The beat brought us to East Rutherford N.J. this past week, where the Nets still have a practice facility (and yes, they still use it, making for a particularly brutal two-river crossing to get to the BK).
Jason Kidd was the featured speaker, and he spoke not in black and white – the team’s new colors – but in pink and vanilla.
Pink was for Pepto-Bismol, which Kidd has always drank before games and which he continues to plan to gulp down before making his inaugural coaching debut. Vanilla was how he described last year’s version of the Nets, who then were without two of the most intense competitors in basketball – Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.
The common belief over the summer was that some of Garnett’s intensity would spill over to Brook Lopez, who is about as intense as a Sunday afternoon at the Paramus Mall. But Kidd dispelled that notion, saying “Brook is Brook” while noting that laid-back players can actually be successful in this league. The comparison he used was Dirk Nowitzki.
Take that for what it is worth. Their games couldn’t be any more different, but both Dirk and Brook are certainly from the school of laid-back demeanors. When Lopez went down in the first round against the Chicago Bulls, he certainly could have used some of the fire in the belly that Joakim Noah displayed that night.
I’m still not sure who I would pick in a rematch of a Bulls-Nets playoff series, but that is my right since it is only the end of September and we have not yet seen how well Pau Gasol will fit into the Bulls lineup once they acquire him from the Lakers. (Get used to me saying that.) But I am of the opinion that the Nets will rule the Atlantic Division this season, likely going into the postseason as a No. 3 seed behind Miami and Indiana.
But I also am of the firm belief that the Heat and Pacers will meet again in the Eastern Conference finals, and anybody concentrating too much on the East will be spinning their wheels if they are hoping for anything else. (Again, a September opinion. Let’s see about Gasol in the meantime.)
With so many changes across the NBA landscape, especially in the coaching ranks, this is going to be quite the season. Could you ever imagine Brad Stevens having the same NBA job security as Gregg Popovich? That’s where we’re at.
And here is where the 30 NBA teams are at, IMHO, with training camps opening.
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