanced to The Finals. Equipped with the home court advantage this year and a deeper bench featuring CJ Watson, Evan Turner and Luis Scola made absolutely no difference as the Heat reminded everyone how wide the gap is between these two teams.

In my opinion, the window of opportunity for the Pacers to dethrone the Heat has closed. When you get the chance to knock out the champs in three consecutive years and fail, then you have all but proven that your squad cannot advanced past theirs. With big money invested in the current core of Paul George, Roy Hibbert, David West, and George Hill, fans of Indiana may have to get used to finishing a distant second for years to come.

It's tough to win when the two best players on the court are usually wearing the same uniform.

It’s tough to win when the two best players on the court are usually wearing the same uniform.

If not the Pacers, then who can pose the biggest threat to Miami’s dominance? The Nets? The Bulls? The Raptors? The Wizards? As hopeful as a fan can be, do you really think your team is suited to beat the Heat come post-season? Brooklyn fans, myself included, were proud that their five-game series defeat showed that the Nets could play competitively until the Heat decided to suffocate them with their defense during the closing minutes of the game. Is that really something to hang your hat on? Sad, isn’t it?

It’s not as if time will be the ultimate equalizer and eventually this Heat team will fall off due to old age. Both LeBron James and Chris Bosh are under the age of thirty, and although Dwyane Wade has endured a lot of wear and tear over the years, he still has the ability to unleash his superstar talents when healthy. Credit the Miami coaching staff for devising a part-time work schedule during the regular season to preserve Wade’s health for the post season.

The fact that the Bosh has openly admitted that he would consider a pay cut means that Miami’s Big Three will most likely stay intact for years to come. When they initially joined forces many wondered how they would fill out the rest of the roster. As we have now seen, established players in the “back nine” of their careers are willing to play for nothing for a chance to win the title. Obviously Ray Allen could play elsewhere for more money and when he ultimately retires there will be another former star or future Hall of Famer eager to take his spot.

If anything, time is having the opposite effect of equalizing things. Any elite competition that once existed for the Heat is dying off one by one – the Celtics, the Lakers, and soon enough the Spurs once Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili call it a career.

"I can't believe they're not covering me either."

“I can’t believe they’re not covering me either.”

Out of all the team sports, basketball is the one that closely resembles an individual one in that the best player usually wins. Opposing teams in baseball can pitch around the most dangerous hitter, who only gets four chances per game to make an impact. In football, a team playing a ball control offense can strategically reduce the amount of time an opposing offense can be on the field.

In basketball, someone as dominant as LeBron can play nearly every minute and have a major influence on every offensive possession. With a healthy Wade, Miami has two players that can command a double team. Factor in the consistent open looks from Bosh and Allen and you have an unstoppable offense. Think about that for a second! A top-tier player and arguably the best pure shooters in league history are afterthoughts on most possessions!

tim duncan manu parker

No other Big Three is as battle tested to withstand Miami’s arsenal.

Miami is the varsity team playing against the JV at this point. During The Big Three era in the postseason, the Heat has accumulated 58 wins with only 25 losses—against playoff competition! If your horse in the race isn’t Miami, you have to wonder what the point of even watching is.

Some NBA fans will fantasize that Oklahoma City can defeat them in a series, but haven’t you seen enough by now to realize that there’s something lacking from the Thunder? Would you really bet on Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Serge Ibaka over James, Wade, and Bosh if your life depended on it? I wouldn’t either.

The team that is capable of beating the champs will have their opportunity for redemption over the next few weeks. They are the ones with the championship pedigree, experience, depth, leadership. The Heat may have the best weapon(s), but the Spurs have the better army.

It’s now or never for these Spurs and a nation of desperate fans can only hope that San Antonio can win three more games.

What’s In A Name?

In being a fan of the Nets (both New Jersey and Brooklyn), I couldn’t help but notice that a certain surname has been very prevalent throughout the team’s history. If you’ve been following the team as long as I have, then the name Williams should ring a bell.  Just a few years ago, we witnessed four Williamses take the court at the same time – Deron, Shawne, Sheldon, and Jordan. Could an entire 12-man roster could be comprised of players with the same last name?

In the spirit of Throwback Thursday, I present to you the All-Williams Team.



williams deron



























Honorable Mention:

"Super" John Williamson

“Super” John Williamson





The Glass is Half Full

Since the season ended in disappointing fashion, there has been much discussion that the 2013-2014 Brooklyn Nets’ season was a colossal bust. After all, they did spend an unprecedented amount on payroll only to last five games into the second round. From afar, the end results were inadequate considering the star-studded lineup, but in actuality there was a much to like about the season as a whole.

Raise your hand if this image made you believe at the time that the Nets were going to win the 2014 championship.

Raise your hand if this image made you believe at the time that the Nets were going to win the 2014 championship.

Although the payroll figures were astronomical, the salaries of some players didn’t match the level of production nor expectations. Did Deron Williams produce like a max level point guard? Were Kevin Garnett’s averages of 6.5 points and 6.6 rebounds worthy of 12 million dollars? Was the 14.6 million allocated for 17 games of Brook Lopez the way Billy King envisioned it?

Yes the final bill was expensive, but in reality the Nets were paying more for what they were actually getting. To assume that spending top dollar for talent is a guarantee for success is foolish. In a bizarre way, the Nets were perhaps the most high-priced, unlikeliest underdog that the game has ever seen. Even though it ended with a bad taste in our mouths, the season could be deemed a success considering how it started.

So what was there to like about it?

The biggest success of this season was that the Nets have found their head coach in Jason Kidd. Of course things didn’t look too promising prior to New Year’s Day, but patience did pay off. How many other head coaches, especially a rookie, could right the ship when the season appeared on the brink of disaster? Ten games under .500, tension in the locker room, and losing your best offensive player would have been the kiss of death for most teams. Just like what he was able to do as a player,  Kidd’s innovative personality was able to figure out a winning formula.

In the process, the Nets developed toughness and resiliency, which we all know was sorely lacking from the season prior. Ask yourself, would this team recover from the poor start and Lopez’s injury had Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries been on the roster? Yes, having Pierce and Garnett helped in this department, but don’t discount the impact Kidd had as well.

Some were upset with Kidd’s rotations in the postseason, but from his body of work as a both a player and coach, I expect him to improve from this experience. From his leadership, the team was able to rally to force and win a Game 7 on the road in front of a hostile Toronto crowd. I don’t think last year’s squad would have been up for the challenge. Do you?

Make no mistake, this is now Joe's team.

Make no mistake, this is now Joe’s team.

Another thing to like about the season was that the Nets have finally appeared to have found their identity. This has been a constant issue dating back to last year, but now it is apparent that this is Joe Johnson’s team. He may not be the vocal leader that people want, but his cool demeanor on the court perfectly aligns with Kidd’s from the sidelines. Even with Lopez’s return next year, the offense should continue to operate through the talented, versatile Johnson.

There’s no denying that player development was certainly a positive that came out of this season. This was most notably seen in Mirza Teletovic, Shaun Livingston, and Mason Plumlee.

Prior to this season Teletovic barely had a role and was viewed as nothing more than a three-point shooter. Unable to crack Avery Johnson and PJ Carlesimo’s rotations, Teletovic was usually inserted into the first minutes of the fourth quarter only to be promptly yanked off the court following a missed shot or two.

Under Kidd’s leadership, Teletovic was given an opportunity and showed the type of impact he could have on a game. Aside from his outstanding shooting, he also proved that there are other facets to his repertoire. Teletovic showed that he can score by putting the ball on the floor and improved his rebounding skills as well. What was most impressive was that he demonstrated a lack of fear of the big stage and relished the opportunity to challenge LeBron James.

Although last season’s offseason was highlighted by the blockbuster trade with Boston and the signing of Andrei Kirilenko, the additions of Livingston and Plumlee proved to be just as valuable. Some will remember Plumlee’s disappointing showing in the postseason; however, he did show tremendous growth during the regular season and should improve with more experience. Both he and Livingston (assuming he resigns) would provide the Nets with quality role players to complement their core.

Mirza's shooting and passion at times conjures up memories of another beloved Net.

Mirza’s shooting and passion at times conjures up memories of another beloved Net.

To judge the entire playoffs as a bust is not a fair assessment. After all, Brooklyn won a playoff series without the home court advantage against a team that was evenly matched up against them. To the casual fan, the Toronto Raptors may lack the cachet, but an educated fan would recognize their capabilities.

After sweeping the season series only to lose in five games, many fans were left disappointed with the outcome against the Heat. To me, the experience was frustrating in that the Nets were competitive and in a position to possibly win each game with the exception of the series opener.

If you consider that they were able to go toe-to-toe with the two time champions while getting inconsistent, sub-par production from Williams and Garnett, being competitive was quite an accomplishment. To beat a team like Miami, you need to be firing on all cylinders and unfortunately the Nets weren’t. Perhaps a steadier performance from Williams would have extended the series further.

In the end, the Nets and their fans got the opportunity they wanted all along. One would have to assume that playing close, competitive games against the NBA’s best would be a quality learning experience as well as a good measuring stick for where they currently stand as a team. Yes it was humbling, but maybe a healthy comeback from Lopez, a return from Pierce, and improved play from Williams can be the difference if these teams meet again next year.

It took a little time, but Kidd is once again their confident leader.

There’s no one else who should be leading the Nets.

Was it a bummer that the season had to end? Of course it was, but think about how unsatisfying it would have been had the Nets lost against Indiana and they never got the opportunity to face the team we were supposedly built to dethrone. A championship wasn’t won, but hopefully this experience was a stepping stone for next year and beyond.

At least now they have the right guy leading them into the future.