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The Passover Edition
Wednesday night in Chicago great arena, great sound, great fans just a great place for a basketball game. And in the final of the Nets no-home-TV games (Yankees won 7-4-I wonder if A-Rod and Jeter were looking for the Nets game during the post-game buffet) the 24-win fellas were taking on the top-of-the heap- Bulls, looking for the best record in all of the world. The Bulls, with the blooming Rose, and the Nets, with Brook holding down the middle while many of his front-line teammates were MIA due to injuries. And as the crowd stood for an overpowering operatic rendition of the National Anthem, I did not forsee asking this question two hours later-"Why is this night different than all others?"
Because on this night (for those not initiated in the tradition of the Passover, there are actually four intellectual questions, but basketball only needs one), the Nets under Coach Avery showed a fight, a spirit, a determination that made Nets fans (and aren't we all) proud to be a member of Nets Nation. Make not mistake the Bulls were trying very hard to win. And even though their coaching staff took its collective foot off the pedal a few times, the Nets of Jordan, Sasha, Brook, Gonzo and Honey Graham were taking it to the starters so much so that when the Bulls took a TO down by 10, there were as many audible gasps heard throughout the United Center as at a screening of 'Friday the 13th.' And even though in the end the Bulls triumphed, this contest was a true testament to the work done by Coach Avery, his staff and the Killer B's in changing the environment from the 12-win Picasso of a year ago.
In the late 90's, Coach Cal had flown into the corporate offices on Murray Hill and declared, "We have to change the culture." And in many ways he did, even though it didn't end pleasantly for the current coach of 'One and Done U' (read that somewhere classic). What Coach Avery and the Killer B's inherited was at a far deeper level of despair and thus the climb out would be longer and more arduous. But on Wednesday night, you saw tangible results of their work. Now, there were some exciting moments over the past six months which would give one hope for the future, none more so than the securing of Salt Lake City's greatest resource since the advent of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. But on a night when many in the league would have subscribed to the U.S. Postal system, when the only pass they would consider was one boarding to Cancun', when the only time worthy of consideration was tee time, not playing time, the Nets dug in. They played as though they didn't want the season to end. They dug deep, they left everything on the floor, and they showed that all of the hard work that had been implemented by the coaches and front office many months ago was showing results. In defeat, this may have been one of the best moments in the last several years. And so, as I look for more whole wheat matzoh, on April 12th, in Chicago, for Nets fans, and for the Nets future, this was a night that was different than all others.
You Must be Nets
Meet the Press...As cleaning out days go, none better than Thursday...D Will, Hump, Sasha, Jordan, Brook...outstanding effort in front of the press...amazing what the allure of vacation time does for media training Oscar and Felix...Bird and The Czar the broadcast team for Denver @ Ok City Sunday night on TNT...Groundhogs Day...The look on Phil Hughes face in the dugout after his most recent outing similar to those on the faces of the bench last year...stunned disbelief...Yankee Baseball...Basketball outing at the Stadium last week...Hump watching his hometown Twins...he was visibly shaken when Mauer took a called third strike...The Incredible Hump...And speaking of the Nets leading rebounder...his video got more than 90 thousand hits...PR staff did a great job but it's nice to have friends in high Tweet places...Double C...Tremendous articles written recently by Dave D. and Tom Canavan on the story of our guy, Chris Carrino...if you haven't seen them, Google search...it is worth the time and effort...The envelope, please...Not an Emmy, not an Oscar not even Most Congeniality...no, I was overwhelmed to learn my graduating senior was voted 'Best Hair' in her class really.
Posted by Gary Sussman on April 15, 2011 at 11:00 a.m., ET
8 is Enough
There are certain snapshots over the past 15 or so years that I will look back on to give me some perspective on what life has been like in the sometimes whacky world of the now (but not for long) New Jersey Nets. The first time walking into practice, when one of the assistant coaches thought I was a terrorist...the dancing of Sam Cassell in the locker room in Indiana, in a scene that will only exist in my imagination...the card game marathon with Mike O'Koren and Bob Papa in Milwaukee, when the great radio voice of the Giants got on his knees to plead with me to stop throwing cards to MOK...and the day that I was told we had traded for J Kidd, when I just smiled, sat down, and laughed at the thought that now, for the first time, the Nets would have an All-NBA player to lead the charge. And then there was this past Wednesday. February 23rd. A date that will live forever in Nets lore.
My mantra has always been the same...when my GM tells me there is a trade, then there is a trade. No rumors, no tweets (by the way, you can follow the Sez @susssez-amazing how much news is generated in only 140 characters, but I digress) no blogs...just these sometimes chilling words..."Gary, can you come into my office." Then, and only then, do I believe that there is the action and organized chaos that envelopes "The Transaction."
So on the Wednesday following the All-Star weekend off the court festivities, the infamous call produced one reaction-yes, you can do a deal in secret. It was an unmanned drone, a stealth maneuver that would confound the cast of 'CSI-NY', a deal that, dare I say, could be on the level of bringing #5 from the warmth of the desert to the Sabrette factory on Union Ave. The Killer B's had made a direct hit, a trade of seismic proportions for a team with only 17 wins on the season. Another Williams was going to call Jersey home...and his name was not Marcus or Sean. No, this was D Will, the All-Star, the player who must be in the conversation as the best point guard in the league..even if you are just having the conversation with yourself. And as Coach Avery pointed out more than once on Thursday, don't try and muddie our celebration....there is a new point guard in town, and with one move that was completed under the cover of darkness, Nets fans (and aren't we all) can now see some light at the end of the tunnel. No. 5 let the sun shine in. No. 8 has just opened up the blinds.
You Must be Nets
Point...Counter Point...Coach Avery's retort at the Thursday press conference to the insinuation that D Will was the reason for Coach Sloan leaving Utah may have been the finest moment I have witnessed in 15 years of press conferences...if Harold Lederman was scoring, he would have given Coach the round 10-8 for a knockdown....Starsky and Hutch...Our own Ian Eagle and Jim Spanarkel will broadcast their 14th year of NCAA tourney hoops this March, the tourney's longest running duo....Squashed Beadle...The SportsNation star went down for the count recently, slipping on a patch of ice and breaking her ankle...seven screws and one plate later, she returned to the broadcast using a crutch...I could go in a number of directions here, but I'll just let it be...Cheerio, mate...The Nets will be playing the Raptors in London on March 4 and 5 and the Sez will be behind the PA mike at the O2 Arena...I have a very special intro for the Queen...Best Wishes...To former Net Devin Harris, a class act who was a pleasure to work with and showed the type of guy he is when he stepped up and led the charge to raise $75 grand for Rutgers football player Eric LeGrand...who made his first public appearance last week....Red Dragon....And finally, congratulations to my youngest daughter Brynn, who will be taking her tennis talents to Oneonta State next fall, allowing me to still wear all of the red shorts I have from Cornell for half the tuition.
Posted by Gary Sussman on February 25, 2011 at 9:45 a.m., ET