Now that I've got your attention, let's talk about the 2009-2010 New Jersey Nets season.
But first, back to sex.
"Every generation thinks they invented sex" is an old and overused expression. I think all previous generations think they invented that expression. Furthermore, why stop at sex? Every generation thinks they invented dance music, children's entertainment, and armpit farts. What does this have to do with the Nets?
These Nets did not invent losing. There have been losers before them, and losers after them. But, goddamn, they gave it their all to put a lasting imprint on how we think of losing in the future.
On a macro-level, the Nets putridity is indicative of an overall trend in American sports of the strong teams getting stronger, and the weak teams getting weaker. It has been like that in baseball for the last decade, and has recently been showing up in football - in the last couple years, there has been a 16-0 and a 0-16 team.
But, looking just at the Nets, the team was designed to fail, and executed wonderfully. They expelled all leadership when firing Lawrence Frank and bringing in Kiki. Putting Kiki at coach had the same effect on the team as starting Kiki at power forward would have. Furthermore, they amassed a healthy amount of grouchy veterans playing for contracts (Bobby Simmons, Keyon Dooling, Rafer Alston) and clueless young talent unsure of their roles on the team (Chris Douglas-Roberts, Terrence Williams). The shining achievement that future generations will study about this Nets team will be their creation of the "Disease of Less".
What is the "Disease of Less"? Well, first let me tell you about the "Disease of More". In Pat Riley's book Show Time, he described the "Disease of More" by saying "success is often the first step toward disaster." The success of his Lakers teams in the 1980s led to players demanding more - more playing time, more shots, more money, etc. This disrupted the chemistry of the team and caused them to fail.
Well, let me introduce you to the radical "Disease of Less". Failure is often the first step toward disaster. As the Nets lost more and more, everyone turned on each other. Instead of banding together and taking on a "nobody believes in us!" mentality (as the Bucks did this season, and as the Wizards did for a few weeks in February), they started to look at each other as the enemy. "That's the guy that's making me lose!" So, all the players demanded more, and started looking out only for themselves. So, in this case, less led to more. The cause was completely different, but the effect was the same.
What is also interesting about this team is that they have OWNED the losing. Unlike other failed teams, they are not blaming injuries or any other types of externalities. It seems like they have accepted the fact that they built an awful team, thus the awful performance is acceptable.
I have to commend the Nets on this. One of my pet peeves in life is when people make excuses for not succeeding. In a management class of mine, I learned about "lotus of controls". A person with an external lotus of control blames the world around them for their situation, and these people are often lacking in maturity and do not become very successful. A person with an internal lotus of control sees themselves as in control of their situation. The Nets, despite the losing, are not looking outward for scapegoats, but understand they brought this futility upon themselves. This, my friends, is the razor-thin silver lining among the shit-colored cloud.
Most importantly, Nets fans, do not internalize this season and carry it with you. It is over. It's not your fault.