Monday, May 25, 2009

Danny Thoughts - Draft Edition

This is my friend Danny. Danny has many thoughts. They will be presented here in this new recurring segment called simply....Danny Thoughts.

As the season ends, my true torment begins. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the off-season. This is the time of year when people, like me, fantasize about every little move their team and the other teams could make. Neurosis does not describe the insanity that goes through my head during this time. There's no such thing as being rational. Comments like “How could we get Amare Stoudamire on this team” and “We absolutely have a chance at Lebron in 2010” pop into my head and linger for a handful of days. These few moments provide a long enough time for me to formulate a ridiculously lop-sided deal to make these things happen…

Sigh… if only we were in the post-season…

My favorite part about the offseason is the insanity I bring to the table when talking about the NBA Draft. The Nets have the 11th pick this year (no man’s land) and God FUCK-it, we will get the PERFECT player for us this year! After my year round analysis and excessive bothering of my friends, I’ve decided that at our position and based on our needs, we should draft one of three types of players:

1. Defensive SG/SF: They just need SOMEONE who can guard the perimeter and take pressure off of Devin Harris, since he is carrying a large load on offense. My picks would be:

Gerald Henderson: He is athletic, a very good defender, ATHLETIC, has an inconsistent jumper, ATHLETIC, and plays hard all the time. But, he's not a consistent scorer and is a Dukie, which could cause me serious agitation.

Wayne Ellington: Now, I’ll be frank here. I’m a huge UNC fan and I love this kid’s game. He doesn’t take over games all the time but his defense is very solid, especially playing in the passing lanes. When he catches and shoots, he hits almost everything. He’s got role player written all over him but what do the Nets need at this position? Someone who can play D and hit the open J. This kid can do that. Most importantly he reminds of Kerry Kittles. And I love Kerry Kittles.

Sam Young: Is he a SG or a SF? I don’t know! But I do know that this kid definitely plays defense real well and can hit the occasional jumper. He’s very athletic, but can’t really create for himself; therefore, he’s a catch-and-shoot type of guard/forward. I also saw him hit some big shots and have some big games when his team needed him. He’s from a tough-minded Pitt team and OK in my book!

Stephen Curry: 6’3”? Really? I wonder… He is an absolutely outstanding shooter with a quick release and moves terrifically without the ball. He seems like a shorter version of Rip Hamilton. However, I worry about him on D. The effort will be there and, with the offense not running through him, he’ll have much more energy to play D. But, I have a point to make here. For all the people who think and say defense is all about effort, ask yourself: Could YOU guard Lebron? Kobe? Wade? Melo? Vince Carter even? It’s not all about effort; you need some inkling of athleticism. Stephen Curry is not a Vince Carter athlete. He would be TERRIFIC off of our bench and I would strongly consider trading/releasing Jarvis Hayes if we drafted this kid. He’s not really a PG, but I think he’s got the handle to be effective. I just seriously wonder about his D.

Earl Clark: I hate these types of players; they never really pan out. I mean, a PF with SF handle? Where do they play? Are they even good enough to BE a mismatch? This is just another phrase for a player not great at anything specifically (rebounding, shooting) but decent at everything. They look great in college but probably won’t pan out in the NBA. However, Jeff Green is the Chosen One to ruin this theory. Damn him, I wish he were a Net! Oh, and Rashard Lewis, Hedo Turkoglu, damnit, I’m gonna stop. But Earl Clark is not one of these players.

2. Bruising rebounding PF that can hit the occasional jump shot: I mean, they need Yi Jianlian to turn to the Dark Side or Ryan Anderson to get more consistent because our rotation this year was terrible. It was painful to watch the inconsistency and lack of production. It was also painful to see Yi or Ryan hit a jump shot one game, and totally air ball the same shot the next. Or stand on the FUCKING three point line and just wait for nothing. (On a sidenote, watching Yi shoot in practice, I learned that when he’s on, he only misses long or short, never left or right. Fix his balance Kiki.) That being said, the PF in this offense needs to have some form of a jumper or be able to play interior D and rebound well. And the contestants are:

DeJuan Blair: He is a bruiser, a hustler, a PF in a SF’s body, rebounds real well, flips 7’3” Centers from Uconn, gets into foul trouble, and finishes well. He is only 6’7”, but could he be a Paul Millsap-clone? IF ONLY. I like his toughness a lot and he is from that mentally tough Pitt team which could help kick some Yi Jianlian butt and whip him into shape.

James Johnson: This guy could be the sleeper of the draft. He can shoot it, put it on the floor, runs well in transition, rebound, handle, pass well, etc. HOWEVER, apparently he lacks focus at times and makes mental mistakes (see THE WHOLE WAKE FOREST TEAM). Other than that I don’t know too much about him except that says he improved exponentially from his freshman to sophomore year. Looks good on paper!

3. A speedy pg that passes first and moves the ball but can also finish at the rim and hit the occasional jumper (Devin’s back up not named Keyon Dooling): Devin gets hurt a lot because of his style of play (reckless, fast, a little dangerous, sometimes undisciplined). I think we need a speedy back up that moves the ball first instead of shoots first. And oh boy, there are two really FUCKING fast points guards in this year’s draft that do just that!

Ty Lawson: Another one of my UNC boys! Are you telling me that if this kid is sitting there at 11, you would not want him? He was the FASTEST player end to end in college basketball and if you watched UNC in the tourney this year, you would have seen that this guy was the reason they won the championship. He’s got terrific handle, doesn’t turn the ball over, is a much better shooter than people think, is real strong, and makes great decisions with the ball. He’s short for his position at 5’11” but he’s got terrific athleticism (yes, he can dunk), plays solid defense, and plays through pain. I haven’t even mentioned his crossover yet. Unbelievable. See how DJ Augustin did last year? This kid is WAY better.

Jonny Flynn: Another Big East player! They had an insanely competitive conference this year and it showed in how tough-minded all the players were. Sure, they didn’t have anyone in the championship game but they had 3 one seeds in the tourney this year, which tells you a lot. Jonny Flynn played amazingly well when it counted in the Big East tourney and he is also ridiculously fast. His 3 point jumper is a little suspect, but this kid can run a team. His handle is sick as he can crossover going both ways. I wish his D were better for a little guy but I think with the right tutelage, this guy could be a terrific point guard and someone I would not be angry with if Lawson and all the other players were gone.

Now here’s one of the more pressing questions. Do we draft based on position need or best player available? If this team were one player away, I would say go with position need. If we were the San Antonio Spurs, I would say stash in Europe. If we were the Phoenix Suns, I would say sell the pick and save cash. However, we are the New Jersey Nets baby! And I say we go best available player at whatever position from whatever city, state, country, universe, etc. WE NEED PLAYERS THAT CAN PLAY BASKETBALL, not Yi, not a hurt Najera, not Bobby Simmons, not Trenton Hassell. We not only need a competent big man, defensive guard, or passing PG - but an increase in overall talent. Best player available would give us more chips to trade, in the future. Outside of the top two picks, there is no one that could start for the Nets in this draft. Therefore, my final diagnosis is to get someone who could impact the game coming off the bench.

This has been Danny Thoughts. Drive home safely.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Gone Podcastin' - Part Two

I make my triumphant return to the Brad Bogner show. Give it a listen for playoff talk and general rants about pop culture. Click here to visit the main Bogner show page. Make sure to become a regular Bogner show follower!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Lottery Party!

"We've got nothing better to do than watch TV and have a couple of brews." - Black Flag

So, you may remember I was invited to a Nets party that didn't happen. Well, they rectified that situation by inviting me to ANOTHER party, one that couldn't miss:

And, unlike last time, the Nets delivered on their promises. We had raffle prizes:

A guest appearance by Kiki Vandeweghe:

And, of course, my personal favorite: LIGHT REFRESHMENTS!

Chris Carrino, the Nets radio broadcaster and a total pro, hosted the event, providing commentary during the lottery process. Anyway, how did the Nets fans react? Let's find out.

All-in-all, nothing too shocking (BTW, I'm saying "Bucks", not "Fuck"). It should be an interesting series of crazy mock drafts, but you know how I feel about those. Anyway, next week I'll have a special guest post by my friend Danny who will break down some of the Nets' draft prospects, since I don't watch college basketball and know nothing about that shit.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Random Nets Crap - Joe Netsfan 2002-2003 Nets Greeting Card

As a long-time Nets fan, I've compiled a shitload of Nets memorabilia and freebies throughout the years. Dating back to 2001, I've made dedicated effort to save almost everything. Now, feast your eyes on the more ridiculous and obscure paraphernalia in a blog feature I call....RANDOM NETS CRAP!

2002-2003 Nets Team Greeting Card

Click on images to enlarge

From left to right: Brandon Armstrong, Chris Childs, Jason Collins, Lucious Harris, Richard Jefferson, Anthony Johnson, Jason Kidd, Kerry Kittles, Kenyon Maritn, Dikembe Mutumbo, Rodney Rogers, Brian Scalabrine, Tamar Slay, Aaron Williams, Joe Netsfan

From left to right: Sly the Fox

Again, this is just further proof that I don't throw anything out. These were sold on Joe Netsfan was a site I discovered towards the end of the 2000-2001 Nets season. In 2001, a website talking about sports from a fans point of view? What a novel concept! Currently, every idiot with a keyboard has his or her own blog (howdy there!), but Joe's was one of the early pioneers of Internet fortune and glory. It started in the 00-01 season, and after that the Nets became contenders - leading many fans to dub it "the website that turned around a franchise!"

The writing and analysis was great, but the part of the site that drew me in was the illustrations by his partner, Champagne. Just look at the card above, and tell me those aren't great and hilarious. Let me show you a few other Nets legends from the site:

Vince Carter

Stephon Marbury

Kendall Gill

Keith Van Horn

If you go to the Archives page, you can find a bunch more. It is definitely worth a look.

The above card was purchased in 2002, through the Joe Netsfan Cafepress store. I believe he had to stop selling things with the Nets player images on them, but I'm glad I could snag something illegal! Other things I had purchased from him were Joe Netsfan stickers and this snazzy "Keep the Nets in New Jersey" shirt:


Yes, while I am pro-Brooklyn now (well, I'm pro-anywhere near NY/NJ), I was a proud Jersey-ite back in the day. I even attended the Joe Netsfan led rally to keep the Nets in New Jersey!

During the Nets hey-day (2001 to 2004), I remember Joe Netsfan's fanbase growing. It received coverage in local newspapers, tons of people wrote in e-mails, and there were frequent fan articles and contributions (even a couple "Heckles" myself!) But, I sort of lost track with Joe Netsfan over the years, and it looks like the site is defunct, with almost no updates in 2009. In his last update, he mentioned he had some health issues, so I hope all is well in the Netsfan family.

Joe Netsfan is one of several influences to myself and this blog - as well as Ball Don't Lie, Bill Simmons, Basketbawful, etc. So, Joe, if you are reading this, please come back! And tell Champagne to crank out some more great illustrations! The world needs to see Devin Harris and Brook Lopez as cartoon characters!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

SWN hearts BDL

Another week, another link from Ball Don't Lie. Thank you for reading, everybody!

I was SUPPOSED to go to this tonight:

But, in typical Nets fashion, they scheduled this a week ago, not thinking it would fall on a night where there is only one basketball game that starts after 9. This team even loses in the offseason. Sigh.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Celtics-Bulls? Give Me Nets-Pacers Any Day!

"Yeah, well, you know, that's just, like, your opinion, man." - The Dude

This past April, the basketball world fell in love with a sexy new babe called Bulls-Celtics First Round 2009. It had 5 nail-biting games featuring seven over-time periods. People quickly dubbed it the GREATEST FIRST ROUND SERIES EVER, with some even arguing that it may be the GREATEST SERIES EVER! Well, personally, I thought it was a tad overrated. For my money, the greatest first round series is the Nets-Pacers series from 2002. Crazy? Maybe. But here's my case:

1 vs. 8 is more thrilling than 2 vs. 7

I think this goes without saying. It is more interesting to see the favorite struggling against the underdog, rather than the second favorite struggling against the second underdog.

In addition, a close 1 vs. 8 series is such a rare gem compared to a 2 vs. 7 series. Since the NBA adopted the 16-team format in 1984, the one seeds have swept the eight seed 23 times, they have gone to game 5/7 9 times, and the eight seed has beaten the one seed 3 times. A two seed has swept the seven seed 15 times, they have gone to game 5/7 17 times, and there have been 4 upsets. So a series like the Bulls-Celtics is almost twice as likely as a series like the Nets-Pacers.

Furthermore, it is worth mentioning that Kevin Garnett being injured makes Boston slightly worse than their record would indicate, and the John Salmons mid-season trade makes Chicago slightly better than their record would indicate. It just felt like you were watching a 3 vs. 6 or 4 vs. 5 series.

5 > 7

That's not a math error or a typo. Call me old school, but I love a 5 game series. The games just mean more (1.4 times more to be precise). There was no dramatic or aesthetic reason for expanding the first round to 7 games, anyway. It was all done as a money grab. Can't say I fault them, but it does hurt the drama, as a team can more easily recover from a loss.

Franchise History

Ok, the Celtics-Bulls have a long rivalry and have accounted for a bunch of championships, so I'll give them the nod. But, let's not underrate the ABA rivals meeting up in the playoffs for the first time! And as all basketball fans know, everything associated with the ABA is 30% funkier.

We all know that the underdogs have nothing to lose. What does the favorite have to lose?

Celtics: A franchise with the most NBA championships, including one the previous year. Their best player is injured, and due to that, they are not expected to win it this year. A loss in this series would be sad, but all those guys have rings to console them.

Nets: A laughing stock franchise that won 50 games for the first time in their nearly 30-year NBA history. Jason Kidd led the team to double their win total from the previous season, and is considered an MVP candidate. They need to win this series to prove that they are for real. A loss in this series would make a mockery of their best season. Also, I probably would've killed myself.

I'd say the Net get the advantage here.

The Main Players

Celtics-Bulls: On the Celtics side, two aging stars, one rising point guard, a bunch of nice role players, and Stephon Marbury. On the Bulls side, several young players and one star point guard. To date: there are 4 All-Stars with 21 appearances. Overall, I'd say Rajon Rondo, Ben Gordon, and Derrick Rose were the clear break-out stars, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce were clutch as usual, and I'd give Joakim Noah an honorable mention. Time will tell on what the young players make of their careers.

Nets-Pacers: For the Pacers, you had a bunch of great players. Jermaine O'Neal was young and fresh off winning the Most Improved Award. Ron Artest and Brad Miller had just joined the Pacers in a mid-season trade. How familiar does that sound? Ron had not gone crazy yet, and Brad Miller could still move. And, of course, Uncle Reggie was there, in what was his last great playoff series (I consider the Tayshaun Prince block as the dagger in Uncle Reggie's clutchness). The Nets had the rising Kenyon Martin and Richard Jefferson, as well as the runner up for MVP - a guy named Jason Kidd. To date: there are 6 All-Stars with 24 appearances.

Personally, I think that the 2002 Pacers, who went on to win 48 games and 61 games the next two seasons, could have beat either the Celtics or Bulls this year. They would've been crushed at point guard (Tinsley vs. Rondo/Rose), but they are clearly dominant at the big positions with a young Jermaine O'Neal, Brad Miller, and Ron-Ron.

The Coaches

Doc Rivers. Isiah Thomas. Vinnie Del Negro. Byron Scott. That's like a murderer's row of coaching incompetence. Let's move on.

The games

Ah, here we go. The moment everyone's been waiting for. Both series had stinker games - Game 4 in 2002, Game 3 in 2009. The Nets-Pacers had 3 very exciting games - Games 1, 3, and 5 (60% of the series). However, the Celts-Bulls had 5 - Games 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6 (71% of the series).

To me, those Celts-Bulls games felt too "college-y". Too many long shots, too many poorly designed plays, too many dumb coaching decisions (such as not fouling at the end of the game while up 3). Also, there were no legit buzzer beaters. Sure, there were clutch shots, but nothing beats seeing that ball go through the net with 0.0 on the clock. There were bad calls by the officials throughout, and Rondo's hacker-y was more annoying to watch than fun.

But most importantly: the memorability of the final game is more important than all previous games. The Bulls-Celtics ended with a close, but ultimately unsatisfying conclusion. No buzzer beaters, no overtime. The Nets-Pacers Game 5, however, is an instant classic. (No exaggeration: it has been rerun a bunch of times on ESPN Classic and NBATV). It is the only NBA game EVER to end each quarter tied! Think about how unreal that is, just for a moment. Ok, now to continue: Two overtimes, including a classic Reggie shot at the end of regulation. This was before replay, so the call was wrong - but still, no drama was lost as refs looked over at a small TV for five minute. Furthermore, Reggie had a clutch dunk in the first overtime, too. I was at this game, and it is by far the best sporting event I've seen in person.

But, ultimately, I can't convince you with words alone. You'll have to see for yourself:

Nets-Pacers Game 5 OT Part 1

Nets-Pacers Game 5 OT Part 2 (The Reggie Dunk)

Nets-Pacers Game 5 2OT Part 1

Nets-Pacers Game 5 2OT Part 2

Nets-Pacers Game 5 2OT Part 3

Anyway, that's my case, take it or leave it. If anybody agrees that the Celts-Bulls is overrated, and would like to nominate their own best first round series, post your comments below!


Another shout out for the blog in the most recent NetsDaily blog. NetsDaily is easily the best Nets website, and essential reading for all Nets fans. I am also on the front page of the NetsDaily site, under the blogs link on the left side.

New post at 9:00 tonight. Thanks for reading.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Kidd Versus Martin - The Nets Fan's Dilemma

"There's two kinds of people in this world, Elvis people and Beatles people. Now Beatles people can like Elvis. And Elvis people can like the Beatles. But nobody likes them both equally. Somewhere you have to make a choice. And that choice tells me who you are." - Mia Wallace

Last Sunday, I joined my friend Jimmy at a bar to watch the Nuggets playoff game. He is from Colorado and was rooting strongly for his team. I was just a casual fan, taking my own advice by trying to absorb as many playoff games this spring as possible. But as I downed the brews, I slowly realized...

There was Jason Kidd. There was Kenyon Martin. On the court. Playing against each other.

I ran through the gamut of emotions. Confused. Shocked. Bitter. Depressed. But ultimately, I was happy for them. It has been written at length before by much better writers than me, but rooting for a sports team is a completely one-sided relationship. As a fan, you just have to take as much vicarious happiness as possible. And these two players were responsible for the best memories I have as a fan. So, it was inspiring to see them back in the playoffs, rebuilding careers that have been deteriorated by age (Kidd) and injury (Martin).

However, like the quote above implies, I have to root for one. I am sure many people watching this series just hoping to see good basketball and remain impartial. While I attempt to do this, deep down, I am always pulling for one team over the other. I have debated this in my mind. I feel like a child who's parents have divorced and are playing each other in the Western Conference semi-finals. So, time to break it down.

Kidd, without a doubt, was the MVP of the glory days of Nets basketball. He set the expectations for the team high, and carried them to two NBA Finals. While he doesn't have the best off court character, he made all his teammates better, and indirectly earned excessive contracts for Richard Jefferson, Jason Collins, Brian Scalabrine, Mikki Moore, and, yes, Kenyon Martin. Just look at Josh Boone's production since Jason Kidd left - he cost Boone a contract that could have rivaled Jerome James in the level of ridiculousness. Without question, Kidd is the greatest Nets player to wear the number 5, and will be the last player to wear that number.

Martin, on the other hand, is no where near the talent Jason Kidd was. However, he brought a fury and passion for the game that I have not seen EVER on the Nets. Screaming after dunks, the flagrant fouls, the ball-engulfing blocks, the intense commitment to defense - who was this, and did he know he was playing on the Nets. In high school, I used to bring homework to the Nets games. That's how dead it was at the arena. But when Kenyon Martin rolled into town, the Continental Arena became a frenzied place. K-Mart was, without question, the emotional leader of the team.

But enough of my ranting, I'll let Lawrence Frank break it down. Just listen to the first question of this video:

The way they left were both infuriating yet understandable. Ultimately, both wanted more money. Kenyon was young, and wanted the big contract. Since he stayed all four years at college, he was older when he rookie contract ended. He was only going to get one large contract, so he had to milk it for all he could. The Nets ended up getting a few picks back, which they parlayed into Vince Carter. Kenyon has since battled injuries, so in hindsight, the Nets were able to make the best of a bad situation.

Kidd, on the other hand, left on a more contentious note. He realized his window of opportunity was slipping, and wanted to be traded to a "contender". It was a slap in the face to the fans who supported him for 7 years. However, I think winning wasn't nearly as important as getting more money. When Thorn rejected Kidd's demand for a contract extension, that's when the powder keg ignited. On the bright side, the Nets also came out of this well, too, shedding salary, gaining a young stud in Devin Harris, and adding a few draft picks as well.

While I do not hold a grudge against Kidd, I feel I can relate to Kenyon's situation a bit more. He was a free agent, and could go wherever he wanted. Kidd was still being paid, and owed it to his employers, teammates, and fans to show respect and play through his deal in good times and bad. So, by the thinnest of margins, I'm throwing my support to Kenyon Martin. Either way, I hope the series provides great entertainment, and I'll be happy with either team winning.

Note: I'm publishing this early, because if I wait until Monday, the series may be over. I may post something new on Monday, stay tuned.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Another quick shout out

Ball Don't Lie linked to my most recent post. Again, BDL is a great blog, run by the world's most handsome Canadian! Everyone should check it out!

If this sounds familiar, it is because I talked about this last week. If you are new, please make sure to keep checking this blog out each week, sign up as a follower, tell your friends, etc. Thanks again, all you beautiful people!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Random Nets Crap - 97-98 Jayson Williams Commemorative Coin

"In eleven years its going to be 1984, man. Think about that!" - Russell Hammond

(Click on images to enlarge)

Wow, it is amazing what 11 years can do. In 1998, Jayson Williams was the emotional leader of the Nets, and was one of the most charismatic players in the league. There were tons of great PR stories about him, too, such as how he took care of his mother with Parkinson's and adopted his sister's children after she passed away from AIDS.

On a personal level, he was one of my favorite players at the time. I casually followed the Nets in 1995, and became a full-fledged fan in 1996. When I waited outside for autographs after the game, Jayson Williams would come out of his car and sign autographs for everybody. In fact, in sixth grade, we had a project where we had to send a teddy bear to different parts of the world. While other kids gave it to relatives or other family friends, I gave it to Jayson Williams after a game. Needless to say, I never got it back, as it most likely became target practice.

This coin, as ugly as it may be, is from my 4th favorite Nets season so far (2001-2004 being the clear numbers 1, 2, and 3). It is when I saw my team become, in a word, good. And Jayson Williams was the first Net I ever saw as an All-Star. It might have been the first (and maybe last) All-Star game I watched in its entirety, just to see "my guy" play.

However, 11 years later, he has done a complete 180 on his image. An unfortunate injury ruined his career in 1999, and he has not been able to stay out of trouble since. Everybody knows the story: He got drunk, shot a limo driver, and tried to cover it up. And, last week, it did not get any better.

However, this got me thinking: how have my perspectives changed on other key players from the 1997-1998 New Jersey Nets? Let's take a look:

Keith Van Horn

THEN: Oh. My. God. Larry Bird re-incarnate! A rookie, who, coming off injury, averaged 20/7 and led his team to the playoffs? Hell. Fucking. Yes.

NOW: Most people say he was soft and a bust, but I still feel we missed his presence in the 2003 Finals. According to Jayson Williams' book Loose Balls, Jayson was a mentor to Keith and gave him confidence on the court. While I've lost all trust in Williams now, I feel he's telling the truth here, as Van Horn's confidence and game went downhill once Williams left the team. He never became a franchise player, but sure got paid like one. He spent his final years as a journeyman, showed some signs of life in Dallas, and then retired because he didn't like basketball. But, he did play a key role in getting the Nets Devin Harris, so in the end I'd say he was a solid contributor to the Nets.

Sam Cassell

THEN: I'll admit, I didn't full appreciate Sam I Am while he was here. I thought he was too cocky and a ballhog - the games where he'd score 30+ points were games the Nets would usually lose. Plus, remember how I said Jayson Williams would sign everyone's autographs? Sammy would drive around the parking lot 4 times while kids chased the car, before rolling down the window and signing about 10 autographs. Jerk. I remember actually liking the Marbury trade.

NOW: Clearly, I was wrong (nothing new). Sam Cassell's stint on the Nets became a hallmark of his career - leading bad franchises to new heights. He did it with the 2002 Bucks, the 2004 Timberwolves, and the 2006 Clippers. Throw in 3 championship rings, and he's definitely going down as one of the most underrated players of my lifetime.

Kerry Kittles & Kendall Gill

THEN: Great wingmen. Gill was a scoring machine, and Kittles was the future of the franchise. I remember arguing that I'd rather have Kerry Kittles than Ray Allen.

NOW: Little did I realize that Gill was blazing the trail for other "good stats on a bad team" players with questionable personalities like Ricky Davis, Stephen Jackson, and Gerald Wallace. Gill really soured himself with me during the 2000 offseason. The Nets were desperate for a shooting guard and Gill was flirting with the Lakers - saying it was always a dream to wear the purple and gold and he'd take a paycut to win a championship. He rejected a 3 year, $15M deal from the Nets, and eventually settled on a one year, $7M deal. But, he phoned it in that year, playing on 31 games. Byron Scott, while not naming Gill specifically, said he was "stealing money." Gill never won a championship with the Lakers, or any other team. He never made up the $8M he would've gotten on the other contract, either, earning about $4.5M over the next 4 season on veteran's minimum contracts. Goes to show you: Karma's a bitch, Kendall.

EDIT 5/6: Looks like I might be wrong on those Kendall numbers, see the link in the comments below. But anyway, Kendall joined the Heat the following year and became part of the first Pat Riley team to miss the playoffs. You might have done better financially than I thought, but karma still owns you, Gill!

Kerry, on the other hand, is still a golden idol in my eyes. He valiantly fought back from multiple knee surgeries, and played 229 games out of 246 games in the next three seasons, hitting clutch shots and playing great defense on the 3 best Nets teams ever. He had to retire early due to injury (I hear he has trouble lifting his kids), but still attends Nets functions. He gave his all to this franchise, and out of all the players I'm profiling, he has held up the strongest over the 11 years.

John Calipari

THEN: I loved this coach. He was very passionate, constantly jumping up and down on the sidelines. In my young, 13-year-old mind, he was responsible for turning this team into a future contender. Granted, I didn't know much about what impact an NBA coach has. And I am still a little unclear...

NOW:...but I do know college coaches are self-serving egotists that never succeed in the NBA. John Calipari lost the team after the lockout and was gone shortly. I still pick Memphis to win in the tournament, but more as a joke rather than as an actual way to win the bracket pool (although they came close in 2008). I'll probably be picking Kentucky next year, too. But I really wish this guy would stop crying about how he wanted to pick Kobe.

The General

THEN: Sherman Douglas was a great veteran leader for this young team. Sam was still young and immature as a leader at this time, and Sherman would come in during many games and right the ship. This season was the greatest season a Nets backup point guard ever had.

NOW: I still believe this. We could've used a Sherman Douglas type in the 2001-2004 years. Keyon Dooling, though, put up a strong campaign this year and earned himself the award of second best season by a Nets backup point guard.

Chris Gatling

THEN: Whiny bitch with a head scar.

NOW: Whiny bitch with a head scar.

Rony Seikaly

THEN: Damn you! The Nets traded for you and lost 7 straight! You suck! David Benoit held the team together! Chemistry ruiner! We could have drafted Pat Garrity! Fucking awful trade! DIE DIE DIE!

NOW: Boy, he married well.

And. I'm. Spent. See you next week everyone!