Being Kenny Atkinson can’t be easy, but we —and he— knew what he signed up for.
As head coach of the Brooklyn Nets, Atkinson is currently faced with quite possibly the biggest challenge in the entire NBA. While a long-term three-to-five-year plan is in place, with ‘progress’ being the name of the game, being last place in the league couldn’t be an easy way of living for any true competitor.
Atkinson offered high praise for his group, which include a healthy mix of veterans and prospects, although they’re widely viewed as a young team league-wide.
"They're lifting me up. They lift us up,” Atkinson said when asked about maintaining a healthy morale despite the obvious trials and tribulations the organization has faced. “I keep saying I enjoy coming to work with these guys.”
Another big setback the Nets have had is with the “hamstring of death” that has twice found Jeremy Lin, the player brought in large by Atkinson run the show.
While Lin, who did not practice (again) Wednesday, has only played 12 out of 40 games, he, Brook Lopez and Randy Foye are a few Nets who have provided some needed guidance during this time to keep the team filled with youngsters, level-headed, according to Atkinson.
"It's a player driven league. Our leadership's been good,” he said. “Brook’s been really good, Randy's been good, Jeremy, even though he’s out has been really good, just keeping perspective.”
In order to combat and overcome the hardships brought upon the team via injuries, growing pains, and of course, the losing, resiliency is required. Atkinson praised the team for having just that, which is difficult to maintain even when knowing this isn’t built to be a ‘win-now’ unit.
“They just come to work, they're pretty resilient...more resilient than I am,” Atkinson admitted to the media members present at Wednesday’s practice. “They come from winning cultures and I think they also understand that every situation is different, they understand where we are. They’re smart guys, that doesn't mean they're accepting it. I am really pleased with how they come to work every day. They come out with a good spirit and I hope that's the culture we're promoting."