We Gon' Be Alright
“Wouldn't you know We been hurt, been down before When our pride was low Lookin' at the world like, "Where do we go?"
Kung Fu Kenny, Kendrick Lamar raps about racial inequality on ‘Alright’ but those lyrics could be just as easily applied to the current situation in Brooklyn. The Brooklyn Nets have been the butt of many jokes throughout the Association. In an interview with USA Today Kevin Durant mocked the team’s current plight when responding to questions about the lack of quality across the league. “Am I the reason that Brooklyn gave all their picks to Boston? Like, am I the reason that they’re not that good [laughs].”
That’s where it all began. The Billy King trade which continues to plague the franchise’s fortunes. However, I’m a glass half-full kinda guy and without that embarrassing move made four years ago the Nets don’t make the seismic cultural change in acquiring rookie coach Kenny Atkinson and New Zealand-born GM Sean Marks.
Jeremy Lin is not the key to this franchise’s hopes, though he has brought some life into the team, especially within the fan-base. The key to the Nets’ fortunes lies with Atkinson and Marks.
The process to success began this season. Most people wouldn’t see a 20 win season as successful but you look a little closer as to what is being built here you come to realise it’s not about the win-loss record. It’s about forming an identity on and off the court and getting everyone in the organization to buy in. The players certainly have. Even in a season where wins were few and far in between the morale remained steadfast. Just a few weeks ago a bunch of Nets players gathered together for a mini camp in Colorado Springs. If that’s not buying into what Kenny and Sean are selling I don’t know what is.
This isn’t going to be a quick fix for Brooklyn. They can’t just go out and sign a Paul George or Jimmy Butler and expect things to turnaround like that. To form a sustainable winning culture it’s about the bigger picture as Marks’ continued to emphasise at an end of season press conference. “If you go after one of the top-tier guys, you obviously would hope to get him, but does that really make you better? We’re going to have to build this strategically, have patience with it.” If only Billy King had the same pragmatic view as Marks when he was helming the franchise maybe the team wouldn’t be where they are now.
As for on court performance the Nets certainly have a ways to go, though the blueprint is there. Atkinson has instilled a playing system that allows everyone on the roster to thrive. The emphasis of the offensive system has been pace, floor spacing and outside shooting. The defense has been a work in progress, with hustle and energy a key focus. Just watch over the coming years as the Nets gain more talent and see natural growth from core youngsters in Caris LeVert, Isaiah Whitehead and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson; the wins will come.
Marks continues to preach patience; and as Kenny (Kendrick not Atkinson) said “we gon’ be alright”. As a Nets fan, I’m finally beginning to believe that.