Historic? Not quite.
Gut-wrenchingly painful to watch? Yes.
Embarrassing and demoralizing to an entire fan base? Check.
The most logical destination for free-agent to be LeBron James? You betcha.
The Nets entered the 2009-2010 season with low expectations, and through a combination of injuries, insufficient depth, and lack of experience, they exceeded those expectations with ease.
They're losing ways corrupted some youngsters (I'm talking to you, Chris Douglas-Roberts) to the point where their skills actually regressed, and their interest in basketball waned.
Fortunately, that's all in the past. The Nets will be making some serious waves this offseason, and would like everyone to know (and by everyone, I mean LeBron James) that their performance last season in no way reflects the current state of the franchise.
They have a multitude of pieces already in place on their roster - not to mention three first round draft picks, an influential rap mogul/part owner who happens to know James on a personal level, a brand new win-at-all-costs Russian billionaire owner, and a minty fresh new arena in downtown Brooklyn in the works.
"But they're the Nets," you say. "The laughing stock of the NBA, a franchise with no luster, no real history, or NBA championships. Are those assets really enough to pry LeBron from New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, or Miami?
Read on, as I address the six main reasons why LeBron James should call New Jersey (and eventually, Brooklyn) his new home.
"I got a million ways to get it
Choose one (choose wisely)
Hey, bring it back (bring it back)
Now double your money and make a stack
I’m on to the next one
On to the next one
On to the next one
On to the next one
On to the next one
On to the next one
On to the next one."
I couldn't have said it more eloquently myself.
One has to wonder if Jay-Z's recent hit "On to the Next One" wasn't written as a logical plea for James to jump ship from the S.S. Mike Brown and join him as a member of the Nets.
As part owner, one has to think he'll do everything in his power to lure The King to his neck of the woods.
He's certainly not making any money off the team at the moment, so, as a businessman and a sports fan, it's in his best interest to get LeBron in a Nets uniform.
Quick, name the only franchise in the NBA with an All-Star center and and All-Star point guard currently on the same roster...
Okay, so I'm speculating a bit here, but with all respect to Al Horford, if the Nets' record wasn't so hideously awful, it goes without saying that Lopez deserved to make his first All-Star team last year.
Despite typically being targeted all season by opposing teams as the lone scoring threat on a depleted Nets team, and not having a completely healthy Devin Harris dish him the rock for most the year, Lopez still thrived, and made the proverbial "leap" in his second season with New Jersey.
Combine a matured and rejuvenated Lopez entering his third season, with a healthy Devin Harris, and a handful of young talent (Courtney Lee, Terrence Williams, Yi Jianlian, a possibly re-energized Douglas-Roberts) that puts to shame the supporting cast the Cavs supplied LeBron, and you get quite a large window of opportunity for James to succeed.
LeBron would settle perfectly in the small forward spot, which had been occupied by a revolving door of Jarvis Hayes, Williams, and Douglas-Roberts last season.
The Heat, Clippers, and most certainly the Knicks can't come close to competing with the young, talented chips the Nets have to support James with.
Add an immediate game changer like Kentucky's John Wall to the mix, and you have the recipe for the most drastic worst-to-first scenario in league history.
“To the fans, whether in New Jersey, Brooklyn, or Moscow, I will do everything I can to give you a winning team.”
That, Nets fans, is your new owner. Feels kinda good, doesn't it? Empowering, even. The Nets now have a visible owner with the deepest of pockets who clearly isn't being candid about the goals for his new franchise.
And the metals tycoon isn't just a bored rich kid looking to play with new toys. He's already tasted basketball success as a partial owner of Russia's most dominant Euroleague team over the past decade, CSKA Moscow.
He's the Russian Mark Cuban, only not as embarrassing and maniacal. And he will most certainly open up some new doors for the Nets with the money he's willing to spend to keep the team competitive and make fans forget about last season as soon as possible.
John Calipari's NBA record: 72-112
John Calipari's NCAA record: 480-143
John Calipari is a great coach.
Let me rephrase.
John Calipari is a great COLLEGE coach.
He's already had one unsuccessful stint with the Nets. Why would he want to open that can of worms a second time?
Granted one could also argue that the team makes the coach rather than the coach makes the team. And those Nets teams in the mid-late nineties which Calipari inherited would probably get a run for their money from his '09 Kentucky Wildcats squad.
On a team led by LeBron James, with a supporting cast of John Wall, Brook Lopez, and Devin Harris? That's a nucleus he could likely do a little more damage with.
It's not improbable to think Calipari would follow Wall to Newark from Kentucky, but at this point we'll address these rumors simply for what they are: rumors.
If you even remotely followed college basketball in 2010, then it's no secret who the consensus No. 1 pick will be in the upcoming NBA Draft—it's just a matter of where he'll play.
And with the NBA Draft Lottery just days away, Nets fans must be champing at the bit, hoping to lock down that No. 1 pick, thus ensuring that John Wall will be draped in Navy and Red come the 2011 season.
Wall may be the final chip needed to convince LeBron that none of his other suitors—Miami, LAC, not even Chicago, and certainly not New York, have the talent or upside to compete for an NBA title(s) in the years to come.
The only question that remains is where Wall will play. Despite being 6'4", he's projected as a point guard, and it'd be a shame to put him in a position where he can't utilize his above average passing skills.
But Devin Harris is entrenched at point guard, and Courtney Lee—despite having an extremely lackluster 2010 season, has still shown enough flashes over the past two seasons to be locked in as the starting SG.
That being said, he'll likely be the first option off the bench to relieve either Lee or Harris, depending on the matchup, and I doubt Wall will complain much about being a sixth man on a team led by LeBron James.
LeBron James wants to play in Brooklyn. In a brand new stadium. In front of a whole new cast of rabid fans desperately searching for reasons to cut their allegiance from the perennially disappointing Knicks.
James knows this, and the Nets know this.
Unfortunately, the Nets also know it will take two years for those statements to become reality.
The Nets' future home, The Barclays Center in Brooklyn, won't be ready until 2013, leaving the Nets to play out their final two seasons in The Prudential Center in Newark, NJ.
Not exactly the bright lights of New York.
Many insiders sight the two year delay to Brooklyn as the determining factor in LeBron making the move to the Nets. If the Nets were to become the "Brooklyn Nets" in 2011, the move would basically be a no-brainer.
So it comes down to personal preference to LeBron. Is playing two years in a bridge city (a name that should be reserved for Brooklyn) like Newark worth the wait to get to New York? Or is settling for medicore talent of the Knicks but playing on the biggest stage more important to him?
Conventional wisdom says the latter. LeBron coined himself "King James" for a reason. He wants to be the biggest star, with the biggest contract, with the biggest endorsement deals, on the biggest stage the NBA has to offer.
Cleveland, Ohio certainly didn't fit the bill, and unfortunately neither does Newark.