After 40 years, I finally can afford season tickets. I'm pumped.
The Nets start the season in style - for one half. Playing as well if not better than they did against Toronto in the playoffs last year, the Nets play great, smart, team basketball and race off to a 15 point lead over Chicago (not a bad team) at the half. Great!
I realize there is another great benefit to being a season ticket holder - you don't have to listen to the announcers! Can there be any worse than Mark Jackson? Don't need a mute button here!
But then comes the 2nd half and, as one of the most illustrious Jerseyans would say, it's deja vu all over again. The Bulls close the gap, and our boy genius coach, Lawrence "the timekeeper" Frank lets it happen. The Nets are missing shots, making stupid mistakes and stupider fouls, and yet, no time out, and before you know it it's the middle of the third and only a 3 point lead.
But wait, it gets better. Less than 2 minutes to go and the Nets are up 5. AND you have the ball. Why not CALL TIME OUT AND SET UP A PLAY, put the game away?
Why? This is a question we will return to, I am sure, again and again and again during the season...
No. Vince Carter takes a 3 (a three?). Miss.
Bulls miss layup but Deng gets the rebound as 4 Nets stand and watch him lay it in. 3 point game.
A minute to go. Six seconds tick off the clock. Only six. J Kidd takes a 3 (a three??). Miss.
16 seconds later Andres Nocioni shows Kidd and Carter how to do it. Tie game.
38 seconds to go. Why not CALL TIME OUT AND SET UP A PLAY? Are you kidding? The Great Lawrence Frank forgoes the timeout, but VC can't forgo YET ANOTHER 3 ATTEMPT. AIRBALL. Rebound? Guess...
So here we are. A 15 point halftime lead squandered. A 7 point lead with 2 minutes left squandered. Three opportunities to call time, set up a play and salt away the game, squandered. There are now 19 seconds left, and you'll never guess what Chicago does - they CALL TIME OUT TO SET UP A PLAY. Oh, and did I mention? The can hold the ball for the last shot.
Now comes the luck. The Bulls can't get the ball to anyone open until 3 seconds left when Ben Gordon is wide open for a (you guessed it) 3. Does he take a step or two in, since a deuce wins the game? No, this is the NBA. Does he drive the basket to get fouled, needing only to drain one of two? No, this is the NBA.
So he takes the three. Clang.
Do the Nets get the rebound? NO.
Ben Wallace gets it and puts up a layup that LUCKILY does not drop. Overtime.
The Nets then return to their first half form and pull out the win over a good (well, we thought they were good - it takes them until game 5 to win their first one, then promptly get trounced by 30 two nights later) but distracted (Kobe beef, Luol?) Bulls team.
As the great Lawrence Frank would say, a win is a win...
1-0 to start is not bad. We'll take it.... With misgivings.