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Lionel Hollins becoming the face of the Brooklyn Nets

Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Let's face it. Lionel Hollins is the dominant personality of the Brooklyn Nets. It's not any of the players despite their healthy contacts. Nor is it Mikhail Prokhorov whose lengthy absences make that impossible. Billy King? He's on the phone or should be!

Hollins isn't just old school in terms of his coaching style. He can be gruff, even dismissive, in his daily interviews with the media. He can be stubborn and isn't big (an understatement) on analytics. It's all seat-of-the-pants as he shuffles the NBA's most expensive roster with regularity ... and increasing success. He has to understand that he has job security -- the Nets can't fire or lose another coach.  So he's willing to say and do things others couldn't or wouldn't.

Take New Years Day. He was asked if he was concerned about bruising the egos of Deron Williams and Brook Lopez he launched into a three-minute, 32-second, 645-word (Mike Mazzeo counted) soliloquy described as "defiant."

"It’s not a demotion. It really isn’t," Hollins said as Mazzeo reports. "They’re still part of the team. Neither one of them got cut. They both go to the game every day and get paid every two weeks -- and they get paid handsomely.

"I just think it’s basketball and today’s society gets into, ‘Well, he’s a max player so he’s supposed to get all the minutes and get all the shots. Nobody else can shoot the ball. He shouldn’t even play defense. He shouldn’t even do anything but what he’s good at.’ I think basketball has always been a five-man group balanced, playing together, everybody contributing on offense."

Etc., etc.

It's getting noticed. Here's how Johnnette Howard of ESPN New York described Hollins...

Prokhorov has reason for hope, too. The latest Nets coach he hired -- plain-speaking Lionel Hollins -- is willing to go where no Nets coach has recently gone before. Hollins seems determined to find out whether so-called franchise player Deron Williams and center Brook Lopez have the heart and games to be determined team cornerstones who win titles -- or just guys who are content to get paid a lot.

Hollins' unapologetic decision to slap both players on the second team and keep them there -- "Why would I change? We're winning," he barked the other night -- may be a prelude to a trade of one, or both, benched starters. And it's about time. The Nets should quit treading water and force a reckoning of what Williams and Lopez are and aren't. And Hollins has the guts to do it.

Of course, he has to win ... and win big, considering the stakes. This is New York, where style or shtick can be quickly dismissed if it doesn't work. We shall see.