The Brooklyn Nets are a franchise that is basically the diametric opposite from the San Antonio Spurs in almost every way possible. Look at their record, their roster, their market, their goals, their team building philosophy or pretty much anything else and you will find something vastly different than what PATFO’s been running for the past 20+ years. Outside of the primary jersey colors, they are basically the Bizarro Spurs. Not many teams in the league offer such a stark contrast which presents people like us with an interesting philosophical question. Does that look fun?
Winning is fun and the Nets sure do seem to be doing a lot of that. Their recent form especially has taken off and they seem to be quietly cementing themselves as a legitimate threat to make a run come playoff time. The Spurs, on the other hand, are losing a lot of games these days and I think we’ve seen enough by now to know that losing is not very much fun at all. It stinks. Long term team building aspirations aside, being consistently on the wrong end of a butt kicking has already worn out it’s welcome.
The Nets have big name star players. Elite ones. Guys that casual sports fans know about. Guys that have won rings. Guys with a pending date at the Hall of Fame. Watching an all time great like Kevin Durant ply his trade night in and night out is something that we should all cherish as basketball fans but, man, getting to watch him do it with your team’s name on his chest? That’s a special privilege that’s hard to put in to words. We know because watched Tim Duncan do it for 19 years and, frankly, we’re still trying to figure out how to adjust to life without him.
This current version of the Spurs doesn’t have guys like that. We’re not even sure if the guys we have will reach a level beyond “nice guy to have on a championship roster.” We have small name star players with some promise and that certainly has it’s charms but, well, compared to cheering on one of the best players of all time, the experience falls well short. It’s no one’s fault, it just is what it is.
The Nets have almost everything that we say we want. They are playing an exciting brand of basketball, they garner a lot of attention within the NBA media landscape and, most importantly, they have a real shot at winning a title this year. From the outside looking in, its the perfect situation. So why is it so...weird? James Harden couldn’t request a trade fast enough. Kevin Durant spent the whole summer actively trying to leave. Kyrie Irving, when not attempting to set a land speed record for most bad opinions in a row, also spent the entire summer trying to leave. Ben Simmons seems like he’s simply trying to convince everyone that he actually does enjoy playing basketball. Steve Nash, one of the most likable guys in the league, was fired unceremoniously after seven games. On top of all that, they have virtually no foundation for any type of real fanbase as far as anyone can tell.
I thought about this a lot during the game last night. The whole thing felt surgical. Routine. Joyless. Like everyone was going through the motions of an NBA game who’s outcome had been decided months in advance. The Nets were playing great! No one seemed to care. The Spurs were playing...fine. No one seemed to care. It was like we were watching a random scrimmage between the Varsity and JV squads. The idea that Kylian Mbappe happened to be sitting on the sidelines only reinforced the weirdness.
This game felt divorced from our reality. The Spurs are trying to build something from the ground up and it’s fanbase is desperately trying to find things to hold on to while following along with the journey. We’re trying to focus on our guys and their development. We’re trying to reshape a culture that has been defined by excellence for so long and is hoping to recapture that spirit while forging it’s own identity. We’re building something special here and it’s so important to believe in that dream during the long nights and long seasons ahead.
Playing the Nets makes that dream feel hollow. Like we’re trying to start a fire outside in a rainstorm next to a mansion full of spoiled kids yelling at each other. It’s distracting, to say the least. It makes me want to lie down. To give up. It makes me feel even more desperate to hit on that lottery ticket in May because, shoot, if this is what we’re competing with then all the hard work in the world might just be a shout in the wind.
I couldn’t wait for this game to be over. I couldn’t wait for the Spurs to get out of Brooklyn. I know for a fact that this team has the capacity to be fun and exciting. I’ve seen them do it and firmly believe they’ll do it again. Are the Nets fun? Maybe. I don’t know. But they sure seem to suck the fun out of everything they come in contact with.
If we ever do get that fire going, everyone else better watch out.
- It is absolutely infuriating that Kyrie Irving seems to play his absolute best against the Spurs ever time we play him. I hate it. It’s not like he even has some sort of vendetta or anything, he just sees San Antonio on the upcoming schedule and starts heating up like he caught a star in Mario Kart. Remember that time he dropped like a million points on us with the Cavs? That definitely wasn’t one of the worst nights in my life but I had to think about it for a second.
- It is absolutely infuriating to see Patty Mills in a Nets uniform. It feels alien and strange. I hate it. I understand all of the logical reasons why he needed to move on and I understand all of the logical reasons why he chose the Nets as a destination. It’s all very logical and it’s still dumb. Who did we need to pay that we couldn’t just pay Patty Mills? He’s so thoroughly a part of the Spurs DNA that I still expect to see him sprinting off the bench with his towel every time we call a time out. I miss him. I want him back. Come back, Patty.
- The lone bright spot of this game was, for maybe the first time all year, the uniform matchup between the two teams seemed to fit together perfectly. Both squads had their old school ABA style jerseys on and the Nets, blessedly, changed their court colors up to match the aesthetics. It was like they were wearing throwback uniforms with a purpose instead of just wearing them just because the NBA, along with the rest of the world, has descended into complete anarchy. I have a theory that if the Spurs just decided to start wearing white for every home game then they might never lose again. Prove me wrong! You can’t and never will!
WWL Post Game Press Conference
- I sort of think you should end everything you wright with, “Prove me wrong! You can’t and never will!”
- I was thinking the same thing. It’s pretty snappy, right?
- It’s definitely got a kick.
- Plus it invites reader engagement which, you know, that’s a huge deal in the publishing world these days. Engagement.
- Are you concerned at all about whether or not someone will end up proving you wrong?
- No. Not at all. I mean, I would have to be wrong for that to happen and I, uh, don’t think that’s ever happened?
- You’ve never been wrong?
- That can’t be right.
- Prove me wrong! You can’t and never will!