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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 →

 

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 →

 

I was pretty panicked about the state of the Nets a year ago. And I still contend I had every reason to feel that way. The superstar defensive stalwart center the team had been chasing all year had just opted to finish the season in Orlando while indulging in a bowl of his “favorite candies” (I think at this point, it’s become a prerequisite for every rant of mine to mention Dwight Howard ACTUALLY being bribed by candy to waive his opt-out clause – good luck with this clown LA). On the same day, the Nets traded their lottery pick (with minimum protections) for a month-long rental of a nearly 30-year-old player who’s nickname was “Crash” based on his reckless, bone-crunching style of play. Deron Williams and Brook Lopez were expected to become free agents – unrestricted and restricted respectfully. And the team’s best player under contract going into the following season was a toss-up between a one-dimensional gunner (Anthony Morrow), or an all-offense, no-defense rookie who had lost the confidence of his coaching staff (MarShon Brooks).
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Brook LopezI’ll admit I was once a non-believer. A little less than a decade ago after reading Michael Lewis’ Moneyball and watching the 2003 Boston Red Sox –- with noted statistician Bill James as part of their front office team -– collapse in the playoffs against the New York Yankees, I questioned why there was a contingent of people who follow baseball that were so insistent on moving away from the traditional models we used to judge quality. What was wrong with home runs, RBIs and batting average as the be-all, end-all metric? Don’t even get me started on basketball. How was it possible to take a team game like basketball and develop new metrics to determine who’s better than who?

But I’ve since seen the light, and I firmly believe if others did, rather than focusing on antiquated criteria like points or rebounds per game, or silly perceived intangibles like past reputation, Brook Lopez would have been named an All-Star last night. ... MORE →

System of a Down

Posted on: December 20th, 2012 by Mark Ginocchio Comments

 

As the Brooklyn Nets dropped their eighth game over their last ten last night, the topic of conversation has focused tightly on the team’s offensive “system,” or lack thereof. Of course, this idea was most pointedly promoted by point guard Deron Williams, primarily in comparison to the “system” he ran in Utah under coach Jerry Sloane. But then the idea was brandied about by other players, most notably, the team’s other highly-paid backcourt player in Joe Johnson. Simply, the argument is that the Nets -– owners of an 11-4 record on the last day of November and a 13-12 record today – don’t have an offensive system to speak of, especially when the team goes into offensive ruts and relies too much on one-on-one isolation plays.

And yet, when you look closely at what has cause this rather dramatic about-face in less than one month’s time, the problems run deep and systemic.... MORE →

 

The phrase “Fugazi” – Mafia slang for “fake tough guy” per the movie Donnie Brasco – should be a familiar one to long-term Nets fans. Following a game 2 Nets demolition of the Manhattan Knicks during the 2004 NBA Playoffs, then-Knick Tim Thomas, injured by a hard foul from Nets center Jason Collins, referred to Collins’ teammate Kenyon Martin – long considered the heart, soul and tenacious grit of the back-to-back finals team – as a “Fugazi.” Martin, ever the diplomat, said he would welcome being locked in a room with Thomas to see who would emerge in one piece. That surprisingly did very little to quiet the heat between the Nets and Knicks.

What I’ve always found preposterous about Thomas’ words was the fact that Martin’s tough guy act helped his team win, and only went on to emblemize in that playoff series how much more battle-tested and prepared the Nets were than the Knicks –- a team that had taken a punch and essentially refused to fight back. If Jason Kidd hadn’t suffered a debilitating knee injury in the second round of that postseason, the Nets and their “Fugazi” spirit probably would have made a third consecutive trip to the NBA Finals. There was nothing "fake" about Martin and those Nets.

Of course the reason why I’m fixated on “Fugazi” today is based on last night’s Brooklyn Nets victory in Boston over the Celtics. The Celtics, who are only a few months removed from taking the Miami Heat to a competitive fourth quarter of Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, put on a clinic in “Fugazi” last night... MORE →

Taking Nets/Knicks Personally

Posted on: November 27th, 2012 by Mark Ginocchio Comments

 

The amusing, yet hardly unexpected chorus of excuses and capitulations from Knicks fans the day after Round 1 of the “Battle of the Boroughs” went to the bums from Brooklyn – “it was just one game.” “The Knicks were missing Stat, Shump and Kidd.” “The Nets haven’t played anyone good yet” – do not upset me. For last night was something I was hoping to relish for a greater portion of my lifetime. Last night was personal.

As a kid growing up on Long Island in the shadow of Manhattan (and on the same land mass as Brooklyn), being a Nets fan was not a birthright. It was not hereditary. It was a choice. It was a choice I made in the summer of 1992-93 partly out of circumstance (my family was a Mets household and thus subscribed to Sports Channel, where the New Jersey Nets could be seen, and not MSG, where the Yankees and Knicks called home) but also, predominantly out of my affinity for the team’s players. The early 90s Knicks were clearly the better team, but featured a tired group of players and names who had been around the block – Ewing, Oakley, Smith and Riley. Sure, I guess John Starks had the potential to be a blue collar hero, but he always struck me as too erratic and crass for me to become a true believer. The Nets meanwhile presented a roster of youth and potential. Derrick Coleman and Kenny Anderson should have been great. And of course the Nets had the greatest underdog star I could ever hope to find in an era where Michael Jordan was at the top of his game.... MORE →