The honeymoon period in Brooklyn is over.
Professional sports returned to the city, but did so in the form of the 14-14 Nets.
They're not the laughing stock they have been in recent seasons, but their uninspired play of late has borne some resemblances.
Following the team's most recent showing, a 108-93 drubbing at the hands of the Milwaukee Bucks, emotions have started to sink in.
With just three wins in their past 12 games, the Nets have gone from playoff lock to hopeful in a matter of weeks.
And that fact doesn't sit well with star forward Gerald Wallace, who suggests that it may not be taking the same toll on all of his teammates:
Gerald: “Guys are content with the situation we are in & I'm f------ pissed off about us losing, especially losing the way we are losing.”— Rod Boone (@rodboone) December 27, 2012
Wallace isn't the first NBA star to ever voice his complaints. But his words carry a different meaning than most.
His approach to the game of basketball (win at all physical and emotional costs) has earned him the nickname "Crash." Frankly, his style is one seen far too infrequently in today's NBA, particularly among players who, like himself, would have a spot on an NBA roster even without giving their best effort on a nightly basis.
But Wallace understands that the only way to maximize his natural abilities, and therefore put his team in the best position to win, is by showing that same intensity that makes him a fan favorite among basketball purists and casual fans alike:
Wife/daughter reached quick consensus: Gerald Wallace is favorite Net. Wife likes his defense. Daughter likes that he's called "Crash."— Howard Beck (@HowardBeckNYT) December 23, 2012
He knows how to read his team, and adapts his game accordingly.
Luckily for Brooklyn, he has the kind of game that affords him that versatility. When the team needs points, he'll find them (six 15-plus-point outings already this season). When his team needs a defensive stop, it's Wallace drawing the assignment on both post and perimeter players.
And when there's a loose ball on the floor, it's a safe bet that a diving Wallace isn't too far behind.
With Deron Williams (wrist) sidelined for the aforementioned Milwaukee game, naturally it was Wallace who led his club with a game-high eight assists.
The Nets have the superstar talent to not only grab a playoff berth in the weaker Eastern Conference, but also grab a series win or two before their season is over.
But the NBA won't just hand them a free pass to the postseason, no matter how much cake their flashy ownership group and fancy arena can bring the league and the city.
It will take an effort like that of Wallace's. Frankly, it will take an effort far greater than what's been put forth by a number of his teammates throughout the 2012-13 regular season.
*All statistics used in this article are accurate as of 12/26/2012.