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The BrooklyKnight was always doomed.
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Posted on: October 7th, 2014 by Andrew Gnerre Comments

 

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AP

AP


Joe Johnson on Twitter

Height: 6'7"
Weight: 240 lbs.
Date of Birth: June 29, 1981
Years Pro: 13
Before NBA: University of Arkansas
Drafted: 10th overall, 2001 NBA Draft
Nickname: Joe Jesus, Joe Cool, Armadillo Cowboy
- Full Stats -

Joe Johnson is the only Brooklyn Net that matters at this point. He’s really the only Brooklyn Net who’s ever mattered.

Since the Nets entered the borough with the fury, bravado and pedigree of a preschooler determined to spell his name correctly for the first time ever, they’ve been in over their heads (even if they didn’t know it and certainly didn’t act like it). They claimed they were aiming at immortality, but the barrel of the gun has been pointing squarely at mediocrity the entire time. And the dude who’s been successfully pulling the trigger on ordinary for his first two years as a Net, and the rest of his NBA career? Joe Marcus Johnson from Little Rock, Arkansas.

It’s near impossible to say what Joe will do this season or what Joe needs to do this season, because that all depends on how everyone else performs. Joe is the Jenga block holding this entire tower upright. He may not always stand out from the other blocks, but please believe that he is weight-bearing.

No matter what the Nets have needed in Brooklyn to become or remain slightly above average, Joe has delivered. If they were tied with the Pistons at the end of the second overtime and needed a win to impress Jerry Seinfeld (sitting courtside) and enrage Lawrence Frank (coaching the Detroit), Joe was there. If they needed a 10 three-pointers and 29 points in a quarter against the 76ers, Joe was there. If they needed someone to post up the young guys on Toronto in the playoffs and score on nearly every play, Joe was there. If they needed nothing more than like nine points because the rest of the team was playing well, Joe was there, too.

For the first season, all the Nets needed from Joe to become a middling basketball team was a very steady stream of very average basketball. And Joe flooded Brooklyn with average basketball. Most of his stats, both standard and advanced, were his least impressive since his Phoenix days. After having built a career primarily on his scoring ability, he averaged 16.3 points on 42 percent shooting in the inaugural Brooklyn season, his lowest marks since he was a spry 22-year-old in Phoenix. But the Nets won 49 games, so Joe could gaze upon harvest with pride. He had put in another year of honest work for a playoff basketball team. He could smile, close the screen door and head up to bed.

But the following season, the Nets were reeling. Their offseason fireworks weren’t yielding the instant championship caliber team that Mikhail is constantly chasing. And then Brook Lopez broke. By January 2, the Nets had earned a 10-21 record. If they were going to ever reclaim mediocrity, they were going to need a superhero who could yank them back up to the middle. So Joe Johnson asked Jason Kidd for the ball in Oklahoma City with the game tied at 93 with just a few seconds left. He crossed up Serge Ibaka twice, and the rest is history.

What exactly the Nets need from Joe this season is still a bit unclear. The team is, once again, hitching their apple wagon to the health of Deron Williams’s ankles and Lopez’s feet. They are, once again, hoping that a handful of unproven-but-promising young guys and past-their-prime veterans over-perform on the aggregate. Again, the discussion about Joe quickly turns to the rest of the team, but that’s because the guy’s sole directive is to serve the team, to fill in or fall back where needed.

As such, Joe doesn’t get too much time in season previews anymore because Joe isn’t the x-factor. So many previews are about “If player X does this, then…” If Williams can revert back to his Utah days and Beşiktaş nights, then the Nets will win some games. If Lopez can stay on the basketball court, then the Nets will win some games. If Garnett can play enough minutes… If Bojan Bogdanovic’s Paul Pierce impression is good enough… If a bench unit of Jarrett Jack, Andrei Kirilenko, Mirza Teletovic and Alan Anderson can concoct the type of pandemonium needed from a bench unit… If Mason “You’re the man now” Plumdog Millionaire learned some life lessons while in Spain…

But there aren’t any “ifs” for Joe Johnson. There isn’t any point in writing “If Joe Johnson…” because Joe Johnson doesn’t “if,” Joe Johnson “whens.” And when the season starts, Joe Johnson will be there for the Nets, doing whatever he needs to do, just to make sure they’re okay.

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Paul Pierce, Jason Collins

Jason Collins (right) on the bench with Paul Pierce. (AP)

A couple minutes into Jason Collins’ first appearance for the Nets on Sunday, my wife said what has become a common chorus, “Why is this such a big deal? It shouldn't be.”
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Richard Jefferson

Richard Jefferson could fly -- but he could also score. (AP)

2003-2004 Stats: 78 GP, 39.2 MPG, 19.5 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 3.8 APG, 0.8 SPG, 0.2 BPG, 49.3 FG%, 31.9 3P%, 81.2 FT%
2003-2004 Advanced: 60.3 TS%, 52.2 eFG%, 18.9 PER, 117 ORtg, 104 DRtg, 11.7 WS
All-Star Team? No
Team: 49-33, lost in second round to Miami Heat (4-1)
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AP

On June 1, I found myself in sitting in the outfield bleachers at Yankee Stadium for a Saturday night Sox-Yankees tilt. I’m a Mets fan, but was ready to give in to the 27-ringed hydra for a while. Sitting with my soon-to-be-inlaws (Yankees fans, the lot of them) seemed like a good excuse to cheer for a winning baseball team for once. But then the game started, and the Yankees fans around us made good on every generalization about their ilk. The deluge of homophobic slurs that started in the first inning weren’t much of a surprise, but the third-inning heckles involving the Boston Marathon bombing did catch me off-guard. When you find yourself among the rotten, it’s hard to root for the home team.

I bring all of this up because as June proceeded, the Nets —- my beloved, one-time underdog representatives of Jersey -— finally completed the transformation that they had been teasing for the past 18 months or so. They became the Yankees: NBA Division.... MORE →

 

It’s hard to figure out what Brook Lopez did to deserve what he got. He came into the league a pretty un-hyped 10th overall pick, performed at a high level and stayed humble throughout. Yet, it was never good enough. People didn’t talk about him often, but when they did, he wasn’t doing enough.

His first few years were clouded by desolation, misdirection and strawmen. For his debut season, he was transplanted to the ruinous East Rutherford swamps, an inhospitable territory laid barren by Bruce Ratner and Jason Kidd. He responded with a season worthy of the All-Rookie first team and enough laidback, goofy charm to begin thawing the cold, dead hearts of Nets fans. His second season was a legit breakout, putting up 18.8 points, 8.6 rebounds, 1.7 blocks and shooting 50% from the field and 81% from the line -— all at the age of 21. But the chorus -— outside of Nets fans -— was that he was putting up empty numbers on a 12-win team. Kinda true, but also, those are just plain good numbers. Whatever. Brook never wavered from his bro’d-out stoicism. Then the guy somehow sidled his way into the role of the non-rebounding, injury-prone trade piece for the best center in the league. He wasn’t actually any of those things, but they were the only buzz-phrases to define him for 18 months or so.

But then his feet healed, he vanquished the Epstein-Barr virus from his system and Dwight Howard continued his slow descent into being the worst. And now as we look back semi-fondly on the Brooklyn Nets first playoff run, we see a seven-game series in which Brook secured his place as the best player on a one-day strong playoff team (unless Deron grabs that mantle, in which case we won’t be mad). As the longest-tenured Net, he’s the closest thing we have to “our guy.”

But through it all, Brook keeps his distance. He’s the reserved, sage bro in the corner, debating alternate Batman histories and gauging every angle in his bank shot repertoire.

Brook, we’ve been crushing on you for years now, but no one believed us. No one believed that you were the guy we knew you were, the guy you proved yourself to be this season. Basketball minds refused to believe in things that were fact, but they cannot ignore your prominence any longer. Even though it’s still early in your career, this first Brooklyn season and postseason are heavily weighted arguments in determining your perception league-wide. But your work is just starting. This year was a breakthrough, but now you need to do it again. Fans and coaches and players and pundits aren't going to taste the stock before the soup is finished. I’m pretty sure you don’t care about this at all, but carrying your team (yeah, your team) next year like you did this year will nudge the needle ever-closer towards “Nets Great.” I know, we’re getting way ahead of ourselves. Don’t want to move too fast. But that’s just what you do to us. You make us feel young again, and not only because that’s when seven-footers still existed in the NBA. Hope you like this tape, whether you bump it on the subway or that crazy bus elevator at Barclays that people talk about. Thanks for a great season.

Animal Collective, “Brother Sport”
“You're halfway 'til you're fully grown. You've got a real good shot.”

Nude Beach, “You Make It So Easy”
“’Cause it’s not my fault that you thought that I might be somebody else.”

Art Brut, “DC Comics And Chocolate Milkshake”
“I guess I'm just developing late.
 DC comics and chocolate milkshake—I never got over that amazing taste. 
I've been accused of some things,
 I'm not sure what they've meant:
 Peter Pan syndrome and arrested development.”

Alex Bleeker and the Freaks, “Don't Look Down”
“Don't look back at the way we met, don't look back at me now. Don't retract all the things you said.”

Tanlines, “Brothers”
“Take the stairs, make mistakes, just make up for them. On the spot, don't pretend.”

Yuck, “The Wall”
“Tryna make it through the wall. You can see me if you're tall. Well, if you're tall, looking over.”

Lambchop, “Nice Without Mercy”
“And the sky, it opens up like candy. And the wind it don’t know my name. And the warm comes back even though I thought it would not. Yeah.”

Panda Bear, “Bros”
“Hey man, what's your problem? Don't you know that I don't belong to you? It's hard and hard enough to keep it up when everything is so new.”

Cass McCombs, “Eavesdropping On The Competition”
“You said if you could only get through life without one opinion, you'd be fine… Now you're free as the ferry out of Galveston.”

WU LYF, “We Bros”
“So maybe we will fail, fail to not see. Maybe we will fail, but at least we will be free.”

 

Season ticket holder and The Brooklyn Game contributor Andrew Gnerre attended the first playoff basketball game in Brooklyn Nets history. Here's what he had to say.

via whatakatiepie on Instagram

It’s weird how much I cared about these free shirts. Then, after waiting on an extra slow line to get in (the security ramped back up to pre-Streisand pace, for obvious unfortunate reasons), I wasn’t handed one and was grumpy immediately.

It’s just that after enduring all the posturing and promises from the billion-dollar owner and his number one marketing goon on their way from East Rutherford to Newark to Brooklyn, I felt the fans who made it here deserved one shirt. Put an ad on it, I don't care. Put 15 ads on it. Just please, give me an oversized shirt that I'll probably never wear again so I can put it over whatever clothes I'm already wearing and cheer like a maniac for three hours. But nope. No shirts at the door. They don't respect the fans enough...

Oh right. The shirts are on the chairs. OK, never mind, I'm good. Thanks Brett and Mikhail!... MORE →

 

The Brooklyn Nets will face the Chicago Bulls in the first round of the playoffs, starting Saturday night at 8 P.M. Today and tomorrow, we'll take a look at how the teams match up.

Reggie Evans, Carlos Boozer

Reggie Evans, Carlos Boozer fighting for a loose ball. Shocking. (AP)

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So here, in the 65th game of the season, the Nets are pretty much where we expected them to be at the beginning of the year. Against the Hornets on Tuesday night, the offense worked, with Deron Williams the newly spry cog at the center. The defense wasn't spectacular, but it also held a middle of the road offensive team to 98 points, instead allowing a bottom-dwelling offensive team to put up 106 like they did the night before. They took care of a sub-.500 team like they pretty much always do. The Nets without one of their starters (Joe Johnson) are a better team than the Hornets without one of their starters (Ryan Anderson), so the Nets won. Nothing more, nothing less.

The Nets' now-predictable dichotomy was on frustrating display in their first two possessions... MORE →

 

Anthony Morrow

Comfort. That's what we want from the dudes on the team we root for. When the ball is in their hands, we want to feel at ease. Rooting for a team is such a gut-wrenching, exhausting trip that you need a calming guide to take you safely through the hallucinations and fever dreams of fandom.

Jason Kidd was the epitome of this. When he was on the court, all was well. He’d figure it out, regardless of the situation. We were in good hands. We also want moments we can reminisce about. If the guy seems happy to be there, that's gravy. But since that one guy got a headache and left, there haven’t been many players to don the Nets sweater who have afforded us fans these requirements. In fact, I’d say there’s only been one: Anthony Morrow.... MORE →

 

The Brooklyn Nets seem boring. Not to me, and maybe not to any of you—the faithful—but to many. One of the most influential sports writers on the planet, among others, has voiced this very thought. A writer for The New Yorker recently brought up how boring the Nets are during his piece about the Knicks-Rockets game: "For all the flashiness that surrounds their arrival, there is no getting around the fact that, on the court, the Brooklyn Nets are a boring team, playing a boring brand of basketball." And then, this guy.

They’ve spent the year at or near the bottom of the league in pace, fast break points and turnovers forced—generally three statistical indicators of a sluggish, austere group. At their most effective, they employ a lumbering, anachronistic seven-footer on the offensive end. At their least effective, they fall into an iso-heavy mess of missed jumpers. Their highlights are pedestrian; their dunks are by moderately athletic power forwards. Gerald Green isn’t walking through that door.

But yet, those who think this team is tedious and uninteresting just aren’t looking hard enough. Here are 10 reasons why this team is not boring. (Make sure to leave reasons 11 through infinity in the comments section.)

Start here, with The Joker...
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BrooklyKnight

When I woke up Saturday morning, I was still in a fight with my girlfriend. The worst. So I made breakfast and turned on the 2002 Nets-Pacers game that lives on my DVR. Keith Van Horn put his hand on my shoulder. "Just give her a call. This'll be fine." Aaron Williams grabbed an offensive rebound. I felt better. Yeah, things will be fine.

Sports don’t matter, but they can help.... MORE →