The recent additions of Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge by the Brooklyn Nets have lifted them from the odds-on favorite to win the Eastern Conference to something even more substantial.
The NBA’s villains.
At least that’s the popular narrative that’s been pushed in the wake of Brooklyn’s signing of Aldridge, a seven-time All-Star who inked with the Nets late last week after being bought out by the San Antonio Spurs a few days prior.
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Nash Weighs in on Nets as the Villains
Ahead of Brooklyn’s 112-107 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday, Nash was asked about that “villain” characterization of his team.
“I don’t even know what that means, like ‘villains’ and the context of it,” Nash said, via SNY. “[A member of the Nets PR team] just told me that Blake’s comment this morning was, ‘Hold on, everyone told me I suck for the last two years. Now everyone’s saying I’m the villain because I’m here?’ So, I mean, a lot of it is just narratives. People love to talk, talk hoops (in the) barbershop and whatever it may be. That stuff is not something that I really partake in. I’m kind of busy with the nuts and bolts here.”
That was a perfectly adequate response, but it was the way Nash ended the press conference shortly thereafter that made it memorable.
He first thanked reporters for attending the presser before letting out an actual roar, even raising his hands to further the point. Then he couldn’t help but laugh.
How’s that for leaning into a narrative?
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Nash Knows Nothing Is Guaranteed
Yes, the Nets have a bona-fide Big Three with superstars Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving. And yes, their supporting cast just received a huge boost with the additions of Griffin and Aldridge, who have 13 All-Star Game appearances between them.
But nothing is guaranteed in the NBA. Nash knows that better than most.
During his pregame press conference Monday, the Nets’ first-year coach brought up a personal example. He was traded to the Lakers ahead of the 2012-13 season, raising the expectations for a squad that included Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Metta World Peace and Antawn Jamison. That team was bounced in a four-game sweep by the Spurs in the opening round of the playoffs.
“When I joined the Lakers, little did I know — I was an All-Star the year before I came there — broke my knee my first or second game with the Lakers. My body has never been the same,” Nash said. “So you never know what’s around the corner. There were a few of us, I think, maybe more than a few of us on that Lakers team, that were on the wrong side of the hill, so to speak. So although it looked at the outset like this was going to be magical, it just never transpired. So nothing is set in stone. You’ve got to try to put together the best team that you can, and then you’ve got to build that team. And that team has got to come together. It’s got to find that cohesion and understanding and chemistry.
“Frankly, it’s a young man’s game, so you’ve got to have some youth and athleticism to win in this business. We’re hoping that we have all the pieces and it’s just a matter of how hard we work and how much we care and the investment we put into this.
To that point, Nash said he hasn’t listened to outside views on his team.
“I don’t hear it,” Nash said. “I live in my Nets bubble, so I don’t know what anyone said about us, to be honest with you. I have no clue. I don’t know what to tell you. We traded for James Harden. We gave up some really good young players and draft picks — tons of them. We got two guys in the buyout market that are big names and have had great careers and are still able to contribute. It’s not like we did anything illegal. I don’t know what we’re supposed to do — not try to add to our roster and just sit pat? That’s the idea of this league, is to try to put together the best team that you can put together.”
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