Do the Nets lack passion?

Joakim Noah, Nate Robinson

Just after the Golden State Warriors finished off the Denver Nuggets last night on TNT, on came one of my favorite shows these days: Inside the NBA with Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith, Shaquille O’Neal, and the always-interesting Charles Barkley. As Ernie ran through the highlights of game 6 between the Brooklyn Nets and the Chicago Bulls, he turned it over to Barkley for some analysis. In his dissection of the game came a statement about the Nets in which he called the team “lackadaisical,” adding that they “lack passion” and that they “play with talent alone.”

Do the Nets lack passion? No. The Nets are not lackadaisical, nor do they lack passion: they simply lack the histrionics that we see from the Chicago Bulls on a nightly basis. Whether it’s Nate Robinson pumping up the crowd after a made three-pointer, or Joakim Noah yelling at the top of his lungs after a tough rebound, or Carlos Boozer yelling and waving his towel from the sidelines, it’s very easy to assume that just because the Nets don’t partake in such activities, they lack passion.

The Nets simply don’t have those type of players. They have quiet leaders and guys who lead by example. Joe Johnson for instance, is one of these “quiet leaders”: someone who makes big plays and big shots, but rarely shows any emotion. That’s just his personality: country, cool, Joe from Little Rock. The same can be said about Deron Williams and Brook Lopez — two stars whose mental makeup does not consist of  jumping, screaming, and fist-pumping after they make a big play.

Now the question becomes, is this a problem? “Problem” likely isn’t the right word. It’s more like a disappointment. Fans love to see players interact with the crowd after a big play and unfortunately for Brooklyn, they simply don’t have many players who are known to do that. At times we’ll see guys such as Reggie Evans and Andray Blatche give fist-pumps or arm raises after made shots, but they are seldom and inconsistent.

When you look around the playoffs, you’ll see players such as Tyson Chandler, Jason Terry, Draymond Green, Carl Landry, the previously mentioned Nate Robinson — to name a few — simply go wild after an alley-oop, a three, a dunk, an and-one, etc. Nets fans will also remember the barbarity and brutality with which Kenyon Martin used to throw down his dunks back when he was with New Jersey.

Maybe the Nets are just not that excitable. Perhaps this off-season — in addition to a power forward and some shooters — GM Billy King needs to bring in a player such as Robinson or Martin to give the Nets some flare and excitability. Or maybe the Nets will continue to try to resemble the San Antonio Spurs: a team that shows little animation or commotion, but simply wins basketball games. Either way, the Nets will play in front of what is likely to be the most energized crowd of the season on Saturday, for a Game 7 vs. the Chicago Bulls. It will be interesting to see whether the typically mundane Nets will feed off of that Brooklyn spirit.


  1. awesome post. i’ve been saying the same thing. People keep saying the Nets have “no energy”, or “no heart”, just because they don’t jump and down after every big shot, or yell and scream when they get excited, but like you said the players on this team are just not built that way. It doesn’t mean that they don’t want as bad as the other team, thats just thier personality. If they truly had no heart this series would have been finished already and us fans would be looking forward tot he draft.

  2. I agree with you. Passion alone does not win basketball games. Your San Antonio Spurs example is a perfect illustration of why that is wrong.

    At the same time, I think the commentators are reacting to a problem that is very real with this team. There’s a clear talent disparity between these two teams. I think most people recognize that. Why were the Nets down 3-1? Why did they blow a 14 point lead with 3 minutes to go? Why did they almost blow game 6 by not being able to inbound the ball? Why were they not able to beat above .500 teams the entire season?

    I don’t know the answer to this question, but I firmly believe something is off about this team that goes beyond the talent. Maybe it’s the coaching? Maybe they’re a bit mental? Maybe they’re inexperienced (although Joe and Deron have been through this many times).

    I think you’re right to dispute the word “passion,” but I think you guys should at least admit that something is wrong about this team. What is it? I have no idea.

  3. Maybe they are a collection of guys thrown together on a whim last summer that are just entering their first battles together. Maybe the coachES are new, the arena is new, the fans are new, and the idea of winning more games than you lose is also new. Time and battles fought together will build passion. The fans experiencing heartache (like last saturday) and triumphs with this team will build passion. Their 3 best players never really played together before this year. Comradery, success, and time is what builds passion. All of it will come and its development is accelerated with every playoff game. Barkley may be right, the Nets may be winning on talent alone, if that is true, the future will only be brighter as the fanbase and team let this passion develop. Go Nets!….from a passionate fan since 1992

  4. And yes, the Nets have more talent than the Bulls, but their coach is far superior and their roster has been playing postseason bball together for the fifth straight year. Those count for a lot. Credit the Nets on this series, dont disparage them.

  5. Sorry, but it has been evident throughout this series that Nets need to find a heart.

    I hope they find it VERY soon.