When I told my friends about my conversion to the Nets this evening, I got a bunch of varied responses. These included “finally”, “no dude, don’t do it” and, my favourite, “dude, you went to Sweden. Did you really fail so badly to hook up with any hot blonde chicks there that you think becoming a Nets fan means the Russian dude will throw you some spare girls?”
Well, that’s not true – I did get laid in Sweden. (And Denmark. And Finland. And Norway. And…well you get the idea). But I’m sure anyone who gives a damn on this series of tubes that I’ve changed my team wants to know just why I did so. Unlike the last piece, which was a rambling stream-of-consciousness load of self-indulgent bollocks built around a lame extended metaphor…I’m gonna try keep this one short and sweet.
1) Mikhail Prokhorov
Growing up, I was always the smallest kid in my class. And on my sports teams. And in the neighbourhood. When you’re in that position, especially if you’re given to being a smartarse like myself, you learn a few lessons pretty quickly. Probably the most important of all these lessons is to make sure the biggest and toughest kids are on your side.
In terms of NBA owners, no one is bigger and tougher than Mikhail Prokhorov. Prokhorov isn’t merely rich. He is what I like to call “fuck-off rich.” Fuck-off rich people are the 1% of the 1%. Of the 1%. They could use $100 notes for toilet paper every day for the rest of their lives, make videos of themselves jet-skiing with blockbuster production values and soundtrack and generally not give a fuck about anything. Which includes paying the luxury tax.
Of course, Prokhorov is far from the only NBA owner who’s in this category – Paul Allen obviously is another, and probably Mark Cuban, Micky Arison and Rich DeVos. Prokhorov, however, stands apart by just the kind of businessman (and man) he is. Anyone with any knowledge of how he and his Russian oligarch ilk got rich knows that you couldn’t succeed in the Wild West of post-Soviet Russia without a willingness to gamble everything. Already, by approving moves like the trade for Joe Johnson and encouraging GM Billy King to go all in on Deron and approving his overpaying for Gerald Wallace/Brook Lopez (Dwight trade or not) Prokhorov has shown that he doesn’t give a fuck about trifles like the salary cap and luxury tax. He wants to win a title and doesn’t care about the cost, because it’s piss in a bucket to him. I want that guy on my side, because no other owner is as willing and able to put this strategy into action. Besides, he wants to be President of Russia. While this is unlikely (again, for those who aren’t educated on the morass that is Russian politics, educate yourselves cause it could take me all day and several paragraphs) just the thought that the owner of my team could control Russia is beyond awesome. (Would he point nukes at David Stern’s office if Stern made a decision he didn’t like? Send the KGB to kidnap Carmelo?)
(Of course, the actual personnel moves are somewhat questionable…but this is Billy King we’re talking about. Of course he’s going to overpay.)
tl;dr – Mikhail Prokhorov is rich.
2) The actual team
I love basketball in any form. However, there’s no form of the game that quite compares to a point guard who controls every facet of an offense from start to finish, improving his teammates in the process while also knowing when to stick the boot in and crush the opposition.
In today’s NBA, there’s a few guys who can and will do this on a regular basis. Unfortunately most of them play on teams I would never devote my fandom to for a number of reasons (Rondo, CP3, Nash). Deron is the only one who I can and will become a fan of his team as much as the player.
Part of the reason for this is that I like the rest of his team. It’s strangely well put-together for a Billy King roster. Yes, Joe Johnson is overpaid to hell and back, however, we’ve learnt over the past few years that having Joe Johnson as your first scoring option, with mediocre to crap PGs, makes you a consistent playoff team. As the second option to one of the top 5 point guards in the league? I expect him to thrive. How many shooting guards in the league are better than him? Kobe, Wade…and right now that’s it.
After that, you have Brook Lopez, who by all accounts is a nice guy and a bit of a goofball. Did King overpay him? Yes, but he probably needed to to keep him since Lopez has spent the best part of his career in trade talks and surely wouldn’t have happily stayed otherwise knowing he may be in for more. He has his flaws – he doesn’t rebound tenaciously enough a lot of the time, his defense is average – but 7ft guys who can score in the post, hit mid range jumpers and move up and down the court aren’t a dime a dozen and usually get overpaid anyway. And with that in mind…it’s possible a Dwight deal built around Lopez happens (but that’s another article). I see no reason why he can’t be a third option on a good team, especially if you can put him against a centre-less side (like, I don’t know, let’s say…Miami?) where no one in their regular position can match him.
Gerald Wallace is slowing down (and, again, overpaid, and again Prokhorov probably doesn’t care) but he’s still a guy who gives his all every time he steps on the court no matter what the situation. Having not watched the Kardashian reality show which had Kris Humphries’ cameo, I have no reason to dislike him like (seemingly) everyone else and can just appreciate his defensive toughness and rebounding (after Kevin Love, one of the best in the league). On rebounding – while I previously mentioned Lopez is a poor rebounder, both Wallace and Humphries are good enough to cover for him and Reggie Evans was signed to crash the boards off the bench.
And I haven’t even discussed my somewhat bizarre man-crush on MarShon Brooks, this team’s likely sixth man/Microwave guy who comes off the bench and can occasionally pop off for 30 before anyone knows what hit them. (Of course he’s as likely to go 1-9 and brick five three pointers, but that’s part of the package that makes guys like him so fun to watch). Maybe it’s not that bizarre – after all, we all know how much I love Monta Ellis. I have a thing for inefficient, reckless gunners who shoot first and don’t even bother asking questions like I do for beer, nacho fries and petite blondes with big boobs.
tl;dr – I like the guys on the team.
3) No baggage
I would feel a bit weird becoming a fan of an established team with a fanbase with deep roots. That’s the main reason I didn’t follow either of my “guys” (Monta or DMC) to their new teams. It doesn’t feel right for whatever reason. The Nets, however…they’re basically a new team. I know they kept the logos and the players, but it’s a whole new ball game simply moving five hours (inside joke for anyone who knows what NYC/Newark traffic is like) to Brooklyn. Their fans are new (a combo of old NJ Nets fans, Brooklynites wanting to break out of Manhattan/the Knicks’ shadow and support their local team and curious outsiders like myself), the arena is new…it’s a new game in Brooklyn. Speaking of which…
tl;dr – It’s one paragraph. Read it yourself you lazy sods.
I have a lot of family in the tri-state area. Both my dad’s brothers live in New Jersey (although they are/were not Knicks fans – one doesn’t follow basketball, the other hung to his Sonics fandom like Papa Ash until the end) and whenever I have been to visit either of them, we’ve always been to Brooklyn at least once. Mostly for pizza, mind, but also to go round the area.
I love Brooklyn. If you’ve never been to New York City but have a mental image of it as loud, rude, dirty, bustling and full of all kinds of weird dudes and chicks of every walk of life possible who are united by the sole fact that they’re New Yorkers and looking down on you cause they know you aren’t one – it’s Brooklyn where you’ll find it. Not Manhattan, which is now just one giant rich yuppie’s paradise. When we went as a kid, my uncles wouldn’t take me to Harlem or the Lower East Side because they were too dangerous. As a young man, exploring the island for myself last year, I went to both in search of Rucker Park, rare rap albums and the “LES” described by John Joseph in The Evolution of a Cro-Magnon (a must read for all fans of hardcore punk or a good yarn, BTW) and found the streets full of wankers in suits and their gold digger ho girlfriends in designer clothing (I would estimate their bras were worth about double everything I was wearing – and it’s not like they required much material either).
Point is, Manhattan sucks. But Brooklyn? I went there, I found exactly what I was looking for. Along with learning how to abuse someone fluently in Yiddish, to add to the Greek, Arabic and Maco I learnt from spending five years in Rockdale. It’s a messy, sprawling borough inhabited by every kind of human being imaginable. All of whom I got the chance to interact with were fucking awesome in their own ways (When they weren’t calling me a , that is). Again, I want those guys and girls on my side. (For fans of trashy reality TV – I drove past the glass shop made famous by Brooklyn 11223. Had I known what it was at the time I’d've got a photo). Parts of the borough have changed and become gentrified, but the entire area itself hasn’t lost its character. Plus, if the Nets market right and tap into the slight inferiority complex many Brooklynites feel towards Manhattan when marketing the Knicks, while not pricing everyone out of tickets, they will get behind their team for sure.
tl;dr – No sleep till Brooklyn cause it’s cool.
5) I get to actively barrack against James Dolan and Carmelo
What, you’re offering me the opportunity to be a fan of a rival team of the most incompetent owner in American professional sports (and yes, Donald Turkowitz, I’m including you), the same guy who recorded this (), along with the least likeable “superstar” in the NBA today? The guy who held his team hostage for eight months in what I can only assume was a sadistic bet he and Dwight Howard made to see who could do so longer? You make my decisions too easy sometimes.
tl;dr – Jimmy Dolan is a muppet, Carmelo is a dickhead.
6) I’m not banned from NetsDaily like I am from Golden State of Mind
That’s pretty much it. Of course, the Nets don’t come without their flaws. The fact that Dwight Howard could still end up on them is a worry (albeit not one that would cause me to change my tune – but more on that very soon). I’m also aware that Billy King throws around money like me in a strip club at 2am (and, like myself, it’s money he doesn’t always actually have, that often ends up killing the future).