For a city with no reason to celebrate professional basketball, there sure will be a lot of celebrating this weekend. As the basketball world descends upon our friendly confines for NBA All-Star weekend, there comes a break in the action, and what better time for me to let my feathers down and reflect on the first half of the season?
Despite a losing record, reports of owner Mikhail Prokhorov trying to sell the team, nagging injuries to Deron Williams and Brook Lopez, losing Mirza Teletovic for the season to a blood clot in his lungs, constant trade rumors — you know, when you list it all out like that, it really is pretty bad. And yet, here we are, circling the drain, but not yet down it. In fact, since those back-to-back games in late January against the Clippers and Jazz, where the Nets lost by a combined 74 points, the team has shown signs of life. Brooklyn beat the Raptors and Clippers, two playoff-bound teams. Deron Williams and Jarrett Jack seem to be coexisting and coach Lionel Hollins is getting the most out of everyone else. The push for the eighth seed is on!
Look on the bright side, Nets fans. It could be worse. We could be Knicks fans. At least we don’t have thin-skinned Manhattan owner James Dolan cruising around with a porkpie hat and that stupid kazoo, begging Joe Johnson and Jarrett Jack to hang out with him.
And to the fan who recently bore the brunt of Dolan’s digital wrath, the septuagenarian Irving Bierman, who dared to send His Dolan-ness an e-mail complaining about his terrible management, you’re always welcome on this side of the river. People often accuse me of being an alcoholic, and I don’t argue with them. But when they let the moralizing fly, I sometimes fantasize about moving my roost to Madison Square Garden, because if I had to watch the Knicks day in and day out, I’d have an excuse as rock-solid as losing it all in the financial crisis.
Anyway, enough of that realism crap. We’re celebrating, remember? And I, Crummy, will guide you through the can’t-miss events of the weekend’s festivities taking place at Barclays Center.
In typical American fashion, the Rising Stars Challenge showcases the United States versus the rest of the world. Somehow, the Nets actually have two players in this one, Bojan Bogdanovic and Mason Plumlee. Young Plums has really burst onto the scene this season, but I’ll take Bojan and the Canadian, Andrew Wiggins.
The three-point contest is really the only event you need to pay atCCng$8765ngtention to. This year’s competition features some of the wettest shooters ever — Klay Thompson, Steph Curry, Kyle Korver, and JJ Redick are among the notables. Something tells me the court at Barclays Center will require more than a garbage can and a mop to sop up all the rain these guys will be dropping.
The dunk contest, even with one of our own, the Young Plums, will probably be a lot like recent dunk contests past: a bunch of young guys who can get off the ground only slightly higher than me, but don’t have the brand backing of past participants. Color me uninterested. I’ll take the long-armed Greek kid, Giannis Antetokounmpo, to win it all. Drinks on me for the first bird in the rafters to pronounce his name correctly..
The game itself has always been a bit of a snooze. So on Sunday I’ll be bellied up to the bar with a kindred spirit of Irving Bierman — the genuine article is sipping Shirley Temples down in Myrtle Beach — sporting my finest Brooklyn black and white, explaining to the Nets newcomer what it feels like to at least compete for a playoff spot. It’s a weekend to celebrate, after all.