The New Jersey Nets’ mercilessly ended their existence as a franchise last Thursday night with a dud performance in Toronto when they scored a season-low 67 points and lost by 31. It was a fitting end to what was a very bad final season in New Jersey. However, before the season officially ended, since their last home game in New Jersey last Monday night, Nets’ CEO and marketing maven Brett Yormark has been on a publicity tour hyping the team’s move to Brooklyn, including the release of their new logo. One of Yormark’s stops was on the “Boomer & Carton” radio show on WFAN in New York City where when talking about the team’s future, said, “This team is bigger than one particular player.” He was obviously referring to Deron Williams.
Upon seeing that comment, as a Nets fan, I shook my head out of complete frustration. Now I like Yormark. I think he has done an outstanding job making the Nets relevant in the marketplace and has created a buzz around the team. But this statement is just preposterous and almost insulting to Net fans. Obviously, he can’t say that the organization currently revolves around one player, but to say the team is bigger than just one player (Deron) is just not true, and hasn’t been true since the summer of 2010.
During the summer of 2010, in what was regarded as the best free agent class in NBA history, the Nets came out swinging. They were coming off a 12-win season with loads of cap space, tons of future draft picks, and a brash new owner. They went after LeBron, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, David Lee, and Amar’e because they wanted to make a statement. They wanted the NBA to know that 12 wins wasn’t going to happen again and they wanted a star on board to prove it. They wanted to sign someone to be the face of the franchise going into Brooklyn. They were desperate for star power, and trumped up their vision of turning a player like LeBron into a global icon.
Ultimately, they didn’t sign any of those players, and as a backup plan, the Nets brought in four players: Johan Petro, Jordan Farmar, Anthony Morrow, and Travis Outlaw. While that wasn’t what they hoped for, the Nets retained cap flexibility and didn’t vastly overpay for mediocre talent, leaving them in a good position going forward to get the star they so desperately craved. This longing for the homerun move to usher in the new era of Nets basketball led to ‘Melo-Drama last season.
As soon as training camp began, the Nets were offering their prized rookie (Derrick Favors), best player (Devin Harris), and multiple draft picks to the Nuggets for Carmelo Anthony. The trade talks lasted through training camp and into the regular season where the Nets yet again struggled as they alienated Harris and destroyed the confidence of Favors. The drama came to an end when Mikhail Prokhorov proclaimed the ongoing saga had taken enough of a toll on his team and trade talks would be halted. That halt lasted about a month before the Nets’ insatiable craving for a superstar got the better of them. They got dragged back into the drama, ultimately to find out ‘Melo wouldn’t sign an extension with them before seeing him get traded to the Knicks. Ouch.
[RELATED - Hello Brooklyn: The Nets Unleash Their New Logo]
The Nets rebounded from that defeat however by acquiring Deron Williams from the Jazz. This was a huge moment for the franchise. They FINALLY got the star they were looking for and would have a year and a half to convince him to stay with the team into Brooklyn. At the moment they acquired Williams though, this team became about him first and everybody else second. The Nets enjoyed a mini-surge in the second half of the season, but still missed the playoffs and headed into what would be a huge offseason for the team.
With the lockout preventing any NBA transactions from occurring over the summer, the Nets were in a holding pattern. The more time they lost, the less of a chance they had to improve the roster to make Williams happy.
The lockout ultimately ended, and upon ending, the Nets’ universe began to center solely around Deron Williams. The Nets began training camp much the same way they had the following year: mired in trade rumors, this time with Dwight Howard.