|What's not to like about New Jersey?|
|If the shoe fits.....put it on.|
|N-E-T-S, Nets Nets Nets!!!|
| My good friend Chris pointed out pitchers and catchers are about to report so it’s time for another rant. So it is. Yet I shall not rant about baseball today, instead let’s discuss the Nets.
“The New Jersey Nets are the best team in the Eastern Conference.” Sounds very strange doesn’t it? As far as I can tell, the Nets are playing ‘80’s Lakers basketball and lo and behold it actually wins ball games. Wait a second, you mean you don’t need an ornery self-righteous superstar that takes all the shots? Yeah, actually that would be a pretty good start. It’s not a mistake that the Sixers were in the finals last year. However, it’s better to have TWO self-righteous superstars who find a way to share all of the shots. That, of course, is why the current version of the Lakers is winning championships.
With the Nets, for the past four years or so, I ‘ve bought in to the New Jersey mystique. Become a Net – play like crap or play a great individual game – get injured – lose games. Yet it confounded me because admittedly I’m not the basketball afficianado like I am of baseball and I often rely on friends who are. Since actually watching an NBA game on television for the first time in my life in Josh Moyse’s bedroom about 17 years ago (I hated basketbal as a kid because I sucked at it in gym class) I think I’ve learned a lot about the
|game and players. Yet I couldn’t figure out why the Nets players continued to suck.
When the Nets drafted Kerry Kittles I saw a skinny kid from Villanova that I was sure would get injured (good guess huh?). But all of the experts including Dr. Jack Ramsey (what is he a doctor of?) told me that he could develop into the next Jordan with his athleticism. When the Nets drafted Keith Van Horn I wasn’t very excited about a white boy who I thought was overrated (and I did watch a lot of college b-ball that year) but all of my Celtics fans friends told me he was going to be a dangerous player. They said he was a triple threat. He could score inside and out and handle the ball. “The next Larry Bird?” I asked hopefully. “Not quite,” was the tacid response. Last year brought in Kenyon Martin who was a vicious offensive and defensive player at Cincinatti but he played like a pussycat in the swamp.
Exit Stephon Marbury, Jamie Feick and, perhaps more importantly, Chris Morris, and enter Jason Kidd, Richard Jefferson and Todd MacCulloch and suddenly you have the best team in the East. Is it really that easy? Get a great point guard and you win? Only if you have the horses to run with him. Ask a Celtics fan if they’d like to have Baron Davis to go along with Pierce and Walker. But that’s not all. The Nets have gotten all of their pieces to fall into place at the exact same time.
Kittles returns from an injury that had the Nets asking for an exemption from his contract at the beginning of last year so he could possibly retire.
Martin decides it’s ok to be aggressive both offensively and defensively so that along with MacCulloch teams think twice about driving through the lane.
Van Horn rediscovers his shooting touch now that he actually touches the ball in the post-Marbury era.
Richard Jefferson looks about as comfortable a rookie as I’ve seen on the Nets.
The bench is full of nobodies who just want to play hard and not bitch about playing time or how many shots they get. Plus Aaron Williams and Lucious Harris got valuable minutes during last year’s injury decimated season.
The end result is fun to watch. Focus on perimiter and transition defense, deny the entry passses and run the fast break off every opportunity. That ‘80’s Lakers style still works today. Gee, I wonder where they got it from. Byron Scott might have something to do with it.
All that being said, I'm still waiting for the collapse. After all these are the New Jersey Nets. C'mon people!
| While it's still fresh in my mind, let me say this about the NBA All-Star Weekend. First of all, the slam dunk contest officially became a joke. Stamp it and send it off. THE WHEEL?!? Here's a great idea, let's ask the contestants to do things it's physically impossible for them to do. The fact that no established player comes within 23 feet of this travesty just goes to show that showboating has nothing to do with winning or how good a player actually is. The collection of bench warmers and rookies that actually bother with this thing prove their mettle every year (give or take) by strutting around banging their chests and taking their rightful place at the end of the bench.
Come to think of it, the three point contest or the Pepsi-Motorola-GMC-Vagisil-Chico's Bail Bonds-Shootout or whatever it was called this year, is full of much better players but it still has nothing to do with winning. It's time for the NBA to take a page from the NHL. SKILLS COMPETITION. Yeah! How many people would tune in to watch Anthony Mason and Kenyon Martin in the Medicare-HMO Flagrant Foul Competition? How about Stephon Marbury and Jamaal Tinsley in the I can't Believe it's Not Butter Fingers Turnover Challenge? The simple fact of the matter is, ALL all-star games are archaic. They were invented in a time when most fans were not able to see these all-pros on a regular basis. Now, with SportsCenter and all of the other derivatives, we know full well what all these players are capable of. Now, it's just plain dull.