I’ve made a huge mistake
They claim that it’s always darkest before the dawn, but times like this you start to wonder if that light at the end of the tunnel is just the beckoning call of the afterlife that you’re supposed to walk toward in death. The Brooklyn Nets are [spoiler alert for big fans of the last sentence of these posts] 8-16, have lost 8 of their last 10, and six in a row. Their best player remains horribly injured, and every loss seems to come after a healthy enough lead for a good team to occasionally nurse to the end of the game.
Wednesday marked my first trip to the Barclays Center of the year. I’d like to attend more games, but it’s surprisingly difficult to recruit willing companions to watch the second most prestigious NBA team in the city limits. But my younger cousin was primed. He’s more of a fan of the league, but I’d convinced him to watch a few minutes of these guys, and my claim that “They’re dangerous” seemed plausible enough. We weren’t anticipating a championship parade, but maybe there’d be a glimpse of the future. If the defense was sloppy, at least we’d get to watch Kenny Atkinson’s “drive in to the paint and kick out for an open three” exciting brand of basketball.
They didn’t drive. They didn’t kick out. As if through some cruel twist of fate they had been visited by the ghost of Carmelo Anthony, poisoning everybody with the sudden need to call for an iso and brick a jumper. I’ll come clean, I’m not the world’s smartest basketball fan. When I look at the court I don’t see chess pieces acting out some greater vision. If I’m really focused I might notice “Hm, sometimes they give the ball to that really tall son of a bitch for a dunk. I like that.” When Bill Simmons fangasms about some swinging post move that Kevin McHale invented, perfected, and damn well should have patented, I have to take him at his word. Because in my head it’s improvised. They’re all running around out there doing their thing, and if anything looks organized, well that’s just some higher power of nature. The force, if you will. The same one that sends migratory butterflies to the same Mexican villages every year, or forces the salmon back to their parents spawning ground. So when I notice that the score is low, because the dang ball had been bouncing off the rim far too much for my liking, I eventually pick up on the fact that the drive and kick stream has run dry. That’s where my wealth of sports cliches comes in handy, and I look at my cousin and say “The Utah defense must be cutting off the passing lanes.” I can tell it’s a smart thing to say because he nodded, and said “That sounds about right.” And then we sat in silence for several minutes because we were both pretty high.
There was a bright spot to the game though when Spencer Dinwiddie briefly caught fire and scored something like 8 straight points. Again, I’m fuzzy on the details, because in addition to being a little altered, I find that I never truly pay the right amount of attention while I’m actually in the stands. There are too many distractions. There are no announcers. And also the Barclays Center’s second deck just goes straight up into heaven, and you are always keenly aware that if you lean too far forward you will surely fall to your death. But while my cousin searched for what would become a $28 dollar meal, Spencer fired with impunity and carried the squad.
Once again they were up with a double digit lead, and once again, that lead was methodically chipped away into dust. For me, a lifelong Nets fan of seven weeks, the collapse was natural. Basketball is, after all, a game of streaks. You get the lead, you lose the lead. You do not question the natural order. But my younger cousin, while being aware of the Nets low status in the league still found the spirit to become incredulous when the Nets allergy to winning flared up. He scanned the vast ocean of empty seats and wondered aloud how we’d paid $33 for our tickets.
“There really does seem to be a little more energy at the Garden.”
I couldn’t argue with him there. The Knicks do have a greater stranglehold on their fanbase, and it stands to reason that if you’re going to root for a lovable loser, you might as well root for the losers that might land Kevin Durant in free agency (they won’t), and sit among the celebrities. These Nets don’t even attract the hipsters. Those guys are off at some warehouse party, not taking pictures of the Jason Kidd and Drazen Petrovic banners hanging overhead.
The crowd began to filter out with about a minute left on the clock. Fortunately, I did not have to beat the crowd to get to the subway. I would simply walk home. So I watched, deluding myself by saying “Two quick threes and a key stop and we can force overtime.” They didn’t get those stops or the threes. They lost. We stumbled home. All in all I had a pretty good time.
What did Spencer Dinwiddie draw on his shoes?
That of course is a tribute to the late Nelson Mandela. Good look.
That brings us to Friday’s game. If you come around these parts for the nightly open thread, you might have caught my update. The Brooklyn Nets were up seven points with 33 seconds to go. They lost. Three possession leads are typically safe propositions anytime you get under say, 45 seconds. Maybe you miss a few free throws and they get hot from three, but statistically speaking, you are probably going to win. Damn near everybody wins. You basically can’t lose. Look, here’s what the nerds have to say about the affair
That’s right, the Brooklyn Nets had a cool 99.7% chance of winning that game in regulation, and then a much more modest 97% chance of winning in the first overtime.
And they lost.
How did we get here? While up seven, Rondae Hollis Jefferson fouled on a three point attempt that went in, giving Memphis the life saving four point opportunity, which they converted. The Nets had an opportunity to ice the game with a bucket, which they missed. The Grizzlies of course drained a three to tie. The game went to overtime, where once again the Nets had a safe enough looking lead late, gave up a three, let it go to double overtime, and got tired of choking and just took the loss.
It’s not what you want.
I went to bed grumbling and chalked it up to the Nets possibly being some combination of bad and/or stupid, solid in the belief that You Cannot Foul In That Situation™. That is until the NBA released their two minute report which said, um, actually our boys kind of did you dirty, Brooklyn. Whoopsie daisy. That foul on the three? That was the result of an unnatural leg extension by Jackson and should have been ruled an offensive foul. Also, there was a no call on the Grizzlies on a crucial in bounds play that blew up in the Nets faces. Really letting them play, huh, refs?
I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with this information. The NBA’s Two Minute Report is probably a good thing, but it’s essentially a league sanctioned condemnation of the officiating without the authority to actually right a wrong. Just a formal “My bad” by the league. To me, a red-blooded American who has become dissatisfied with something, I say that’s not good enough. We’re running it back boys. Fly those Grizzlies back into the Barclays Center and let’s do those last 33 seconds one more time. Don’t feel like making the trip, Memphis? Cool. You’re gonna have to make like Jameis and eat that L, though. I mean if the league is going to go so far as saying “We got it wrong,” let’s take that to its logical extension and…fix the mistake.
I know. I know. Not gonna happen.
What did Spencer Dinwiddie draw on his shoes?
It’s a tribute to Penny Hardaway. It’s cool, but I’m still pissed off.
I spent the day drinking. Brunch turned into a bar session, which turned into me getting drunk and deciding to cook some goddamn steaks and mashed potatoes, because when I get drunk my family eats well. I’d recorded the game, but my wife and child remained awake for longer that I would have liked, and I’d accidentally slipped up and checked some other scores on ESPN.com and was gifted the Nets score, which, yeah they lost. Having the joy sucked out in advance, I realized that I am if not a professional, I remain a very committed amateur, and watched the game. I can attest that the good folks at ESPN.com are not liars. The Nets did in fact lose. Deep down, I knew that they were going to lose before I’d checked the score. Things need to change. The funk is real and they are bogged within its maw. Beating a bad squad is something that a healthy team might do, but when you’re truly in the midst of a prolonged period of depression, you wallow in your state of decay and lose to the Wizards. You laugh at your own atrophy as if the whole concept of effort is a farce. As a fan, I like to imagine that they are losing one game while thinking about another. I’m sure that’s not really the case. These players will to man tell you that they were focused on the trash ass Wizards. But I choose not to believe any of that. They were thinking about how they got hosed the game before. Hey, I can understand that kind of misery. I wanted them to win too, and it’s damn near all I thought about, and it’s all that the Nets broadcast thought about when they opened their coverage with tight closeups of the players faces as they watched yet another truly heartbreaking loss unfold against Memphis.
Anyway, it didn’t matter that much, as I had gotten daytime drunk, and was already fantasizing about all the sleep I’d get later that night.
What did Spencer Dinwiddie draw on his shoes?
It’s a tribute to Harriet Tubman. I’m sensing a theme in these tributes. Seems like he prefers civil rights activists, players who he grew up watching, or Bruce Lee.
Once again, the Brooklyn Nets are now 8-16, and tied with the Knicks for 11th place in the Eastern Conference.