Adam Silver (left) threw the $25,000 hammer down on Masai Ujiri (right). (AP)

Adam Silver (left) threw the $25,000 hammer down on Masai Ujiri (right). (AP)

The NBA has fined Toronto Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri $25,000 for obscene language directed towards the Nets in a public setting before Game 1 of the Eastern Conference playoffs, NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced today.

Ujiri said "F--- Brooklyn!" to a crowd of Toronto Raptors fans at a pre-game rally, which was recorded by a fan on Instagram. Ujiri apologized for the remark at halftime, but added "I don't like them" in reference to the Nets.

Given the recent fines for language, Ujiri may have gotten off easy. On June 26th, 2012, Knicks forward Amar'e Stoudemire was fined $50,000 by the league for using a homosexual slur in a private Twitter message towards a fan. And on January 18th, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was fined $100,000 by the league for confronting referees with inappropriate language. (Though to be fair, that was considered a ceremonial gesture by former NBA commissioner David Stern, who fined Cuban at his request one last time before Stern's retirement.)

For context, Jason Kidd was fined $50,000 by the league on November 28th for intentionally spilling a drink on the court when he was out of time-outs in a game against the Los Angeles Lakers. But that was when the league commissioner was David Stern, not Silver.

 

LeBron James, Joe Johnson

AP

If you believe in the mystic power of Google search counts -- and I do, considering that people are at their most honest when searching things on Google -- the most popular athlete in New York isn't Carmelo Anthony, or Deron Williams, or Victor Cruz, or Eli Manning.

Nope, it's... MORE →

 

The Knicks season ends tomorrow.

 

The Magic rank sixth in the league in defensive rebounding percentage, meaning that only five teams grab more defensive rebounds in the amount of chances they have. But they've got an even better percentage of defensive rebounds converted into immediate baskets: they're 1-1 on the season when they shoot on their own basket. A truly impressive number.

PA announcer David Diamante credited the two points to Nets center Mason Plumlee. When Plumlee inevitably breaks Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's all-time scoring record by one point, remember this day.

 

Kyle O'Quinn is a professional basketball player. He is not an Olympic shot-putter. That makes this pass that much weirder, because Kyle O'Quinn soars this one like he's trying to set a record.

OQ Pass

Here's my favorite part about this pass: because of the beauty of the GIF form, this ball never hits the ground. It just soars over everyone: over the Nets defense, over Jameer Nelson's body, over the fans who duck at the last second, and flies out of frame, set to soar in perpetuity.

It's the pass that never hits its target, but just flies away, to a distant netherworld where the foils of bad commercials live in harmony. It is the pass left to the sands of time, one that escaped the concept of basketball and enjoyed a life outside of our collective consciousness.

Farewell, Kyle O'Quinn pass. I hope you found happiness on the other side.

 

Jason Collins Jersey

Jason Collins's Jersey (NBA)

The NBA will auction off three autographed Jason Collins jerseys, two of them game-worn, between April 4th and April 22nd, with the NBA donating all proceeds to the Gay, Lesbian, & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and the Matthew Shepard Foundation. Collins wears #98 in honor of Matthew Shepard, a gay college student who was murdered in 1998 after being targeted for his sexuality.

The NBA has donated all proceeds of Collins's jersey sales to the two charities. Collins's jersey ranked #1 on the NBA's online store for three weeks.

In 17 games, the 35-year-old Collins has averaged 0.5 points, 0.5 rebounds, and 1.4 fouls in 6.6 minutes per game.

 

Houston Rockets center Omer Asik attempted a free throw in an NBA game on TNT. Here's what happened.

Omer Asik Airball GIF

Poor Kevin McHale. Look at him, having to endure that from his starting center. Worse, his real starting center is Dwight Howard, who makes airballing free throws a routine.

You'll get 'em next time, Omer.

 

We don't normally highlight power rankings from around the league here on The Brooklyn Game, but eagle-eyed reader Ken noticed something interesting in the latest USA TODAY NBA power rankings. The Nets currently rank 14th in their NBA power rankings, but in their last game against the 13 teams above them, they're 8-5, with one of those losses (against the Houston Rockets) coming before January 1st. They've won each last game against the five teams ranked directly ahead of them.

Things have changed a lot in 2014, that's for sure. Chart below.... MORE →

 

Mark Cuban, Nate Silver, Michael Lewis, Daryl Morey, Paraag Marathe, NBA, NFL, FBN, BKN ENT

SSAC's panelists from 2013. (AP)

Nets assistant general manager Bobby Marks, Springfield Armor general manager Milton Lee, assistant Armor operations assistant Adam Ratner, and statistical analyst Scott Sereday were among about 2,700 attendees at the two-day Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge.

Though all 30 NBA teams had representatives in attendance, the conference resonates only with some around the league. "I don't even know what conference you're talking about," Jason Kidd said when I asked him about Sloan, noting that he's "just focused on coaching."

Sloan, at its heart, is a trade show that blends the academic with the athletic. Mostly white, mostly male college students, from mostly affluent backgrounds, wore suits to blend in with mostly white, mostly male league executives. Researchers peddle papers in the hopes of enticing people with hiring power to snag them. There's a horde of media (the ESPN cloud, which this site's former intonation Nets are Scorching was a part of, is technically designated as "Sponsors," since the World Wide Leader Sponsors the conference) and the occasional high-level sports fan that's just there to learn. But most everyone is there to impress or be impressed, to give someone a job or get one, and your willingness to converse likely hinged on which side of that fence you stood.

That's not to say there weren't fun moments. Legendary coach Phil Jackson made fun of Shaquille O'Neal's weight. Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey admitted in a moment of panic that he'd called Mark Cuban to ask for Dirk Nowitzki when Morey thought he'd lost Dwight Howard to the Golden State Warriors. (Cuban, funnily enough, knew that Howard was going to Houston before Morey did, and assumed Morey was simply taunting him.) Former Toronto Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo admitted he was tanking. Malcolm Gladwell took a journalistic plunge into new NBA commissioner Adam Silver, ultimately befuddling Silver for the better part of an hour and forcing him into uncomfortable admissions of semi-guilt.

But beyond that, here's three ways Sloan related -- or could relate -- to the Nets:
... MORE →

 

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This chart, thanks to Houston Rockets analyst and occasional tweeted Ed Kupfer, shows how team's offenses and defenses have changed over the course of the season. The black line notes where the team ranks offensively among all 30 teams by date, the red line notes defense. For example, the Portland Trail Blazers (first row, second from right) took a stronghold on the league's best offense in December, and haven't relinquished it since.

The Brooklyn Nets (fourth row, second from left) are an interesting case: their offense has remained basically the same all season, with a slight uptick in offensive efficiency in 2014. But their defense has gone from near-league-worst to middle of the pack in just a couple of months.

Through December 31st, the Nets allowed 106.7 points per 100 possessions, third-worst in the league. Since January 1st, they've allowed just 101.7 points per 100 possessions, a five-point improvement that ranks them eighth in the league in that time.

The timing's not coincidental; right around the time Kevin Garnett moved to center, the team's defensive efficiency improved drastically across the board. In the calendar year 2014, the Nets have allowed just 95.8 points per 100 possessions with Garnett on the floor, which would rank as the second-best defense in the league behind the Indiana Pacers -- who, as you can tell from the chart above (fifth row, second from right) have been atop that chart for most of the season.

 

Reggie Evans is no longer a member of the Brooklyn Nets, but that doesn't mean he's gone forever. NBA players all around the league talked with Matthew Stucko of YES Network about what it's like going up against Reggie Evans in the paint, and there's a common theme throughout: they don't like doing it.

The Nets acquired Marcus Thornton in exchange for Evans and Jason Terry Wednesday, February 19th.

 

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At the end of the first quarter, someone (a Bulls trainer?) gave Chicago Bulls center and Nets opponent Joakim Noah something to small, presumably to help him focus. Noah gave it quite a whiff before deciding he'd had enough, jerking away with a speed you so rarely see from a big man.

I can't stop staring at this on repeat. It looks like he's inventing a dance. Credit to Noah for inhaling with the vigor of an actual bull.