As Mark Morgan of SiriusXM said during Wednesday’s interview with Randy Foye, the Nets shooting guard is started to sound more like a coach. And indeed, he did. In doing so, he painted a positive even optimistic picture of his seventh team in a 10-year career.
Foye did everything from offer praise to Kenny Atkinson —”if you’re going to do something, do it every single day” — to singling out teammates who’ve surprised him: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (the most impressive), Brook Lopez and Jeremy Lin.
But like any good coach-in-training, Foye spoke about those who are downgrading his team’s prospects, essentially saying hard work and team play is what it’s all about, not punditry.
When Sam Mitchell, who was a Nets assistant in 2010-11, noted that most pundits have predicted the Nets would finish “low in the standings,” Foye interjected, “last, last!”
“It’s probably someone who don't play basketball, sitting there looking at certain names that sticks out to them and say, 'oh, you know well, this team is going to be good, put them here,” said Foye. “No one has given us a chance which is great for bulletin board material for us.”
How get beyond that?
“I just tell the younger guys, dont pay attention to that. If you play hard every single night, if you play together every single night, and smart, you're going to have a chance. If you play for the 'Brooklyn' on the front of our jerseys, instead of the names on our backs, you're going to have a chance.”
“Up at this level, it's pretty much even aside from the LeBrons, the Kobe's, the KD's and those guys, stick out, but there's an even playing field. Everyone was All-American in high school, everyone was an all-American lottery pick, whatever. So what separates you is your hard work.”
Asked who’s stood out, Foye quickly responded, “I think Rondae.
“Rondae has really stood out defensively. I knew he played with a lot of energy, but just his attention to detail. He guarded Melo the other night ... Melo hit a couple of tough shots on him ... but just the way he comes in every day. He'll lift before practice, then he'll want to shoot after. He'll want to shoot after. He just ... everything he do, he wants to get better. That's something as a veteran player in the NBA, i tell him, 'if you do this every single day, for six to seven months, you're going to be really good in this league.’”
As for Lin, Foye was enthusiastic about his play ... and his leadership.
“We went out to eat a couple of times, we've played in the backcourt for at least three weeks now. He's been amazing. I think he's going to shock a lot of people because of his work ethic. I say it over and over and over again. what people don't see is the little things, getting the guys together, taking them out to eat and that carries over into a game and that carries over onto the court. If someone misses an assignment and someone drives the baseline, he'll be right there to help him. If they get beat, they know their teammate is going to be right there, vice versa.”
And he offered a recent anecdote about how Lopez leads.
“Sam, this is what impresses me. Kenny got on me, Brook, Jeremy and Trever Booker. He got on us because we didn't do a defensive assignement and he got on us hard. He started with Brook and brook was, 'you're right, coach, you're right!' When a coach is getting on someone, you don't see that a lot of times around the league and then when we came out in practice, the first drill was the one that a lot of us messed up on, and Brook was the first one flying around, blocking shots, taking charges, everything. As long as he is healthy, he's going to be a force out there."
Foye wouldn’t talk wins or losses, but he did note his history with underrated teams.
“It's easy for me to block out,” he told Mitchell. “I've been on bad teams where expectations are extremely low and we finished better than what people thought, but at the the end of the year, they don't write that. It's just wins and losses.”