Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Eighteen, I Get Confused Everyday

Eighteen. I just don't know what to say.

I've gotta get out of this place. I'll go running in outer space.

Well, I've been in New Orleans the past week, but returned home. Boy, did I miss quite a weekend. I'm going to ditch the "Three Point Land" format, since everybody already knows the scores and the games. But, I will be updating the blog regularly, at least every three games (if not more).

The Nets are now the greatest of all losers. It is quite an accomplishment. As a fan, I know I am powerless. I am not personally involved with the team's performance in any tangible way. So, rationally, I should be able to let this slide and get on with my day. Unfortunately, that's not the case.

Every time something awful happens to another team in sports, I do get a sense of joy. "Schadenfreude" is not quite the correct word, as I am not actively rooting for these events to happen. It was wonderful watching the Mavs lose to the Warriors, and the Detroit Lions go 0-16. Hell, I even found some satisfaction in the Yankees blowing a 3-0 lead against Boston, even though I am a Yankees fan. Why?

Because at least these things did not happen to the Nets.

Now, I cannot say that. The Nets were always able to skirt by the public with a low profile. Last week, I compared their franchise history to the Knicks and Magic. Both teams have had ups and downs, but the last 20 years of each franchise has been pretty unremarkable.

But, yesterday the Nets entered the record book as the first team to start 0-18. And, I have a feeling they will be entering the record book again at the end of the season. They are now in the rankings of the Clippers, Cubs, Pirates, Lions, etc. The feeling is pretty awful.

As a fan, the natural instinct is to find a scapegoat. And really, at 0-18, everyone is guilty in some degree. Management blamed ex-coach Frank, who I will discuss this weekend, after Coach Kiki's first game. The more I read about that whole situation, the more complicated it becomes. Ex-players like Kidd and Martin have blamed Ratner. I hate that guy as well, but aside from the Summer of 2004, he has been pretty hands-off. Sure, the Nets were working with a limited budget, but so are 75% of the other teams in the NBA.

For now, my blame on this goes to Rod Thorn. He has always been savvy with the media - I think his folksy drawl weakens their defenses. I'll admit, he's a hard man to criticize. But, in 2004 and 2007, he acted like a crooked Wall Street CEO, making rash short-term decisions that have finally caught up with him in the long-term. I speak, of course, of Richard Jefferson's and Vince Carter's contract extensions.

In 2004, after losing Kenyon Martin, fans were fuming, and Thorn panicked. He exceedingly overpaid Richard Jefferson to the tune of $78 million over six years. In 2007, in a bidding war with nobody, Thorn extended an aging Vince Carter for $60 million over four years. The latter contract pissed off Kidd, destroying the 2007-08 season and forcing this rebuilding process to occur. These two contracts became albatrosses, and the team had to gut its talent to take them off the books. Basically, the Nets let their second-best player, emotional leader, and starting power forward go to overpay their small forward, and resigned a shooting guard to sell a few tickets instead of their franchise changing point guard.

But, the blame game sucks. I'd rather play Hungry Hungry Hippos.

Anyway, I try to remain annoyingly positive, as this too shall pass. The previous record holder was the 88-89 Miami Heat, and they ended up winning a championship 17 years later. (What? They beat the Nets in the second round that year with dicey calls and a dumb suspension on Cliff Robinson? Fuck. Let me do another example).

The worst team of all-time is the 72-73 Sixers, and they won a championship ten years later. (What? They won because the Nets had to sell them their franchise leader and future Hall of Famer Julius Erving? Um...)


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