If You Like the Nets, You’ll Love Andray Blatche

If You Like the Nets, You’ll Love Andray Blatche
Image courtesy of @drayblatche.

Note: Andrew Gnerre is a brand new writer here at Nets are Scorching. Andrew was born a New Jersey Nets fan and thought he was going to die as such during the 12-70 campaign. He is the founder of NBA website NoRegard.net and writes for entertainment upstart Greenlight Magazine. His seats at the Barclays Center are in Section 206, so stop by if you ever want to hear a grown man get worked up over Lucious Harris’ underpraised worth. Give him a Twitter follow at @NoRegardBlog. Today, Andrew talks Andray Blatche.

The recent changes to the Nets organization have been swift and complete. In just a few months, the mantra surrounding the team has gone from “Never worked in New Jersey” to “Can’t fail in Brooklyn.” They’ve spent about as much money as you can spend on NBA players, retained a superstar free agent, unveiled a new logo that’s become a bit of a fashion statement and crashed the preseason playoff discussion like drunk trust fund kids. In short, they’ve created a type of buzz (for both on- and off-court reasons) that has never orbited the Nets before. The distance they’ve put between the old team and the current group is much farther than Jersey to Brooklyn.

This is all, obviously, a blessing for fans — but it’s an off-putting reality for us Nets lifers. It’s an odd feeling to look at the roster and know that players with sub-15.00 PERs aren’t the team’s only hope, but benchwarmers. It’s strange to know that the players with questionable attitudes and unreliable histories have been purged. It’s straight creepy that there’s not one guy on the roster that was going to make me cringe whenever his sneakers touched the hardwood. The organization has become a bit unrecognizable (by design). They’re still the Nets, but barely.

I know it’s an odd way to support a team that’s turning a corner in the right direction, but the sentimental part of me is wistful. Call it nostalgia. Call it idiocy. Call it fandom.

But then, they signed Andray Blatche. And there was balance once again.

That awkward, dreaded comfort rushed back. Images of Ed O’Bannon, Zoran Planinic, Yinka Dare, Josh Boone, Rodney Buford, Sean Williams flooded my senses. These players were Nets in every twisted, maligned, awful — thus, traditional — sense of the word. I disliked these players very much. Because they were untalented or didn’t seem to care or probably both. I understand that all teams are forced to give minutes to sub-par players here and there, but the Nets have had to do so more often than most. In fact, bad players have pretty much been the defining characteristic of Nets culture in the team’s 35-year history.

And just as management successfully eradicated such players from the team, filling the Nets roster with an unprecedented level of competency — and thus finally fulfilling their once-flat “It’s All New” promise — they go and restore stability to Nets fandom with one simple, unguaranteed contract. Andray Blatche is a Net. Andray Blatche has always been a Net.

His lack of effort is Coleman-esque. His refusal to play help defense is Jianlian-ian. His Lapdance Tuesdays evoke the cluelessness of a young Sean Williams. He is a glorious parade of past Net failures. But just think: Any time you talk with a fellow Net fan about one of those guys, it’s an uncommonly enjoyable discussion. Your eyes light up. You share your seething. You get catharsis. It’s a fairly ugly facet of human nature, but shared dislike is often a more powerful bonding agent than shared adoration. This is especially true in sports; collective disappointment can be an awfully satisfying part of fandom. Many wear their team’s failures as badges of something positive. It’s how we stay alive. Nets fans are no different. Phrases like “Travis OutLOL” and “12-70” are now a proud part of fan vernacular, meant to illustrate the endurance and perseverance of our unlucky lot. So why must we give up these hard-earned emblems of fandom just because the team we root for is trying with all its might to sever any link to this dreary past? We put in the work, let us reap the spoils.

Andray Blatche is our link to that history. Embrace his flaws and you embrace Nets basketball.

Yes, these half-baked thoughts are just me trying to justify what I think could be a kind of damaging signing, but can’t you please afford this old man one quick bit of rationalization?

I — and I’m sure you — sincerely hope that Andray Blatche turns out to be a bright spot on the Nets bench. If he can play even serviceable minutes, he’ll make the Nets suddenly strong bench even deeper. Watching this 26-year-old finally settle in and succeed after years of disappointment would undoubtedly make for an engaging story. Seeing the biggest question mark on the Nets roster unexpectedly triumph would be the strongest possible sign of the organization’s new culture of winning. Simply: Having a 6’11” dude capable of a few points and few rebounds a game would be close to bliss.

If not? Well, no worries. At least we get to see one more true Net. For old time’s sake.