When I was growing up I had this older cousin, Sal. Sal got all the hens from around the way. I swear every night he was cooped up with a new one. And then, one day, he wasn’t. I can’t put my wing on the exact date, but it was sudden.
He would still come around and try to chirp some game. Occasionally he would find a feathered friend for a few days, but nobody to take home to mama Sal. And he knew it.
Anyway, why am I telling you about Sal? Because the Nets are just like him.
Sal used to have it. The Nets used to have it. Even last year Brooklyn’s home team could hang with the best, beating the Thunder on the road, the Heat four times — with Lebron — and bagging countless other big wins. And now? They’re dwindling faster than a half-eaten bag of jalapeno-cheddar Combos when it blows across my path.
I mean, c’mon, they lost to the Milwaukee Bucks. The same Bucks that employ a control-mongering, no-tie-wearing, bald coach. You know the Kidd I mean. If you’re going to win one game, at least do it against that little guy.
It has become clear to me that these guys don’t have it. The big names — Kevin Garnett, Deron Williams, Brook Lopez, and Joe Johnson — have become the overpaid names. Iso Joe could barely get off the ground to let a shot off in triple overtime against Milwaukee. I’d think if “iso” is in your nickname, you’d have some ups.
Johnson followed that in Oklahoma City by missing a late free throw against the Thunder, giving the injury-riddled team a chance to win on the final shot. Luckily for me, and especially for my fellow bar patrons, the Nets edged that one out. But in a result that should come as a shock to no one, San Antonio whupped our guys. That team is like the anti-Sal — instead of fading into gray, middle-aged lumpiness, those fellows always find a way to win.
Now a lot of my advisors have been telling me — and trust me, I’ve got more people yakking in my ear than John Gotti — “Crummy you shortsighted bird, the Nets started 10–21 last year. They’ll turn it around again.”
Look, work your jaw all you want, but keep your spit out of my skull. Last year in-over-his-head coach Jason Kidd stumbled on gold when Brook Lopez got hurt. Lionel Hollins is the guy Nets management should have hired in the first place, but even he can only do so much with these dinosaurs. And how many untapped talents can there really be on the bench?
It is still early, but where do the Nets go from here? I look to Sal for answers. Sal has reinvented himself a bit in recent years. He knows he can’t drink like he used to, or get the tail-feathers shaking like he usedta could. He joined Match.com and he has gained a weird self-awareness. And he’s still at it, taking fly honeys to the swanky Park Slope bird-feeders and trying to figure out his next move.
Maybe the Nets can take a page out of his playbook and make it off the runway again. Or maybe someone else will get hurt. Me, I’ll be tossing back a boilermaker every time the Nets flub a lead.
Speaking of which, spare a buck for a beer?