Could F. Scott Fitzgerald have a written a story with better symbolism than the Brooklyn Nets literally abandoning their 113-92 loss to the San Antonio Spurs tonight with 0.2 seconds left on the clock?
It was a miserable end to a miserable game, the 31st of a miserable, possibly lost season. Things have gotten so bad for the Nets that there aren't many more questions left to ask that don't involve the words "when" and "fired." Beating the Spurs with a full roster that actually cares to play basketball is a daunting task in itself; when your players are lethargic and effortless, it becomes a joke. Gregg Popovich's fine-tuned execution machine chewed the Nets up and spit them out like the sad excuse for a basketball team they are right now.
There are plenty of things wrong with Brooklyn right now: Brook Lopez is out for the season, there is no leadership, there is no semblance of a reliable offensive or defensive system. But there is no hope to establish any of these things without the will to actually try and not wilt under the slightest of pressures. The Nets tonight could not even bother to drag their sorry asses out of the tunnel to finish the final 0.2 seconds of the game. Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce seem disinterested, Deron Williams doesn't seem to care, and what's left is a smorgasbord of players who'd like to play but just can't carry a team without the primary players.
This is a bleak team with a bleak outlook. There's no out in sight for the salary-cap hell in which the Nets are imprisoned over the next several years, and the players seem to realize their dismal circumstances. There's no fight, even in a scummy Eastern Conference. The problems are everywhere, and the Nets would rather live in filth than pick up a mop. Maybe Gerald Wallace was right about this team.
Jason Kidd thought he had a handle on this team, but he's no match for the storm of despair that has appeared over Brooklyn. Do these guys want to play for him? It's not for me to say. But whether they're sulking because of Kidd or in spite of him, it's the head coach's job to find some object of positivity, some common goal to encourage players to work. Jeff Hornacek's doing it in Phoenix. Tom Thibodeau has done it the last year and a half without Derrick Rose. They found a way to inspire hard work and effort in far worse situations than the Nets find themselves.
It would be nice if the Nets devised a resolution to try and win regardless of their circumstances, but I fear 2014 will bring more of the same. Of course there is still time to turn things around, but the more I watch this team, the more I see doom. A lot of people on this team would be elsewhere — I often wonder how Garnett and Pierce would be faring alongside their longtime captain Doc Rivers in Los Angeles or Deron Williams in Houston — and it results in an unwatchable slog on a night-to-night basis.
The Nets may have already cast aside the possibility of a positive resolution in 2014. Well, here's mine: if the Nets don't want to be watched, let me oblige them.
I doubt that one will be successful.