Monday, September 28, 2009

The Russians Have Landed

Last Wednesday, the Nets were purchased by Russian billionaire and nickel-king Mikhail Prokhorov. Since then, two things have happened: I have learned to spell his name correctly without looking it up, and I have organized my thoughts on the matter by famous Simpsons quotes!

1. "I reluctantly accept your proposal." "Well everyone always does. Buy him out boys!"

I hope smashing Bruce Ratner's office is Prokhorov's first order of business. Now that the Rat "error" has come to a close, I think Nets fans are all in agreement when I say: hit the road, fuckface.

Seriously, the one thing this guy had to do was move the team eight miles and build a new stadium. And what did he accomplish? No ground was broken. None. However, that didn't stop him from running out of money and causing the team to go from perennial contender to a lottery team due to having no budget. Not only did he bring nothing to the table, he took off all the food and silverware from the table, then burned the table to the ground and pee-peed on the ashes. ASS. HOLE.

Now, I know the Rat isn't completely gone, but he's only got a 20% stake in the Nets at the moment, so he's almost out the door.

2. "Oh I get it! I get jokes!"

Hey, did you hear that the Nets' new owner is Russian? Boy, I don't know how comedy will ever been derived from that fact....Wait, people have found clever ways to make puns about having a Russian owner?

Yes, it has been less than a week, and I'm already getting sick of these poor attempts at humor. Granted, I make many awful jokes, but at least mine make you groan on a variety of topics. Now, Nets (or should I say, Nyets!) fans must prepare themselves for Soviet-based puns. If the Nets are moving at a slow pace, expect the color commentators to say they are Stalin. But, when the pace picks up, now the Nets are Russian. You'll be laughing so hard, you'll miss the game action by wiping the tears out of your eyes.

Ooh, I got one! In Soviet Russia, annoying jokes get sick of you! Get it?

3. "We regret to announce the following lay-offs, which we will read in alphabetical order. Simpson, Homer....That is all."

Rod Thorn and Lawrence Frank are in the last years of their contracts, and, while I have no information to base this on, I have a hunch that neither one will be back. Personally, I think both have done a fine job building this team - they have young talent and plenty of cap space, so it will be a shame if they are both gone without having a chance to finish the mini-rebuilding process they embarked on in the last two seasons. But, my guess is as good as yours, so I won't delve much into who might replace them or the ramifications of losing them. I'd just be pulling that out of my ass.

4. "Well he's got all the money in the world but there's one thing he can't buy." "What's that?" "....A dinosaur."

If you read the reactions of Nets fans on the Internets (and yes, there are more of them than just me), the general reaction is positive. To sum up the general viewpoint - a rich owner means more money to lure quality free agents, which means more wins. Well, the two other richest owners are Mark Cuban of the Dallas Mavericks and Paul Allen of the Portland Trailblazers. Do you see any rings on their fingers? How about James Dolan? In the NBA, having money does help, but it does not guarantee success. Also, there will be a huge learning curve for Prokhorov as he adjusts from managing Russian teams to American ones.

So, pencil me in as cautiously cautious. I know I ripped into Ratner, but truth be told, it still could be a lot worse than him (see Sterling, Donald). That's all I've got on this owner for now, and I'm sure I will write about him more times in the coming months. But as for now, I have to go learn the Russian curse words. Idi na xuy husesos!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Trips Through Memory Lane

We're still in the dog-days of the NBA offseason. I was able to kill time with some nicknames, but we're still over a month away from tip-off. I don't feel like analyzing a trade that may not be completed about 2016, and I don't want to talk about the possibility of a scary Russian taking over the team. So, let's dig into the memory banks, and I'll kill more time talking about my favorite season: 2001-02.

As everyone is well aware, that was the franchise's best season, and also the first time I felt "rewarded" for following the team. Not "rewarded" in the physical, "here's a reversible jersey, you gullible fool!" sense, but rather on an emotional level. Following a sports team is a thankless, one-sided relationship built on subjective loyalty and vicarious emotions. I am just a customer, paying to be entertained. But, during this season, I was able to shelve this logic and enjoy the ride.

(Also, I was 17, so my hormones were making me a seething cauldron of testosterone. Since there were no girls in my life, sports became that much more important. Although, perhaps it was because sports were so important that there were no girls in my life. Whatever. Onward!)

As the Nets piled up wins that season, they gained the attention of North Jersey. Being one of the few Nets fans at my high school, people would come up and congratulate me on the team's success, as if I had anything to do with it. People I never had much conversations with would ask me how I felt about the team's recent success. It was like I just became a father. Or, more accurately, I was the father of a perpetual fuck up, and he finally got accepted into Montclair State.

There were many landmark games in that season, but I always felt the Nets turned the page in a game I was at in January, when the Nets played the Spurs and won on a last minute Kerry Kittles drive. That's when I knew this was a potential championship team. Thinking back, there are many classic moments to choose from, such as Nets-Pacers Game 5 (as chronicled already by myself here), or Game 6 of the Nets-Celtics series.

However, the one that is overlooked is Game 4 of the 2002 Eastern Semi-Finals versus the Charlotte Hornets. The Hornets were a "dark horse" team that year, with a solid scoring attack of Baron Davis, Jamal Mashburn, and David Wesley, with solid bigs in PJ Brown, Elden Campbell, and a young Jamaal Magliore. In the previous game, the Nets lost as Jason Kidd went down in a bloody heap. He collided with David Wesley, and blood streamed out of a cut above his eye. As I watched it, I felt my heart sank. How serious was this injury? Is the season over?

But, in came our hero for Game 4, with a giant band-aid over his eyebrow. This game was on Mother's Day, and my family took my grandmother to the Meadowlands racetrack (important lesson learned: while a stroke may take away your ability to walk and talk, it can't take away your love of gambling). I've been there several times, and usually they'd have TV screens with filled with racing information, and a couple tuned to whatever local sport is on (such as baseball). This time, over a third, maybe half, the TVs were switched to the Nets game. We got a table in the Pegasus restaurant area, and switched the little TV on the table to the game. During the game, the Meadowlands staff would walk by and glance at the score on our TV. I specifically remember seeing a guy peaking over the wall separating our table from the betting section to see the game. It was the first time I felt that there was a Nets "community" - not just a few die-hards like us on the internet, but a whole area of northern NJ that legitimately wanted this team to win. Or were bandwagoners. Whatever, there's room for everybody!

Thinking back, you have to cherish moments like this. I remember watching the Denver in the playoffs this year, and they would continuously show graphics pointing out that this was the furthest Denver had gone in the playoffs in 25 years. It might be another 20 years before the Nets ever see this kind of success. But, it is memories like this (and the rest of the season) which makes the money and time wasted following sports all worthwhile. I hate to admit it, but choosing to continue to follow the Nets this season was a very difficult decision. Quite frankly, I don't trust the management to use the cap space efficiently next off-season. However, each season brings new hope...remember, there's still a chance!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Gone Podcastin' Part 4

Just a heads up everybody, yesterday I made my fourth appearance on the award-winning Brad Bogner Show. You can listen to it by going here. Make sure not to miss an episode by subscribing to it on iTunes.

Quick shout outs to Nets are Scorching and Ball Don't Lie for showing me the love this week.

Counting down the days to tip-off is extremely boring, so please e-mail me and Nets related questions/rants/haikus and I'll post them here for your amusement! E-mail address is on the sidebar.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Random Nets Crap - Nets Bobbleheads

Boy, it has been a long-ass time since I did one of these. Time to dust off the old intro:

As a long-time Nets fan, I've compiled a shitload of Nets memorabilia and freebies throughout the years. Now, feast your eyes on the more ridiculous and obscure paraphernalia in a blog feature I call....RANDOM NETS CRAP!

Ah, there. So what's on the platter?


As opposed to Meanie Babies, bobbleheads are a classic sporting event give-away that never goes out of style. The other week at a Mets game, I received a Frankie Rodriguez Bobblehead, with a disturbing O-face pose (I'm not going to post a pic, since this is a Nets blog. You'll just have to look at to find it). I'm not exactly sure when these were released, but I'm assuming sometime between 2000 and 2003. I'll run through them in the order I remember them being released, starting with the player who truly defines "bobblehead"...

Stephon Marbury

By now, most basketball fans have accepted Marbury is a basket-case, but Nets fans have known this since 1999. The Marbury days were possibly the bleakest time as a Nets fan, where there was no cap space, no young prospects, and tons of injuries. There seemed to be no light at the end of the tunnel. While this Nets season looks ominous, I definitely feel more confident about the future of the team than I did 9 years ago.

Marbury's descent into madness was only vexing in how inordinately predictable it was. The best part about Stephon Marbury's basketball career was watching the fans in Phoenix and New York talk themselves into rooting for him, just as Nets fans had done previously, and then, months later, watching their unconditional love turn into deadly venom.

By the way, the head came off of this figure years ago, I don't recall how:

I swear, this was unintentional (as I take good care of all my material possessions). But, it seems very symbolic of his future.

Oh, and he has his "Coney Island's Finest" tattoo on his bobblehead. Is that the first bobblehead with tattoos? If so, kudos to the toy designer for breaking the tattoo barrier.

Next up is Stephon Marbury's life-long friend:

Keith Van Horn

If you sift through my archives, you will find a profuse amount of words on Keith Van Horn. When I come up with a Bill Simmons-esque theory comparing Keith Van Horn to Eagle Eye Cherry, I will post it immediately. As for now, just marvel at the aesthetics of this bobblehead. When I close my eyes and think of the color white, I see this shape. A nice addition to the bobblehead (in comparison to the Stephon Marbury predecessor) is the name along the base. This way, future generations won't confuse him for other white Nets players like Boki Nachbar or Ryan Anderson.

Next up, the captain...


Er, uh...

Jason Kidd

You know everything I said about the Marbury Nets above? Just reverse it for the Jason Kidd Nets. Next week, I'll share my favorite Nets memory regarding Jason.

This bobblehead, however, is not one of them. Two things: they moved the ball to be in front of his jersey, so you cannot see his number; and they added a dumb little sponsor (Foot Locker). Despite this, I'll be taking much better care of this bobblehead than the two previous examples, as it might actually be worth something in 20 years. I mean, can you think of a better Nets icon to be represented in bobblehead form? Well, there is one possibility...

Sly the Silver Fox

Ah, Sly. You've gotten your own car, you're own month in a calendar, and now your own bobblehead! For a fox representing a franchise whose team name and state has no association with foxes, I'd see you've done quite well for yourself.

And, must I say, this is a sharply designed bobblehead. Yes, it does have a crappy little sponsor at the bottom. But the pose is cool, the blue uniform is snazzier than the tighty whiteys, and the silver lettering is a nice touch.

Since these four, I cannot recall more Nets bobbleheads. They had a Vince Carter one the other year, but it was a smaller one that is not in scale with classic bobbleheads (I ended up breaking that one, unfortunately). With attendance numbers sagging, I say it is time to bring back the bobbleheads! I'm sure it would get a more positive reception than that damn reversible jersey idea.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Look Who's Honoring Me Now

In the past week, I've received some nice shout outs on Nets Are Scorching and Ball Don't Lie. As always, I encourage you to visit these fine gentlemen's blogs. And to all of my loyal readers who aren't honoring've got some nerve!

As always, thank you for your continued support. Any feedback is greatly appreciated, so leave comments or send e-mails. See you Monday.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Me to Nets Marketing Department: "You're Welcome!"

Patty: The easiest way to be popular is to leech off the popularity of others.
Selma: So we propose changing our name from "Springfield to "Seinfeld".

The Nets finished making their offseason moves on draft night, giving Nets fans nothing to discuss for over 70 days and counting. They have been coping in various ways; some have decided to go outside and get fresh air, bloggers have resorted to creating gimmick months, and still others have...shudder...watched the summer league. With interest in the team waning and season tickets moving like cold cakes, Brett Yormark unleashed this:

The Nets Reversible Jersey Ticket Plan

This became big news on August 13th. However, on August 12th, my friend Danny and I were invited to the Nets' training facility for an event that was designed to get ticket holders from last season to renew. The event began with three games:

- A trivia contest, which was a piece of cake. I'm like Rain Man when it comes to the Nets.

- Knock-out. I wanted to be knocked out immediately for two reasons: this game is overly exhausting, and there were five or six little girls in the knock-out line, meaning the potential for embarrassment was higher than normal. So I stood in front of Danny, took a half-assed free throw that ricocheted to the left and sailed past the 3-point line, and that was as far as I got in Knock-out.

- NETS, their version of HORSE. And I was money, hitting long-distance threes and shots with my eyes closed. It was down to me and the Nets employee running the show, both of us tied with two letters. Then, Danny made my opponent aware of my fatal flaw: I can't hit lay-ups. An up-and-under and a head-grabbing lay-up later, and I was eliminated. Danny summed it up best: I fulfilled every stereotype of white basketball players. I couldn't dribble or hit lay-ups, but I could hit 3s.

After shooting around, they led us inside for "Nets Make a Deal". My gambling side came out, and I turned down two good prizes to see what was behind curtain number 3. My prize? A Sly Fox key chain. Epic fail. After that, I enjoyed some refreshments and bitched about the team to my ticket representative. It was then when she first showed me this 10-game plan with the jerseys.

I have to be honest: I liked the plan, and did not foresee the controversy it would bring. I am not a jersey-wearing guy, but I did think it would be cool to get the Nets starting line-up. Plus, that's pretty much ten of the best games you could ask for as Nets fan: seeing Vince, Kidd, and RJ. I'm not that interested in seeing the Lakers, Heat, and Cavs because none of their players interest me outside of their one big star. It is always fun to play other division teams like the Celtics and Knicks, and I am interested in the young guns on the Clips. If only they added Atlanta and Golden State for Twin's and Mikki's respective returns.

But, I now see how and why people are upset about this. It is pretty ridiculous to be selling your opponents' merchandise to say the least. When I was talking to a friend about what blog articles I had lined up, I mentioned this marketing gimmick. He was not a Nets fan, but was shocked that this was a real promotion. Nets management was in complete spin control immediately after, posting on their facebook account, asking the fans about their opinion of the promotion and ideas for other incentives.

Brett Yormark is the mastermind behind this controversy. He did go to the NBA front offices for approval before launching the campaign, so clearly he knew that there was the possibility of backlash. His main argument in favor of the promotion is that the Nets cater to both Nets fans and NBA fans. To be honest, he is correct. The Nets have used other teams' stars to sell tickets as long as I can remember. One of the first Nets games I went to was against the Orlando Magic. My mom told me she would hope that Shaq or Penny was not injured so I would not be disappointed. And, it happens all across the league, as teams like the Cavs and Lakers sell out other teams' arenas.

So, I cannot reject Yormark's argument. However, I believe I have the solution:

Throw-Forward Jerseys!

(Image by GMJ of the NetsDaily forums)

So, the one side has the current Nets on the roster: Harris, Lee, The Butler, Yi, and Brook. On the other side is a potential 2010 free agent. I would go with Dwyane Wade, Joe Johnson, LeBron James, Carlos Boozer, and Amare Stoudemire. However, the other side has these players in Nets uniforms! Imagine LeBron showing up to an arena, and seeing nearly 20,000 fans (okay, more like 8,000) donning his potential Nets jersey. How could he not sign here?

Alternatively, the Nets could do this same promotion, but using the top prospects of the 2010 draft. The five I would use are Derrick Favors, Ed Davis, Johnny Wall, Willie Warren, and Cole Aldrich.

Is it jinxing the Nets? Maybe. Is it legal to do? Probably not. But, it would generate tons of publicity, and as Yormark knows, there's no such thing as bad publicity. So, Nets Marketing Department: You're welcome!