Sometimes, it's hard to remember what it was like being a Nets fan a decade and a half ago in the swamps of Jersey, with Jason Kidd, Kenyon Martin, Richard Jefferson and Kerry Kittles running wild and Keith Van Horn bombing from the outside. They didn't win it all, but came close twice (and they even had draft picks!!)
In an interview with Adrian Wojnarowski, K-Mart offers a refresher course for those fans who experienced it and a history lesson for those who didn't. It offers not just backstage-at-the-circus gossip but hilarious commentary on some of the era's great moments.
Martin, who claims his vertical matches his age (38), talked about his time with Byron Scott and Lawrence Frank -- the former who he didn't much get along with, the latter who he thinks deserves another shot in the NBA.
He recalled how in his first season, still affected by a broken leg and ligament tear his last year in Cincinnati, he heard that Scott had questioned his work ethic.
"I went and talked to Byron," Martin said. "I went in his office, closed the door. 'Listen, this is what it is, man. I’m out here busting my ass for you, for this organization. I’m not healthy right now. Work with me. Like, don’t go to the media. Like, why you going to them, f---ing talking to them? They ain’t in here doing this s--- with us.’ "
He said Scott's preparation as a head coach was wanting and that Lawrence Frank, who he referred to as "L," was a workaholic for whom preparation was everything. He admitted as well that he couldn't understand why the Nets never could get consistent sellout crowds at the Meadowlands, comparing it with his time at Cincinnati.
One of the funniest moments he recalled, was the 2004 playoffs when Tim Thomas complained about him. Martin cut out the New York Post headline --"Whiny Tim"-- and taped it to his practice jersey for all the media to see. He also recounted how Thomas came to a Dallas club -- and had to be escorted out the back door. He reveled in what the Nets did to the Knicks back then -- "kicked their ass ... foot-to-ass."
Martin had kind words to say about a number of people he met along with the way, but one of them was not Bruce Ratner who bought the team just as he was a free agent. The Nets declined to offer Martin a contract, saying they would let the market detemine his value, then make a decision. After the Nuggets offered Martin a $92 million deal --and frontloaded it, the Nets declined to match. Martin blamed Ratner, telling him later, "I feel you cheated me, you cheated us, you cheated Nets fans, you cheated everybody, man."
Martin also admitted he was sometimes his own worst enemy and recalled a meeting he had with David Stern his office on the 18th floor of the Olympic Tower on Fifth Avenue. Stern was not pleased.
"Do you think people did not give you the credit for that basketball IQ, for how you thought the game?" Woj asked. "For whatever reason: was it they had preconceived ideas of who you were? Stereotype you? It felt like you never did."
"When you throw a few f-bombs or a few four-letter words in between a statement, people tend to block out the statement and the message," Martin said.