The Best of Devin Kharpertian
While we’re all dealing with the fact that Devin Kharpertian is officially a free agent — somebody give this man the max! — it’s important to give this human the proper send-off that he deserves. Since The Brooklyn Game launched alongside the Nets’ move to New York in 2012, Devin has offered some of the most brilliant, nuanced pieces you’ll ever find this side of the river. On the other hand, we got galleries upon galleries of Lopez’s best facial expressions and a litany of timeless hashtags — #IanEagleOutOfContext, anybody? — that will live on far past his time on this website.
The point is, you never truly knew what you’d get our former managing editor and his thoughtful, intelligent writing helped to evolve the experience as a Nets fan on the internet. Even as he was ready to celebrate a Jerry Stackhouse corner three-pointer with a permanent caps lock, he was always secretly creating entirely new statistics or doing a deep dive analysis on Markel Brown’s offense. With Devin, you got the whole cow, baby. Needless to say, we’re going to miss Devin around these parts — but we couldn’t let our ketchup-less hero ride off into the sunset without a post celebrating some of his work.
Without further ado, here are as many of the best moments and articles involving Devin Kharpertian that we could round up.
*Warning: this post is long as hell, but totally worth it*
Honorable Mentions: The Anti-Ketchup Crusade; Paul Millsap and the Anti-Trillion; Brook Lopez is still a fire-breathing scoring machine; The Nets Don’t Care About The Royal Couple; Rondae Hollis-Jefferson ranks Starburst flavors, gets it right, is a candy champion; I Won’t Believe The Lopez Twins Have A Comic Book Until I See It; The Nets are the league’s worst team in the fourth quarter; Brook Lopez Strikes Popcorn-Driven Peace Treaty With Cavaliers Mascot; Rapper French Montana says he dropped 30 points on Jarrett Jack in an AAU game; It Does Not Seem Like Brook Lopez Liked “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” All That Much; The Nets are shooting threes like it’s 1987; Stat Corner: Offensive & Defensive Rating; Brook Lopez: The paradoxes of time travel scare me; Mikhail Prokhorov Politely Declines ALS Ice Bucket Challenge With A Bible Quote On His LiveJournal; Lionel Hollins confirms he’s not an ogre; Andray Blatche, who is not Filipino, granted Filipino citizenship by president; Playing Out Of Place; Reggie Evans won’t tell us why he shaved his beard but will tell us how he knows the guys from Duck Dynasty; Maybe; Jason Kidd: A risk… worth taking.
#20: Just 11 Photos of Brook Lopez — February 15th, 2015
This list could only start with Brook Lopez and his facial expressions, there was no other choice. In what I now believe was the first step to the ageless hashtag #BrookLopezIsVeryGoodAtTheBasketball, this seemingly harmless photo gallery of the Nets’ franchise center set the fandom on fire. If you’ve stuck with the Nets this long, you love Lopez and these photos probably just made that passion even stronger.
#19: CurryWatch: Stephen Curry still has more threes than the entire Nets roster — December 17th, 2015
“Also to their credit, the team has answered numerous questions about their lack of three-point shooting. When asked about the team’s lack of three-point shooting from a regular (okay, me) Friday night against the Knicks, Hollins looked at that regular (again, me) and said, “I don’t know if you’ve been around, but that question’s been asked before.”
#18: The Ultimate Preview Of Nets-Hawks: Who Has Better Spoonerized Names? — April 17th, 2015
“SHOOTING GUARD: Kole Kyrver vs. Barkel Mrown. Even giving Kyrver the leniency of a two-letter spoonerizing, he is no match for a guy named “Barkel.” Bonus points to Mrown for having a first and last name that sound like dog and cat sounds, respectively. Edge: Nets.”
#17: I watched Joe Cool burn — December 16th, 2013
“Can you blame him? How do you explain hitting eight three-pointers in the span of exactly nine minutes against one of the 30 best basketball teams in the world while under the weather with illness? How do you explain 29 points under duress?
‘Wait, he had 29 points in the quarter?’ Deron Williams gasped after the game. ‘Oh my God.’”
#16: The Disney character no one realizes Boban Marjanovic actually is — January 12th, 2016
“These were just two of Marjanovic’s 13 points in just 13 minutes of playing time against the Brooklyn Nets, and he got them all in particularly big Goofy fashion: hanging around the rim and tossing the ball in above his competition. It seemed like he didn’t even need to get off the floor to dunk. Marjanovic bent the sport into “nerf basketball,” as Ian Eagle put it following the above play.
If seeing the hulking 7-foot-3 Marjanovic dominate garbage time in a win doesn’t convince you that Double Dribble was ahead of its time, you might also be interested to know that Goofy’s Double Dribble game featured optical tracking SportVU data, almost 70 years before it caught on in the NBA.”
“The Zombie Nets’ fearless leader. Right when we’re all convinced Deron Williams has exhaled his last gasp of greatness, he strings together his best performances of the season: a 26-7-7 performance against the New York Knicks and a 31-11 night against the Toronto Raptors two days later. The Nets only won those games by a combined seven points, but Williams was a +42 over the two games. They built leads with Williams in, and lost them with him out.”
#14: Jason Kidd wanted all the marshmallows — June 29th, 2014
“Imagine Jason Kidd is in first grade. His teacher announces at the beginning of the day that they can either eat one marshmallow now, or wait until the end of school and they’d get two marshmallows then. Kidd tells the teacher he’ll wait until the end of class to get two marshmallows. When his teacher isn’t looking, he steals one marshmallow from his classmate Lawrence, then tells the teacher Lawrence stole his homework, forcing Larry to go to the principal’s office and write a report on the importance of fairness.
Then, when the day is almost over, Kidd goes to the teacher’s desk and tries to convince them that he should be the teacher’s aide and have control of the bag of marshmallows and the class’s access to the supermarket and food budget, and that he knows of some really great biscotti they can get for them over in the other classroom.
That’s what this feels like, right?”
“January 8th: How do you give a letter grade to someone that defies the alphabet? He is Schrödinger’s Blatche: simultaneously winning and losing the game in his own mind. I give him a B for Blatche, because give me a reason not to.
March 12th: ALL ABOARD! Thanks for buying a ticket to the Blatche train, which runs only once every 27 minutes, except we choose the 27 minutes. Instead of train tracks, we run on hopes and Eurosteps, and instead of relying on fossil fuel we burn cognizance and fundamentals. We recommend a barf bag. Enjoy your trip!”
#12: What Can (Markel) Brown Do For You? — March 8th, 2016
“It’s an important drill for Brown, as a big share of his misses during his recent hot streak have come in just that look. In the past 12 games, his effective field goal percentage drops from 67.1 percent to 35.4 percent when he turns a catch-and-shoot look into a pull-up look, according to NBA.com. He’s also prone to leaning into his shot when catching on the move, which isn’t uncommon, but can throw off the balance just a tick.
You can see that all come to a head in one play below: Brown dribbles around a screen, misses a pull-up from the right elbow, and later buries a corner pop after getting an open look on the weak side of the floor.”
#11: The Lost Art of the NBA Floater — February 9th, 2015
“’We don’t have the most athletic guards,’ Joe Johnson admitted. ‘Myself, Jarrett. Deron (Williams)’s a bit athletic. But for the most part, we’re all guys who can really handle the ball and get in the paint whenever we want. The floater’s an easy shot for us. It’s all about touch.’
Jack is the leader, not just of the Nets but in the NBA, at floater marksmanship. No player has hit more floaters — or “teardrops” — since the beginning of 2011 than the journeyman Jack, who has lofted 131 makes in the past four seasons.
It’s not just tricky, it’s effective. Jack has made 38 of the team’s floaters this season, leading all NBA players and hitting more than all but 11 NBA teams, connecting on a ridiculous 69.1 percent of his attempts. He hit 30 of 38 floaters last season (78.9 percent), and has ranked sixth or higher in floaters made in each of the last four seasons, each season coming with a different team.”
#10: Why John Wall is the #1 pick? — May 10th, 2010
As far as I can tell, this was Devin’s first post on The Brooklyn Game and it is a doozy. Before those ping-pong balls broke the Nets and their fans’ hearts, there was Devin breaking down the future All-Star’s NBA-ready game. I’m sure he would’ve deleted the blog right then and there if somebody had told him that slipping to #3 after the dreadful 12-70 season would have lasting effects into 2016 and beyond though.
Either way, it’s hard to not look at this piece and see glimpses of the very distinct style that Devin would cultivate and foster over the next six years, including:
“John Wall is the single best athletic specimen the league has seen since Dwight Howard or LeBron James. Yes, everyone talks about this. Yes, it’s boring and repetitive to mention. There’s a reason people mention it. Because it’s freaking true. Chad Ford calls him extraterrestrially athletic.Jonathan Givony merely calls it freakish. Whatever you call it, it’s there, and barring a catastrophe of Len Bias proportions, it ain’t leaving. We all thought Derrick Rose was an athletic gift from God, and one year later the basketball deities bless us with someone who arguably blows him out of the water. Evan Turner is a solid athlete – he’s got an NBA-ready body, takes extremely long strides and has great size for the SG position – but he’s nowhere near the athlete that John Wall is. In today’s continually evolving NBA game, athletic ability means more and more every year.”
#9: Jerry Stackhouse’s Insane Plus-Minus, And How He Destroyed The Celtics — November 12th, 2012
“It’s a number that’s often subject to random chance, but it’s also subject to the whims and mercy of Brooklyn Nets backup shooting guard and 38-year-old fire-breathing mastodon Jerry Stackhouse.
Through 9 games and 142 minutes, Stackhouse has an overall +/- of +91. That raw total — without accounting for minutes played — ranks Stackhouse 17th in the NBA. What makes that notable is that Stackhouse has only played 142 minutes, ranking him 286th in the league in minutes played. Everyone above him on the list has played 333 minutes or more.”
#8: The Nets are Inevitable — February 26th, 2016
“The Nets are inevitable like Jeb Bush, slickly primed for success a few years ago but now an afterthought. The only difference is that the Nets can’t suspend their campaign in the middle of February and try again in four years. Then again, without control of a first-round draft pick until 2019, they may have done so accidentally. In the meantime, please clap.”
#7: This Is The Darkest Timeline — December 30th, 2013
“Anyone who’s stood in the way of their destruction has been quickly disposed of. Brook Lopez, who never sported a goatee, is out for the year. Andrei Kirilenko, who never sported a goatee, hasn’t played since November 8th, cruelly thinking he’d return last Friday night before getting the no-go for the weekend. Lawrence Frank, who never sported a goatee, was quickly demoted in the first month of the season after numerous arguments with Jason Kidd, who made his mark on the Nets franchise while sporting a goatee.”
#6: Deron Williams & the end of the noise — July 10th, 2015
“I have stood face to face with a monotone, glassy Williams as he tried to explain losses, and face to face with Williams while he described wins with the same tone and fervor. Even when the team was successful, Williams was coming to terms with his own creaky body, his limited lift, his waning confidence, with the slow realization that he was a highly-paid, underperforming former All-Star who’d slowly lost his role as Brooklyn looked forward without him.
I have watched Deron Williams deflect reasonable, honest questions about his body like they were an insult. I appreciate your concern for my health was a common refrain, or just a blank stare and a “next question,” even as he missed games and struggled through possessions. I have watched him dis the New York Knicks and Kobe Bryant in candid moments that were as few and far between as his signature games.”
#5: How Valuable is Brook Lopez? — February 11th, 2016
“Scoring is Lopez’s obvious strength: he leads the NBA in shots made and attempted from inside the arc, despite not playing with a traditionally distributive point guard to set him up for the easy ones. He does have range on his jumper, but best uses it as a secondary threat; most of his shots come within ten feet, and Lopez has a litany of moves in his arsenal that allow him to get to his spots in that space.
The numbers back up Lopez’s multi-faceted game. Out of all NBA players, he’s recorded the third-most points out of pick-and-rolls, the second-most points on “cuts” (which includes baskets like dunks off dump-off passes at the rim), and the second-most points on post-ups. Those post-ups alone are a series of different moves: he’s comfortable spinning into the lane around defenders and pulling up in balance, hitting a defender with a series of rotations and jab-steps before splashing a fadeaway jumper, and has the touch to consistently finish shots through contact.”
#4: You were supposed to be dead — May 14th, 2014
“It had to end eventually. Even if you wanted a championship run, you couldn’t have expected it, not with how the regular season played out. There were too many issues, too many question marks, and the Heat were just a better team. You could expect a run to the Heat, but through the Heat was just gravy. If the Nets were undead, then LeBron James was Vampire Hunter, Abe Lincoln beard and all. He was just too good for a seven-game series.
But they had every opportunity to fold and shuffle aside, to abandon their great plan and pack it in for next season. They didn’t. Because this Nets team wasn’t a team of destiny or a team of failure. They were a team of goddamned zombies. They weren’t close to death, they embraced it, hearts in hands. They saw sunlight and bought an umbrella. They stumbled through brick walls with the grace of a landslide, but they still stumbled forward, as far as they could go until they could move no more, swallowed by a double-team on their best player.”
#3: An open letter to Jason Collins — August 26th, 2014
“With 13 NBA seasons under your belt, you’ve had a longer career than 95 percent of the nearly 4,000 players in league history. You’ve made nearly $35 million in NBA salary since your rookie season, when some late first-round picks don’t even get a second contract. You’ve been a consummate NBA professional for 13 years. On the court, you have nothing left to prove. Off the court, you have a world of difference to make.
This is just one man’s suggestion. You’ve carved out an impressive life for yourself. Me, I have no idea what I’m doing. Maybe you want to still play, and that’s fine. Maybe you want to do absolutely nothing, and that’s fine too. But you’re also unique: an NBA player, one of the best at his profession in the world, who’s better suited for his next job than his last one.”
#2: That Time I Played Shaun Livingston In A Game Of Dodgeball — September 20th, 2013
“Sure enough, near the end it was myself and two other players against Shaun Livingston himself. Then Shaun knocked one of my teammates out. Then he knocked the other out. This was it. This was my chance. It was one-on-one, mano-a-mano, tête-à-tête, journalist/blogger/editor/whatever my title is this week vs. professional basketball player.
This is what I was waiting for.
I definitely, um, relished the moment. If I played sports professionally, everyone would hate me. And dodgeball? This is the silliest sport of all, and I ate it up. Jay-Z was playing and I rapped along, head nodding. I danced back and forth, using the thirty seconds of capoeira Zandile once taught me as inspiration. I beckoned to the crowd. I hung low and held my chin up. I even taunted. I beckoned at Shaun with my fingers, egging him on to try to get me out, mouthing “bring it on.” I had no mercy and no conscience.
Repeat: I taunted a professional athlete at a charity event.”
#1: How to kill a zombie — May 2nd, 2015
“They’ll be back, in some form or another, next year. They might look the same, they might look completely different. There will be reasons for hope, the currency every sports franchise builds its goodwill on. Bogdanovic will develop, Brown will defend. Perhaps Lopez will be back to build on his late-season swell, or Mirza Teletovic will return to become the player we all know he can be. Maybe the Nets get a draft pick or two, and move forward building on this era’s successes and failures.
But this Nets season never had a sense of purpose beyond survival; not after the slow start, not during the constant churning of the rumor mill, nor in the first games of the playoffs. The final night was not a blowout bang to close the season, it was a continuation of a loss that began nearly a year before. If this Nets season proved anything, it’s that you can watch a zombie die, ripped apart piece by piece, until there’s nothing left to do but decompose, and wait for the soil to spring life again.”
Devin Kharpertian & A Sampling Of The Weird Things He’s Written About The Nets Over The Years
You knew we would always end here, right? For the uninitiated, Devin made a practice of covering Nets games and then offering sharp, clever, and often hilarious recaps right as the buzzer sounded. For Nets fans, particularly so during those dark days before Brooklyn, these were a light and informative way to get caught up on your cooler talk in quick-hitting and digestible form.
Best of all, this is where Devin let his inner-weirdo shine. Below are some of our favorites throughout the years — with a heavy serving of Jerry Stackhouse and Andray Blatche, of course — but there are no right or wrong answers, each one more strange than the last. If we missed your favorite — be sure to let us know!
“JERRY STACKHOUSE IS A MAN AMONG BOYS. WELCOME TO JERRY’S STACK HOUSE. JERRY STACKHOUSE HITS THREES BECAUSE THERE ARE NO FOURS. JERRY STACKHOUSE’S PER IS ONLY MATCHED BY HIS AGE. JERRY STACKHOUSE OVER EVERYTHING.”
“Scored like a rocket. Rebounded like a carp.”
“He’s Shane Battier if Shane Battier was carved out of molten insanity.”
“WHY IN THE WORLD IS REGGIE EVANS SHOOTING MIDRANGE JUMPERS WHEN THE NETS ARE GETTING BLOWN OUT I JUST DON’T GET IT HAPPY NEW YEAR I GUESS”
“I think I figured it out: Blatche makes 25% looks 40% of the time and 70% looks 55% of the time. Did a great job attacking the glass.”
“HE’S BACK. HE’S BACK. HE NEVER LEFT OUR SOUL BUT JERRY STACKHOUSE IS BACK. JERRY STACKHOUSE CAME INTO A GAME FOR THE FIRST TIME IN ALMOST TWO MONTHS AND THE NETS IMMEDIATELY BEGAN RUNNING SIDE ISOLATIONS FOR HIM BECAUSE NOBODY STOPS JERRY STACKHOUSE. YOU DON’T EVEN HAVE TO ASK IF THEY WORKED BECAUSE IT’S JERRY STACKHOUSE AND OF COURSE THEY WORKED. JERRY STACKHOUSE INJECTED DERON WILLIAMS WITH PLATELET-RICH PLASMA. JERRY STACKHOUSE HIT A LEFT-HANDED CIRCUS SHOT WITHOUT LOOKING BECAUSE LOOKING AT THE BASKET MAKES THE GAME TOO MUNDANE FOR JERRY STACKHOUSE. BEYONCE BOWS DOWN TO JERRY STACKHOUSE. JERRY STACKHOUSE HIT HIS FIRST FIVE SHOTS AFTER A DAMN NEAR TWO MONTH LAYOFF BUT MISSED HIS SIXTH BECAUSE PERFECTION IS RUDIMENTARY WHEN YOU’RE JERRY STACKHOUSE. JERRY STACKHOUSE INVENTED SHAKE SHACK, JAMBA JUICE, AND TURKMENISTAN. WELCOME HOME, JERRY STACKHOUSE. WELCOME HOME.”
“REGGIE EVANS CAREER BEAR GAME. THE 20-20 EXPERIENCE LIVE IN PORTLAND. I didn’t give anyone else an A+, even if they deserved it, because Reggie deserved one all to himself tonight.
Reggie Evans scored 21 points and grabbed 21 rebounds in the first three quarters and finished the night with a new career high in rebounds and tying his career high scoring. He did it in surprisingly sustainable ways — he didn’t bring the ball down on offensive rebounds or in the restricted area, restricted himself solely to at-the-rim layups, and didn’t force shots through double-teams. Reggie Evans outrebounded the entire Trailblazers team in the first half and only had one fewer rebound than the Blazers after three. Reggie Evans hit an and-one because what the hell, Reggie Evans. I haven’t seen every game of Reggie Evans’s career, but this was the best game of Reggie Evans’s career. It’s almost a shame that it wasn’t at home in Brooklyn so we could hear the MVP chants.
I wrote during the third quarter that Evans would have to eat his own beard to lose his A+. BEARD INTACT. A+ INTACT. REGINALD JAMAAL EVANS, OBSERVED.”
“Earned his seconds in crunch time, even if he spent 0.8 of them forgetting he can’t dribble and shoot in 0.8 seconds. His confidence is on another level right now. We are all his high-fiving teammates.”
“FORGIVE ME JOE JESUS, FOR I HAVE SINNED. IT HAS BEEN OVER A WEEK SINCE I PICKED THE HEAT IN FIVE. AND JOE JESUS FORGAVE ME, FOR HE ALLOWED ME TO SIT BY HIS JUMPSHOT WATERFALL. AND HE SHOT, AND IT WAS GOOD.
AND THEN WE STRAYED FROM JOE JESUS, FOR JOE JESUS AND HIS DISCIPLES FATIGUED OF HIS ISOLATIONS. AND JOE JESUS WAS LOST, UNTIL JOE JESUS DROVE INTO THE HEART OF KING JAMES, IN THE MIDST OF WRITING HIS NEW TESTAMENT.
AND WITH JOE JESUS ON AN ISLAND, IT WAS NEMESIS JESUS SHUTTLESWORTH WHO STRUCK A THREE-PRONGED BLOW. AND JOE JESUS SAID TO JESUS SHUTTLESWORTH, LO, I HAVE MY OWN THREE-PRONGED BLOW, AND I SHALL CORNER YOU WITH IT.
AND THEN THE DOUBLE-TEAM CAME AND HE COULDN’T EVEN GET A SHOT OFF.
The Final Game Grade
So, with that, we’d like to grade you for the final time.
The Brooklyn Game will be categorically different without you behind the wheel. From your witty emails to rapid reactions, your writing has become a staple in many Nets fans’ lives. You made the Nets fun to watch and read about, even when they were distinctly the exact opposite. Your range, much like Brook Lopez’s post game, was immense — you want advanced statistics? Boom, Stackhouse is the greatest corner three-point shooter of all time. You want silly? Buckle up, we’re taking a ride on Blatche’s runaway train. From Mason Plumlee and Kris Humphries to Gerald Wallace and MarShon Brooks, you helped introduce the game of basketball to a whole borough of newcomers, giving the city and its players an identity when they needed it the most.
This will be my fifth season at TBG — I remember them all by a simple mnemonic device: Bulls, Raptors, Hawks, LOL — but the tools and faith Devin put in not only myself but all the other writers here is something I’d never experienced before. Aside from his generous nature and willingness to help you succeed, I also received emails like this:
It’s hard to believe that there will be a The Brooklyn Game without Devin, but he’s taught me enough to last a lifetime. My inbox is littered with emails on notes, suggestions, and tricks that you damn sure know I’m going to repurpose for the next set of contributors. If you’re honest, critical, and thoughtful, then the rest will write itself.
From all your readers, writers, and colleagues: thank you, Devin!