Category Archives: Nets

NY Sports Today, Pt. One: The NBA

New York is pretty much the center of the universe.  Us citizens in New York acknowledge that fact and we ride with it.  Even those who aren’t from the great city of NY – when they compare our city to any other, it usually ends in a defeated mutter: “. . . but nothing is like New York.”   Yes, it’s the city all others love to hate and for good reason.  We stick our noses in the air,  and we are all in a rush because we all have somewhere to go or someone to meet.  Another reason this city is the one most love to hate, is because of it’s sports fans.  Personally, I get it.  Growing up in New York, I grew away from the fan bases of all the metropolitan franchises and mainly because the fans were just awful.   It’s not the fans’ fault though.  They grew up in the city that the world revolves around, so why wouldn’t the sports world revolve around their teams as well?

For the next few weeks I’ll be breaking down exactly where the professional franchises in this great city are in respect to the leagues they’re in.  This week we’ll tackle the NBA.  Here is where on one side you have a team that’s holding on to some imaginary greatness in the Knicks, and on the other side is one of the more forgotten professional franchises in the Brooklyn Nets, who are (unfortunately) the only team I care about in this great city. . .

The New York Knicks:

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Since the start of the new millennium, the New York Knicks have been a downtrodden franchise, who have been the focal point of frustration for most New Yorkers. Some blame Donnie Walsh.  Others blame Mike D’Antoni or Isiah Thomas.  The truth is, it was a cluster of stupid mistakes combined with ill-timed trades that had the Knicks in a perpetual state of hopelessness.  Since appointing Phil Jackson as the team president, the fan base has gone through  many ups and downs, in what is now – just about two years.  Phil Jackson hasn’t done much to re-ignite hope in the fan base until (let’s be honest) he got lucky and drafted Kristaps Porzingis with the fourth pick in the draft.  Why, lucky?  Because, in all truth he wanted Towns or Okafor – everyone did.  When he drafted the 7-footer out of Latvia, nobody knew what to expect.  And in true New York Knicks fashion – their fans expected the worse.  Much to their delight Porzingis has shown enough flashes in his rookie season that Knicks fans are comfortable moving forward with him.

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Things don’t get easier for the Knicks though.  Phil Jackson’s first choice as head coach, Derek Fisher was released this year and he has been replaced by Kurt Rambis.  Rambis, by resume or sheer looks is not the guy Knicks fans want.  To complicate things even further with the Knicks this year is they don’t know what/who they are.  They should be a team looking to groom it’s young star in Porzingis and even give more playing time to the youngsters Langston Galloway and rookie Jerian Grant but it seems like Jackson and Rambis want to “push for the playoffs.”  For what?  To get swept by the Cavs in the first round?  What does that do for you?  As it stands right now the Knicks are the 12th seed.  Last time I looked this wasn’t the NCAA Championship Tournament so being a 12th seed does you no good here.  In the Knicks’ weak attempt at trying for the playoffs, they are consistly playing with a back court of Aaron Affalo and Jose Calderon – those are two guys you couldn’t package in a deal even if you threw in all the Beatles masters and the sword of Gryffindor.

So, when it comes to the Knicks they have this one piece to build with in Porzingis.  A fading star in Carmelo Anthony.  And three interesting role players.  Oh and they’re all being coached by a guy who looks like this:

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and when he played, he looked like this:

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Someone needs to tell Phil Jackson to pump the brakes.

The Brooklyn Nets

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If there was ever a “wrong” team to root for – it might be this one.  You have to search high and low to find true Nets fans in New York.  Unfortunately for me, I see one in the mirror everyday (albeit it’s not a horrible sight, but I digress. . .).   When Mikhail Prokhorov bought the Nets in 2009, he brought with it a re-branding, a fresh start and an excitement rarely seen by this fan-base.   That lasted all but 3 years.  Give Prokhorov credit though, it’s not like he didn’t try.  He wasn’t shy with his money (as he had the most expensive and over-paid back court in the history of the NBA with Deron Williams and Joe Johnson) and he was quick to pull the trigger on a trade to bring Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to Brooklyn (which resulted in the NETS giving the Celtics every first round pick from now until I’m in my 40’s.)   “The Mad Russian” tried to bully his way into the league and he realized the err of his ways.  This brings us to the present day where the NETS are the fourth worst team in the NBA.  Put that into perspective they have only 15 wins, which is currently only one game better than the Phoenix Suns – a team that fights with itself on the bench.

The Nets have hired Sean Marks to be the team’s new general manager.  This got the fan base excited because he comes from the San Antonio Spurs offices and he waived Andrea Bargnani right away.   Marks has his work cut out for him though.  There are no draft picks to speak of and the entire roster from top to bottom needs to be reworked.  The NETS should’ve traded Thaddeus Young at the trade deadline because his stock will most likely never be higher than it is right now.  And although everybody loves him, it’s time to part ways with Brook Lopez.  Besides the injury bug that always haunts him, it’s the fact that the NBA is moving in a different direction.  Big men like Lopez still have a place in this league, but not on a team like the NETS that really can’t do anything to protect his weaknesses as a player.  Joe Johnson should’ve found a spot on a playoff team at the trade deadline, but that didn’t happen either.

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The good thing about being a NETS fan is that you really don’t expect much. . . ever.  So Sean Marks has more than enough time to put something together, and if he doesn’t – oh well, we’re the NETS. . .

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Brooklyn, We Go. . . Hard?

If it wasn’t for Mason Plumlee and Bojan Bogdanovic  representing the Brooklyn Nets in the Rising Stars game during All Star Weekend, the Nets would have absolutely nobody representing them.  They were a far cry from having any of their players in the actual All Star Game and with Mirza Teletovic out for the season, that pretty much ended their chance of having someone in the three point contest as well.   Brooklyn supposedly goes hard, but it seems like they’re also going the wrong way in terms of success.

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When Russain billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov bought the Nets in 2010 he was sure success would come and he would use all his money (and muscle) to make it come true.  Hard times have fallen on the Nets who are now an underwhelming 21-31.   This is a team who last year made it to the second round of the playoffs and now it looks like they will  struggle getting in through the door.

The problems are evident.  The gamble the Nets took on their big money players: Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Brook Lopez and Kevin Garnett is not paying off.  Deron Williams and Brook Lopez are now coming off the bench, Joe Johnson is unmotivated and at times just seems frustrated; while Kevin Garnett, with all due-respect to the future hall of famer, is getting old, and doesn’t intimidate anybody anymore.  All four have had their names thrown around in trade rumors, but as of now, they all remain in Brooklyn – but, why?

The Nets are in a “can’t win” situation.   Literally and figuratively.  As it stands now, the Nets are floating around being the 9th seed in the Eastern Conference, which has them on the outside looking in, from a playoff perspective.  The teams they’ll be competing with for that 8th seed are Detroit, Miami and Charlotte.  Detroit and Charlotte are unpredictable, while the Miami Heat are a well coached team with a lot of pride.   The Nets are painfully predictable, lack any pride and at this stage you can question the legitimacy of  head coach Lionel Hollins, who does not hide his frustrations well on the sidelines of games.

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If the Nets make it in, they get to face an early first round exit against teams like Toronto, who’d like revenge on the Nets for losing to them in the first round last year – or Atlanta.   The Atlanta Hawks are interesting in terms of the Nets and not because of a possible first round playoff match-up, but because the Hawks have the option of switching draft picks with the Nets after this season is over.   This option came to be because of the trade between the two teams which sent Joe Johnson to Brooklyn in 2012.  At their current pace, the Hawks will finish the season with the NBA’s best record, or pretty close to it, so the swap of first round picks is inevitable.

Even tanking the season, would not do the Nets any good.  That’s why it’s a no-win situation.

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For all things considered, the Nets should try to find some inspiration from somewhere in the second half of the year and make a run at the playoffs.  If for no other reason it would be to boost the value of the players on their roster so a trade can be done after this season.   Parts are going to move, but moving them now actually makes no sense.  It would only give Atlanta a better draft pick and would hurt the brand of a team that was trying to erase the memory of what it once was.

Relatively-harmless is how hard Brooklyn apparently goes now-a-days.

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio