It's hard for an event not to be a family affair when the person being introduced has seven brothers, a mother and assorted other relatives in the audience.
That was the overwhelming sense of Monday's press conference to introduce Kenny Atkinson to the media. Atkinson got emotional more than once in talking about his family and those who helped him --finally-- get a head coaching job in the NBA after eight years as any assistant, four in Atlanta and four before than in New York.
Atkinson and his boss, Sean Marks, not only showered each other with praise, but spoke about how they will work together.
"There's a unified vision," Atkinson told the media after the press conference. "it's not going to be management or coaches or management or players. We're going to be together. He (Marks) was out on the floor today. watching them work out. For the GM to come out, it's important for the players to see that.unified front that we're really trying to build it."
Marks said something similar and went beyond those in the building Monday. "We're all on the same page. In talking to Mr. Prokhorov, he sat in and he was right there interviewing Kenny and he made it well and clear things are going to be done a bit differently. No knock on what was done in the past. He's given us the reins to build this thing our way and if it takes some time, he does. We'll be doing everything we can to turn things around quicker."
There were also appearances by players -- the four young guys who are there almost daily --Markel Brown, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Chris McCullough and Sean Kilpatrick. Thaddeus Young praised Atkinson, who he said he texts with all the time, and Marks, who he said he had brought professionalism to the organization. No more players showing up late for practice. Mrs. Young confirmed the regular text exchanges.
In return, Atkinson praised both Young who he called "my guy Thaddeus Young" and Brook Lopez who he said he had spoken to several times.
"I spoke with him yesterday and I've been speaking with him over the past couple of weeks about our vision and what we're trying to accomplish here, and I'm excited for him to lead this going forward and to have a guy like Thaddeus, an established player in the NBA, an excellent player," said Atkinson. "Two great guys to follow and some young talent, that's a great start."
Marks was a little less definitive. "I certainly not looking to trade them. What I said before is you have to be fluid. You never know what's going to come your way. I hope that they're part of this. They're both terrific people. They're both competitive people and I hope to maximize their talents."
All that said, all that optimism and emotion and good feelings, no one was willing to put a number on how many wins the Nets could wrack up next season (and that's probably a good thing.) There was no claim, like the one Mikhail Prokhorov made in January that the team is "one, two players" and "a lot of luck" from returning to championship contention (and that's definitely a good thing). No more puffed chests, inflated rhetoric.
Instead, it was all measured. Asked what his vision of team was, Atkinson set a different bar for progress than you hear from most New York coaches.
"Build. Build patiently, intelligently, and from my standpoint, the message that these guys are gonna be hearing is that we're gonna put a competitive group first and foremost on the floor," he said promising that "Brooklyn fans if they watch a game, they're looking and saying 'Man, that's a competitive group. That group competes.'
That's all Nets fans can ask for, all families can ask for .. honesty in the face of a challenge. "These are words today. We're going to have to show the players, show New York that it's really true and that's the exciting part in the next weeks, the next months, the next year."