Saturday, June 29, 2013

Nets, first "Situationist team," boost chances to win title; was it really the arena that drew new stars (and is opposition "another story, entirely"?)

So, a lot of people are excited about, as the Wall Street Journal's Chris Herring wrote, Can Brooklyn Actually Win a Title?, noting that the trade of Boston's Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Jason Terry "upstaged an otherwise entertaining NBA Draft" and boosted their odds to third-best, from 40-1 to 10-1.

Only the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder, younger and deeper, are better odds. Garnett and Pierce, Herring points out, add shooting prowess to punish defenses that attempt to double-team the existing Nets scorers of Brook Lopez, Joe Johnson, and Deron Williams, and the newcomers also will add defense.

Herring allows that there are questions about chemistry and health, given three starters over 32, plus a potential mismatch with new coach Jason Kidd's fast-paced style. And while there's no real answer whether the Nets can win a title, he concludes:
The Nets are getting the attention they've always wanted, and the title conversation now includes them.
The Post's Mike Vaccaro was less convinced by those odds:
But will the three new imports, with all those miles logged, coming off seasons marked by declines ranging from notable to steep, really close the significant gap between the neighborhood where the Nets and Knicks both loitered last year — solidly upper middle-class — and the penthouse-dwelling Heat and the other two residents of the East’s gated community, the Pacers and Bulls?
Still, that made both the front and back cover of the paper.

The first Situationist team

In The Classical, David Roth penned Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and the Brooklyn Nets Show, suggesting that the "loud and public and noteworthy way" the Nets were aiming for a championship with "a roster that looks notably more like a successful fantasy basketball team from the 2009-10 season than a contemporary NBA team."

While other teams try to grow craftily, the Nets are bold, having "succeeded in creating a spectacle that, however successful or even worth-watching its team-shaped component becomes on the court, is at least a spectacle," embracing "their truest identity as A Big Entertainment Thing," now "the NBA's most purely Situationist team."

Situationist? That Wikipedia link points to:
The situationists believed that the shift from individual expression through directly lived experiences, or the first-hand fulfillment of authentic desires, to individual expression by proxy through the exchange or consumption of commodities, or passive second-hand alienation, inflicted significant and far-reaching damage to the quality of human life for both individuals and society.
Hiking ticket prices

Radio analyst Jeff Van Gundy, according to NetsDaily, said that "Nets ownership put personnel for their team way ahead of profits. And, if you’re a fan, you have to understand how rare that is and you have to be excited about the opportunity."

Well, maybe.
From NetsDaily

As one fan wrote on NetsDaily (right), his $55/seat tickets were supposed to go up to $60, but after the trade instead went to $79, a 43.6% increase.

Fan excitement

NetsDaily editor and uber-fan "Net Income" (aka Bob Windrem), even tweeted that it would be "#orgasmic" for the new players to be introduced while coach Kidd's jersey was honored. I gave it a couple of exclamation points.

In an Off-Season report, he noted:
Farewell to Marshon Brooks, Kris Humprhies, Gerald Wallace, Keith Bogans and Kris Joseph. With Hump's departure, there's only one player left from the 2009-10 Nets, the 12-70 debacle. But, on the other hand, Lawrence Frank and Roy Rogers are back!
As Seinfeld said, you're just rooting for the clothes.

Local disillusion

"The fight is not over. I can watch Kevin Garnett on TV. I'm still not going to Barclays Center," said the Rev. Clinton Miller of Brown Memorial Baptist Church, last night at a candidates' forum for the 35th Council District.

It's notable that Miller was tougher on Atlantic Yards than the candidates, none of whom expressed support but mostly treated it as a done deal. (I'll have more on the candidates, and the forum, in a future post.)

Did the arena lure stars?

New York Times sports columnist Harvey Araton heaps all the praise on the arena that "first and foremost" drew the Celtics' stars, in Nets’ N.B.A. Star, Barclays Center, Lures Others, suggesting that " Barclays Center’s one-year-old shadow has grown quickly, encroaching now on the prime Midtown real estate of Madison Square Garden."

He notes that NBA Commissioner David Sterm "knew little of the transportation hub and gentrifying neighborhoods around the proposed site," and players knew even less.

Garnett, visiting on Christmas Day for a game, called the arena “phenomenal.” New coach Kidd praised the arena at his introductory press conference: “It’s not East Rutherford.”

Adds Araton:
He did not have to explain that Thursday night when he pitched the deal to Garnett, who had to agree to waive his no-trade clause. Opposition to its construction notwithstanding — and that is another story, entirely — the arena and its proximity to Manhattan sold itself to those who played in it.
Barclays became the Nets’ brightest star, pulling in Pierce and Garnett.
While the headline's conclusory, Araton adds an additional factor in the penultimate sentence. Barclays is a shiny (on the inside) new arena, but it's also located in the country's media capital, and that has to be equally key.

Also, the Nets had the parts to be competitive. I suspect those factors were equally important to the players' decision than the "star" new arena.

Opposition "another story"? Nah

Note how a sports columnist can call arena opposition "another story, entirely." Actually, it's all linked, because if the Barclays Center is the product of the Culture of Cheating, then that persists.

Araton, in a version of the column posted online, wrote:
They would continue to be a laughingstock, on New Jersey landfill or over rail yards in Brooklyn.
My response, on Twitter:


That got changed, belatedly, to "on New Jersey landfill at the rail yards in Brooklyn," which omitted the crucial word "or."

Even "at rail yards" is incorrect, because, as Atlantic Yards opponents and others better informed than most sports writers pointed out, only half of the arena site is a piece of the railyard, while the rest used private and public property, including public streets.

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