We have a bit of an eclectic mix this weekend, as we look around the vast fan wasteland that is the NBA lockout. But rather than focus on hockey or the Russian parliamentary election, we're looking at a bit of history, a bit of geography.
We also take a look at how the Nets' Milton Lee might stock the Armor--even offering a name; examine the possibilities for an All-Star Game in Brooklyn in 2014 or beyond; check out Darryl Dawkins' new career with the Nets; examine how the Nets' moves overseas fit with the team's pioneering role in international basketball; and wonder why the Nets missed a golden opportunity on Brooklyn this weekend.
Every Sunday, we’ll be updating the Nets off-season with bits and pieces of information, gossip, etc. to help take the edge off missing the playoffs, and now the lockout. We will rely on the Nets’ beat reporters and others who slip interesting stuff into larger stories, blogs, tweets...plus our own reporting and analysis.
All-Star Game in Brooklyn? Don't Get Your Hopes Up
There's been a lot of speculation in the press this week about the All-Star Game coming to New York in 2014. The Barclays Center will be completed and have more a year of experience. Madison Square Garden's "transformation" will finally be complete and two "skybridges" will cross the arena, obliterating the view of the arena's signature architectural feature: its ceiling. Way to go, Dolans. A decision will be made a year from now.
Sounds good, but again the lockout could interfere. If the season is lost (expect a decision in early January), then Orlando which currently has the league's newest arena would have a claim on the next available all-Star date. Also, having a new arena or a "transformed" one is no guarantee you'll get the game. San Antonio opened the AT&T Center in 2002 and is still waiting. Also, 2014 is the first New York Super Bowl...a month earlier. Two big events back to back probably hurts things as well.
Chocolate Thunder in the House
No ex-Net is as visible promoting Brooklyn and the Nets in general as Darry Dawkins. Chocolate Thunder has planted trees, opened playgrounds, run clinics, mentored kids, headlined pro-Nets rallies, hooped it up with Newark's mayor, even traveled to Beijing and Shanghai with Bruce Ratner to recruit Chinese investors for Barclays Center. On more than one occasion, he has angered arena critics. His popularity is so great internally that team marketing department even raised the issue on whether the Nets should retire his number!
As a "Nets community ambassador", he gets paid for some --but not all-- of this and not just by the Nets, but by the NBA and his other team, the 76ers.
"I do a lot of stuff with the Nets and the Sixers when they call," he told the Sixers website last month. "A lot of it is for charity. You don’t do a lot of stuff to get paid and when you coach at the community college level, you certainly don’t do it to get paid; you do it for experience. I enjoy giving back, so that’s been the fun part of my life."
Now 54, Dawkins has recently been the subject of a lot of publicity with interviews and profiles...including one where he reveals that Stevie Wonder of all people nicknamed him "Chocolate Thunder".
If you want to say hi, Dawkins, Nets Dancers and Sly will be signing autographs on Sunday at Electronics Expo in Wayne, NJ on Route 46 West from 2-3pm.
We've done a lot on Europe and international basketball in general this week. There's Deron Williams' future with Besiktas and Bojan Bogdanovic's present with Team Croatia. The tempo is likely to increase over the next six weeks. Eurobasket starts at the end of August and goes on for almost three weeks. Bogdanovic will play at least five games in Eurobasket and three or four this week in the London Invitational. Williams has to be in Turkey for training camp on September 1.
It really shouldn't be any surprise that more Nets have signed overseas than any other team, with Williams, Sasha Vujacic, Jordan Farmar and Mario West all affixing their signatures to contracts drawn up in multiple languages. The Nets have an international past and globalized future. Just ask the next prime minister of Russia. Oops, we're getting ahead of ourselves again.
In fact, there is no NBA team with more of a pioneering past in international basketball. Not only is the Big Russian the first international owner of an NBA team, and Drazen Petrovic the first international player to make the All-NBA team. Lesser known is this: the Nets were the first team to draft an international player, Oscar Schmidt of Brazil, a 6'8" small forward who shot so well his nickname in Brazil was "Holy Hand." Schmidt was drafted in the sixth round in the 1984 draft—the same draft that produced Hakeem Olajuwon, Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley.