By Joe Giglio
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In a sports world demanding of instant gratification, NBA fans, the media and analysts were eager to jump off the narrative of the Nets-Celtics draft day blockbuster trade, and on to a larger, long-term storyline: Will it deliver an NBA Championship to the Brooklyn Nets?
Of course, that will take time to develop, giving us plenty of time to dissect the merits of acquiring aging future Hall of Fame players like Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett in exchange for a multitude of first-round picks, but hindsight is always 20/20.
The aggressiveness of Billy King, with the approval of owner Mikhail Prokhorov, is the right move for the franchise that has gone from inept in New Jersey to a legitimate contender, playing in a beautiful arena in a borough that’s starved for professional sports.
Lambasting the merits of a Deron Williams-Joe Johnson-Pierce-Garnett-Brook Lopez starting five because they might ultimately come up short in their goal of overtaking LeBron James and the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference is cynical, and, to be honest, ridiculous.
For years, aside from the Jason Kidd era, the Nets had no chance to compete for a championship.
Now they do.
Front-office minds must weigh short and long-term goals within every single move made, but they can’t pass up the chance to legitimately compete for a ring when the opportunity presents itself.
It’s clear that the plan, considering the best years of Johnson, Pierce and Garnett have passed, may not work. Williams may never make the jump from excellent point guard to elite leader, which NBA fans have been long awaiting for, and Lopez may always have lingering foot issues stopping him from dominating opposing centers on a nightly basis.
Aside from the obvious limitations of the Nets’ new starting five of former All-Stars, there will always be the juggernaut that awaits in Miami. If Brooklyn is strong enough to surpass Indiana, Chicago and New York in the Eastern Conference, beating the best player in the world, James, still remains an arduous task.
Regardless of how far the Nets go, what Kidd’s opening act looks like or if Pierce and Garnett have much left, the deal had to be made. Brooklyn is on the map, but not for a new arena, colors or a mascot. It’s for basketball reasons now.
Over the course of sports history, great players have changed teams but ultimately failed to deliver a title in the new city as their skills diminished.
Charles Barkley was supposed to be the missing piece for one more Houston Rockets run in the late 90s. Randy Johnson was brought to New York to give the Yankees a left-handed ace to counteract David Ortiz and the Boston Red Sox. Joe Montana and Peyton Manning (with time left to complete the task) changed uniforms and resurrected franchises late in their respective careers, yet didn’t hoist the Lombardi Trophy in those stops.
Does that mean that Houston, New York, Kansas City and Denver regretted those deals? Of course not.
Success is measured in championships, especially in New York, but we must also grade the process that executives and ownership groups use to get their respective teams prepared to climb the mountain.
The Brooklyn Nets might not win the NBA Finals with this group, but give them the chance to try before wondering if anything less is a failure.
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