Whenever you think of Brooklyn and what it represents, many things come to mind. It’s defined by the character of the people & the gritty toughness that is ingrained in their blood. You think about the Borough’s heart. You think about its hustling mentality & spirit. You think about its style, its swagger. It’s attitude. You think about the people that were bred there: Mike Tyson, The Notorious B.I.G., and Spike Lee. You think about its rich history. You think about Ebbets Field. You think about the Brooklyn Dodgers. Shiiit, you even think about the Crooklyn Dodgers. You also think about Jay-Z & how he’s repped Brooklyn & has made himself into a cultural icon. Now, besides his affiliation with the team & maybe the uniforms he helped to design, did anything the Brooklyn Nets did this playoffs (or this season for that matter) make you think of any of those things??? Outside of maybe Reggie Evans ripping rebounds & causing mayhem in the paint, there was nothing very Brooklyn about this team.
Nobody should be surprised at how their season ended. Their whole season lacked consistency on the floor & lacked personality off the it. There was never a defining point in their season that anyone can remember, other than the four games they played against the New York Knicks this season. Even though they locked up a 4th seed & home court advantage in the Eastern Conference where only two teams won 50 games, they couldn’t have met a worse match up in Chicago, a team that ironically represents more characteristics of Brooklyn than they do. Led by Brooklyn’s own Joakim Noah, they brought their personality & swagger after Game 1 & changed the series to their own tempo. In fact, look at Chicago’s team. Noah? Hustle. Luol Deng & Jimmy Butler? Grit. Carlos Boozer? Toughness. Nate Robinson? Heart. If these teams could have switched uniforms, they would have been more BK-relatable. In Game 6, the Nets almost lost to Chicago that had Taj Gibson & Robinson battling the flu. Kirk Hinrich was out with a severely strained right calf, & Deng was sent to the hospital after undergoing a spinal tap. Not to mention, no Derrick Rose either. Yet they were still a jump ball away from possibly going into overtime. In Game 7, after going down 61-44 at the half (& their hollow comeback attempt), it’s fair to say they should have had their stripes ripped from their jerseys like a disgraced soldier. Game 7 is more about imposing your will & heart over another team. Look at this example of who left their heart on the floor:
Joe Johnson (playing with plantar fasciitis): 6 pts (2 – 14 from the field, 1-9 from 3-point land), 3 boards, 2 assists, & 1 FREE THROW from the line.
Joakim Noah (with the exact same injury): 24 pts (12-17 from the field), 14 boards (7 offensive), and 6 blocks.
You know what else Brooklyn gives you? Value & bang for your buck when you’re shopping. The Nets have committed $311 Million on their starting lineup alone….. & got knocked out of the 1st round. They have a power forward in Kris Humphries who’s making $12 Million that’s sitting on their bench. Have you seen the season Gerald Wallace just finished having??? By the way, he’s making $30 Million over the next 3 years. Joe Johnson is owed $60 Million for the next 3 years, essentially being paid like a franchise superstar yet he’s the team’s 3rd best player. The guy who tied up the team’s cap space for the next few years? Billy King. The same guy who ten years ago tied up Philadelphia’s cap space to surround Iverson with questionable contract signings. Now he gets a 4-year extension! With the firing of P.J. Carleisimo, they will be on their 3rd coach by the time training camp begins. I know Mikhail Prokhorov has deep pockets and everything, but I’m starting to think that if someone can just take him down to Fulton Mall, he’ll understand he doesn’t have to overpay for everything. I understand it is only year one of their acclimation to the Brooklyn Borough, but with the unrealistic expectations Prokhorov set of them winning a title by 2015, with this lineup, this management, & minimal cap space, it may be a while before the right team can represent this city to the fullest.
Major respect goes out the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night. After blowing a 16-point lead in Game 1 to the Spurs, I thought they wouldn’t win another game in this series. The best time to take a victory as a team is Game 1, especially when the opponent has an 8-day layoff between series & will spend most of that 1st game shaking off rust. So when the Spurs were still able to win, I imagined between the Spurs veteran leadership & the Warriors playoff inexperience, they would not recover. Instead, they controlled the game again (they’ve actually lead 96 of 106 minutes of these two games) & walked away with a split in the series and their first win in San Antonio since Valentine’s Day in 1997. Responsible for this shift in the team’s culture is Mark Jackson & Steph Curry. Jackson shows you that coaching isn’t just about X’s & O’s, but about motivating your team & instilling belief in your players to do things they can’t sometimes see themselves. He’s clearly gotten the ears of the players, which has now taken on the personality & swagger he had as a player. As far as Curry is concerned, he’s doing something I’m not sure I have seen in the NBA in a long time, if not ever. Steph is almost like the secret player you unlock with a cheat code in a video game that allows you to make every shot possible by pressing X and L2 repeatedly. More than that, he’s become the proverbial hot goalie that you see in the NHL playoffs or the hot pitcher in the MLB playoffs. Being a Canadiens fan, I remember when Patrick Roy was standing on his head in the 1986 & 1993 playoffs essentially stealing two Stanley Cups from better teams those years. Or like Randy Johnson & Curt Schilling did the same pitching the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2001 knocking off the New York Yankees in the World Series. Whenever you have a goalie or a pitcher that hot, all conventional playoff order & rules go out the window. Much like those teams riding their insanely hot star player to glory, Golden State is doing the same with Curry. Make no mistake; Curry is at this level now, playing with an NBA Jam On Fire type confidence leaving no answer for defenses to contain him. How else do you explain this shot he pulled off in the first quarter last night? Now I don’t want to say that they’re going to win it all, much less this series vs. San Antonio. But until a team can devise a plan to stop Curry, at this point, I’m saying all bets are off now…… Is it a coincidence that Brendon Ayanbadejo & Chris Kluwe (two players strong in their stances for Gay rights) both no longer have NFL jobs after being cut this offseason? Ha ha, what am I saying? OF COURSE it’s a coincidence….. Maybe Ricky Romero should try a new position. Um, how about DH?…… Quick predictions for the rest of 2nd Round of playoffs: Dick Bavetta aka “Knick Bavetta” refs Game 6 or 7 if Knicks/Pacers series goes that far. We don’t want break Stern’s wish of having an all major-market Eastern Conference Finals. At the very least, expect lots of fishy calls in those games; OKC will lose in 6 to Memphis; Miami will win in 6…… & the Habs will come back from 3 – 1 down and win the series. Gotta have confidence right??…… ***reading last night’s box score*** ……..Ahh f***.
Cal Cee // South Shore Ave
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