This season is still going?
I’ve hit the wall. Following the team as closely as I have has gone more smoothly than I could have imagined when I’d thought up this column back in July, but they’ve played 61 games and I believe I’ve watched 58 (or at least a sizable portion of 58 games), and that’s a grind. I’m not as die hard of a sports fan as you’ll typically find writing on a sports blog. But the Nets have been the perfect team for me to have glommed onto. I shudder to think about what this would have been like had I decided to follow the Knicks. The column probably would have been funnier, and you would undoubtably have had fun kicking the shit out of the hapless and tanking Knicks. But I also probably wouldn’t have been writing by this point. I wouldn’t have had the stomach to spend that many minutes watching that terrible of a team. Speaking of which, does anybody even remember the initial pitch of this column? I was going to not only watch the Brooklyn Nets, but read Infinite Jest. I haven’t touched Infinite Jest in four months. The entire point of this column was experimenting to see if I could expose myself to something unpleasant long enough to become a fan, and the experiment is at best, inconclusive. I’m 0-1, as the Nets get a big N/A for failing to be terrible. To tell you the truth, I probably can’t learn to love the pain. I’d spent 20 years running long distance, and throughout that entire time my philosophy has been “when you feel like quitting, quit.” Who fucking cares? I went out to run five miles. I ran two. Whatever. I don’t need to prove anything to you.
This sounds like I’m quitting the article. I’m not. I’m stalling for time, because truth be told, I forgot to set the DVR for the first game back on Thursday, as we had to go out to Bay Ridge to check out the new daycare for my daughter, and I’d missed the first half. Also, the 2nd half was a terrible performance by the Nets who got their asses kicked by Portland, the brief comeback in the fourth not withstanding. And I don’t know how much I need to talk about that, as this is a blog about the experience of watching the Brooklyn Nets (and ostensibly about Infinite Jest), and not a Brooklyn Nets blog. Believe it or not there are plenty of Brooklyn Nets blogs, written by far savvier basketball aficionados than myself. I guess you can go read those blogs if you want that in depth analysis that I don’t provide.
Why am I getting defensive? You didn’t push me.
And with that, I can hear the feint rumbling emanating from California, Canada, Puerto Rico, wherever the hell tWBS is sleeping now calling out in one voice “STICK TO SPORTZ.”
Fine. We’re in the stretch run. The Nets have frankly, been pretty bad in their last 10. They lost to Chicago. They needed three overtimes to beat Cleveland. They haven’t been good, and the one constant in this lull has been the absence of Spencer Dinwiddie, so that’s what I’ll assume is causing all of this recent pain. The good news is that following that last Blazers loss, the next nine games are mostly very winnable:
At Charlotte (28-31)
Vs San Antonio (33-27)
Vs Washington (24-36)
Vs Charlotte (28-31)
At Miami (26-32)
Vs Dallas (26-33)
Vs Cleveland (14-46)
At Atlanta (20-40)
Vs Detroit (28-30)
The the touch of grey behind that silver lining is that the following 12 games are a nigh impossible slog, starting with a brutal 7 game road trip that takes place mostly on the west coast, and probably gets even harder once they come back east.
At Oklahoma City (38-21)
At Utah (33-26)
At LA Clippers (33-27)
At Sacramento (31-28)
At LA Lakers (29-30)
At Portland (36-23)
At Philadelphia (38-22)
Vs Boston (37-23)
Vs Milwaukee (45-14)
Vs Toronto (44-16)
At Milwaukee (45-14)
At Indiana (40-20)
And then they get not good Miami at home to close out the season. That’s a rough 12 games when you’re fighting for a playoff spot. So this game in Charlotte matters a hell of a lot more than you might think. Any loss in these first nine games is going to be triply painful, knowing what looms over the horizon.
For those too lazy to click on the link above, the Nets took a somewhat commanding lead, pissed away a lot of it in the 3rd quarter, pissed away the remainder in the fourth, and found themselves down six with only a few minutes to go, largely because of the damn Kemba Walker Show. Kemba ended the first half with 4 points, and finished the game with 32. It was very annoying. Also I finally made a break through. Growing up, I used to always accuse my mom of being bad luck. Whenever my team was blowing something, my mom was in the room, surely causing the bad vibes. I’m sure some of you had experienced this phenomenon. Likewise, as an adult, my wife is generally in the near vicinity whenever my favorite teams are choking. It doesn’t make any sense. Or does it? Hear me out: These annoying people who are always around when your team is falling apart are not the cause, but the symptom of chronic gaggery. For 2.5 quarters my wife and her mom were quiet, hanging out in the kitchen. But suddenly when I began to tense up, they were both in the living room, resuming their packing duties, constantly walking in front of the television, and searching for bullshit that could have waited until after the game. My theory is that they knew for a brief second something mattered more to me than they did. In that moment, of course. I’m not saying I’d trade my wife for a late February win on the road. I don’t even think they’re aware of it, but deep down, on the instinctual level, they knew. They knew that they could twist the knife and just lean their way into the picture. Why would they do this? Just to piss me off of course. Just as my mom must have known. Just as my daughter surely will grow to know. This is just their way.
In the end however, D’Angelo Russell caught fire late on his 23rd birthday to finish with 40. With a late lead, Kemba Walker ran up the court and attempted a shot that was blocked by Caris LeVert’s elbow.
All ball. Don’t even start with me. I’ve watched the clip many times. Just listen to that crowd reaction. Glorious.
“The Hornets to a man are still on the playing surface.”
Cool. They can fucking sleep on that basketball court for all I care. It’s still a loss. I’ve checked the standings and everything. Trust me. You lost.
Because I’m an absolutely wretched person, I went ahead and basked in the schadenfreude of reading the butt hurt reactions from their game thread.
Translation: “I realize that it was a clean block, but Kemba sold the shit out of that phantom contact by acting as if he got hit with a cattle prod, and I’m mad online that the refs refused to fuck everything up with a bullshit call.”
It’s great when they say the quiet part out loud. All Stars getting All Star calls is something to be addressed, you dorks. Not emulated. Kemba’s the best player in your franchise’s history, and absolutely nobody in the NBA’s Illuminati would give a shit if he fell into a sinkhole. Your second best player in franchise history is probably a Starter jacket that every eighth grader wore in 1994.
Suck it, losers.
Anyway, I’m going to drink this one in, because…woof. That end of the season schedule is a bear.
The Brooklyn Nets are 31-30 and in 6th place in the Eastern Conference.