My buddy John is a diehard Nets fan. Jogging through the years, I can only recall two times he was ever truly “happy” to be one.
1. When New Jersey made the Finals in the early 2000s. Even then I’m not exactly sure he expected them to win four out of seven games against Shaq and Kobe’s Lakers and Tim Duncan’s Spurs.
2. His “Russian Billionaire/Roc Boy Ent.” phase when he all but convinced me Jay Z and Mikhail Prokhorov would lure LeBron to Jersey for a season then be ushered in as the new King of Brooklyn.
Prior to the start of the 2013-14 season, the best way to describe John’s approach was “reserved excitement.” Sure, the starting five appeared promising on paper. There were faint conversations of “championship aspirations,” too.
But, the team was old. The team had tons of new parts. The team had a head coach who was player just six months earlier and still had his coaching V-card. Jason Kidd and Lawrence Frank probably aren’t going be each others’ Secret Santa at the company Christmas party. The team’s window to do anything of significance was now because no first round picks exists in potentially loaded 2014 and 2015 drafts (Atlanta can swap picks both years with Brooklyn as apart of the Joe Johnson trade). Garnett’s going to retire next summer, something I’m about 93.4% sure of. Paul Pierce might as well, but will be a free agent next year if nothing else.
And now, the latest straw doing its best to destroy the camel’s back is All-Star center Brook Lopez breaking his foot, effectively ending his season. The injury occurred last night in the Nets’ 121-120 last-second loss in Philadelphia. Believed to have suffered the break in the third quarter, Lopez played through the injury en-route to a 22-point and seven-rebound performance. Moving forward, however, is the murky part of the equation.
The loss dropped Brooklyn to 9-17 in an already injury-ravaged season that’s seen Deron Williams, Paul Pierce, Jason Terry and more miss considerable time. Now without arguably its most consistent offensive force until next fall and a well-documented salary cap clusterfuck, Brooklyn may not be stuck between a rock-and-a-hard-place just yet, but they’re teetering dangerously damn close.
As for John, well, he’s got a wedding to plan. And he’s a Duke fan, so at least he gets to watch Jabari Parker and Rod Hood for a few more months.