The Nets & Knicks rivalry is about as fun as a doorstop these days, but that didn’t stop Nets GM Billy King from taking a dig at the Knicks front office Tuesday afternoon.
Earlier this summer, an interview with Knicks president Phil Jackson was released in which Jackson critiqued his players and their performance. That included current Nets Shane Larkin and Andrea Bargnani: Jackson said, among other things, that Larkin had “tiny hands” and Bargnani was “a big tease.”
But when asked about the doubt from afar cast on his team’s new backups — who have come from far and wide before landing in Brooklyn this offseason — King said he just wanted his players to be themselves.
“We don’t want our guys out to prove something to someone else,” King said. “Just play what you’re able to do and prove to yourself. Don’t worry about the outside. We have a lot of guys that have so-called been knocked around by local management in other organizations but they don’t have to prove it to them.”
Bargnani and Larkin don’t come to the Nets with high expectations. But he hopes that the two can have a fresh start, with some grounding, in Brooklyn.
“We’re not looking backwards with him, we’re looking forward,” King said of Bargnani. “That’s something we told him when we reached out and tried to get him to come here, is you can have a fresh start. We’re not looking at anything you did in Toronto, anything you did in the Knicks. We’re looking at you to come in and be a part of the team. … Don’t worry about living up to anybody else’s expectations but yours.”
As for Larkin, King repeated what he’d said in July about the 5’11” guard: he called him at midnight on July 1st, the first moment he could, to recruit him to Brooklyn. “I said to Shane, just be who you were coming out of Miami and you’ll be fine.”