Tuesday, 10 July 2012
NEW YORK, NEW YORK…HERE WE COME!
No Sleep Till Brooklyn Reign.
By QUETT WALKER
If you have been paying close attention to any NBA news for the last couple of weeks, all the rave has been about teams trying to better themselves for the upcoming season. First it was the NBA draft, where the biggest and brightest players coming out of college have decided to embark upon their journey into the professional basketball league that is the NBA. Now that the draft has come and gone, teams are now focusing on all the free agents that have been available to negotiate as of midnight on July 1.
The biggest team in the free agent hunt is definitely the Nets. After having spent 35 years in New Jersey, the franchise is due to start it tenure in its brand new stadium in the city of Brooklyn, New York. One of the biggest concerns that was presented with the Nets a few weeks ago was the fact they would be moving into a brand new stadium in the Mecca of basketball that is the state of New York without any big names on its roster. They knew how important it was to try and resign their all-star point guard Deron Williams to a new contract but this wasn’t going to happen until they could guarantee Williams that the team could attract and sign other big names. The Nets have actually did just that so far by recently acquiring 6 time all-star Joe Johnson in a trade with the Atlanta Hawks and resigning solid role player Gerald Wallace as well. These moves have definitely triggered Williams to resign with the Nets a couple of days ago with hopes of obtaining further players, but we all know which player the Nets really want to sign.
It’s no secret that the Nets have been trying to court Dwight Howard into signing with them since the start of last season which has cause a disruptive presence on the Orlando Magic franchise where Howard currently plays. Much speculation surrounded the Magic since Howard never signed an extension to stay with Orlando beyond the 2012-2013 season. This caused whispers around the league that Howard was tired of playing on a team that has steadily declined in their performance since reaching the finals in 2009 against the Lakers. After facing two first round exits in the last two years and failure to surround Dwight with talent that can take the team to the next level once again, it is totally understandable the frustration that he is facing. This is clearly evident and management has shown an attempt to convince Dwight to stay by fulfilling his request to have his coach Stan Van Gundy fired and they have even persuaded General Manager Otis Smith to resign. Orlando hopes by doing this it is showing Howard that they take his concerns seriously and want to move in a new direction since the old one hasn’t clearly worked for a while. However Orlando have taken a big gamble in shaking up the coach and the front office if Dwight doesn’t decide to resign beyond next season.
What the Nets are attempting to do is to simply follow a trend that has emerged in the NBA a long time ago where a team would attempt to have more than one all-star or super star player present on its roster. A lot of individuals are blaming Lebron James when he chose to sign with the Miami Heat in 2010 as they already had 2 of the top 20 players in the league, being Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. They claim that this has upset the equilibrium of the NBA whereas only a handful of teams in the league would possess most of the NBA’s best players, thus creating an imbalance by placing teams without all-stars and superstars on the lower end of the spectrum. It seems as these same individuals have forgotten what happened in 1996 when Charles Barkley joined the Rockets to play alongside Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon or in 1999 when Portland put together its super team with Steve Smith, Scottie Pippen etc. However my favourite one is when Karl Malone and Gary Payton went to the Lakers to join forces with Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant in 2004. In addition, Steve Nash has JUST recently agreed to sign with the Lakers to team up with a volatile Metta World Peace, an aging Kobe Bryant and frontcourt of Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum.
This just proves the point that the Nets are not the only one in pursuit of creating a super team. This trend is something that is going to continue to happen and there is no stopping it as players, owners, and GMs are putting more focus on winning a championship now and not just playing for the love of the game anymore.
The Nets’ mission is a very clear one. They want to launch themselves into the upper echelon of the Eastern conference to challenge teams like the Bulls and Heat and perhaps replicate a trip to the NBA Finals like they did back in 2002 & 2003 and what better stage to do it on than the media centre that is New York. As their Russian owner Mikhail Prokhorov has indicated, money is no object and he has even guaranteed the franchise a championship by 2015. By the looks of the off season activity so far, he seems to be on his way to keeping that promise if he can pull of the Dwight Howard signing.
Let’s just hope they can achieve this without breaking the bank while attempting to provide a high level of basketball in the city with the most loyal, toughest and most cynical fans of the sport of basketball, The Big Apple.