Monday, February 11, 2008

Game 51 - This is what I thought I was gonna get

I'm not gonna kid (sic) ya - I got season tickets this year because I was taking advantage of the untenable situation Nets ownership has made for itself. Who's gonna come see a team that is gonna pack up and leave in two (now three!) years? They need to pack the house, and to do that there are gonna be deals galore. The Nets never have been a well attended team, and now, with the announcement that after 30 years of marriage, they've begun an affair with another venue and will ultimately leave you for her in 5 or 6 years, it's a wonder anyone shows up.

But I am a true Nets fan, and will be one even when they move to Brooklyn, even when Ratner sells the team after one season there because, after all, he never did give a hoot about the team or basketball in general except as a pawn in his real estate development scheme.

So I took advantage and got 4 season seats. Cheap.

But this is a team which two seasons ago won 49 games and, with a decent coach, could have won 55-60. Last year I "had a good feeling" about the team, but Curly went down and the team figured out Frank couldn't coach his way out of cotton candy. Nonetheless, the second half of the year they looked for real, getting to the second round yet again, and being competitive in it, and with a decent coach, might have gotten to the conference finals, and who knows? After all, they certainly have the talent.

So I ponied up. I honestly expected to see several games this year, live, where the Nets dominated. I expected them to win close to 50 games and perhaps lose 10-15 home games all year. VC reupped, Curly coming back, RJ getting better and better, JKidd over his ugly divorce and playing stellar basketball for the US of A. Yeah, the Celtics got Jesus Shuttlesworth and KG to play with Pierce, but I would put up Kidd against Allen, RJ against Pierce anyday, and let KG and VC duke it out and see what the benches have. I thought the Nets bench was FAR superior.

What I have seen instead is bad game after bad game. Even the wins have been bad wins.

So tonite they're playing the Mavs. The Nets absolutely stink against the Mavs. The Nets had a much better chance to win the championship in 2003 vs the almighty Spurs than they would have vs the Mavs. (And I claim the Nets SHOULD have won in 2003, were it not for the stubbornness of Byron Scott and his stupid coaching moves.)

My youngest son wanted to stay home tonite and watch the Pro Bowl (he's a Giants fan and still wrapped up in football), and besides, he said, the Nets STINK and are just gonna lose again. So my wife had to stay home with him. My other son just got back from a Boy Scout winter camping adventure and had some catching up on homework to do. He still wanted to go, but could I wait until he got his homework done?

The point is, we got to the arena at the half.

Now, I have Slingbox. If you don't know what it is, you should get it. So I can watch my TV, all my 200 FIOS channels, on either of my two cell phones. So my son was watching it and I was listening as we drove up to the arena, during the first half. The Nets hung tough for a while, but then, here we go again, they were down 8 and it looked like VC was going to hang it up due to a blow to the face. RJ already had a big welt on his brow from the Laker debacle last week. So I expected the Nets to be down double digits at the half, fart around for the third, make a half hearted run in the fourth, and lose by 15, as the great Lawrence Frank, armed as he usually is with all his precious (my precious!) timeouts, played the foul-and-lose-worse-when-it's-too-late endgame that has made him the envy of NBA coaching circles.

When what to my wondering eyes did appear...

They actually made a comeback, within the very quarter that they had gone down double digits! And before you knew it, they were up by 6 at the half!

Of course, right? Jason Kidd. Auditioning for the Mavs.

NO - it was none other than Vince Bipolar Carter, exerting HIS will on the game. HE turned it around, not the Captain.

And guess what - the whole place was energized.

Fans, dancers, Mario, Sly, the media - everyone was as energized and into it as they were in 2002 when the lowly "swampdragons" rose from the muck to go to the finals. There was a BUZZ in the arena when we got there.

Most importantly, Carter's TEAM was energized.

If people were mad or disappointed or upset or sad about JKidd, you couldn't see it. This was a crowd, and a team, that was INTO IT. They came out for the second half and blew the pants of the Mavs, in a game that was not as close as the score. (The Nets missed at one point 5 foul shots in a row from the likes of Boki and RJ - this one should have been won by 25 or more.)

If Kidd was auditioning for anything, it was for central casting. VC, RJ and Sean Williams were the stars - they provided the energy, the scoring, the defense and the leadership. Kidd dropped a three or two, and tried a few pretty alley oops (Krstic watched one go by as if some taller dude was gonna run out of the stands and dunk it behind him; RJ took the other and looked like the second coming of Dominique). But you could not feel him "exerting his will" or doing anything at all to justify salivating on the part of the Mavs.

If anyone, VC looked like he was auditioning.

At one point, about midway thru the fourth, he put on some hellified defense and then stole the ball for an all alone one handed jam on the fast break. The place erupted as it has not all season. Later came some circus shots and more great defense. And leaping. Did I mention leaping? On those "shot knees" you guys were talking about, Magic and Chuck...

JKidd may go in the next two weeks. He may not go and decide, shoot, we've played like dog food all year and are still the #8 seed in the East - if we put on a mini run we'll be the 4th or 5th seed and then anything can happen.

Either way, basketball is still a 5 man game, and if the other 4, plus quite a deep bench, decide they want to play up to their salaries, this team ROCKS. With or without Jason Kidd and his indomitable will.

This is what I thought I was gonna see all year. Not ekey wins against the Bucks, not getting blown out by the Raptors, not stupid coaching game after game after game in a fashion that made you expect to see Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell walk out in warmups at any time.




With or without Jason Kidd.

So, why 7 games under 500 with 30 left to play?

Let's see, who haven't we mentioned...?

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