Rondae Hollis-Jefferson returned to the Brooklyn Nets lineup in a subtle way, although his impact inside the locker room was louder than anybody would see on TV or in the box score.
I was at Monday’s game, as per usual, and didn’t make it inside the scrum for Hollis-Jefferson’s talk with the media. I enjoy listening to hear him speak particularly because of the leadership role I’ve seen grown in him since I first interviewed him as a rookie.
I stuck around and noticed Hollis-Jefferson had a New York Islanders jersey with “CHAP” written on the back. It’s an acronym - a philosophy – that has stuck around with him since he was young.
“Calm, Humble and Patient.”
I realized how much of a leader RHJ is for this team – on and off the court. He’s only 23-years-old, but he’s been around long enough to understand that it’s key to stay calm and optimistic even when times are tough. This has been his outlook on life since he was a kid.
His outlook since he entered the league. The only Net still standing from the old era.
He was one of my first feature stories while covering the Nets. After I saw the story about him buying his mother a house, I knew the Nets drafted a young man with character – the final and perhaps only gift Billy King left for Sean Marks and Kenny Atkinson.
It’s worth reading if you want to know about his journey, and how adversity helped mold him. We sat down, and I told him about some of my struggles growing up, too. Empathy is something that cannot be taught.
I recognized a humbleness in his tone, and still do. In this league, especially with the turnover in Brooklyn from the changing of the guards (King to Marks), I was unsure if he would stick around as long as currently has.
“It’s a way of life,” he told Cory Wright, formerly of BrooklynNets.com now writing for the Islanders. “Be calm through everything, adversity, the trials and things you go through. Be humble through all the praise and success you’ll get. Be patient. Nothing happens overnight.”
When I saw “CHAP” written on the back of the jersey, I thought how much Hollis-Jefferson has grown since my interview with him.
I thought of rookie Jarrett Allen, and what he told the media maybe 10 minutes prior.
“It was good having them [Hollis-Jefferson, LeVert] back, even off the court, like basketball aside, just having them play again, having our teammates healthy.”
Allen is articulate and careful with what he says. He might be a rookie, but he said “off the court” for a reason. These are two guys that have become so important to the growth of this team. It’s natural. No trademark or no nickname. They’re just, “brothers” as they call one another.
Just watch this video of them two with Michael Grady.
“We always call each other brothers,” Hollis-Jefferson told NetsDaily about LeVert in an interview in 2017. “We always try to say, ‘brother, brother, brother!’ you know, put that bug in each others ears just so each of us know that we’re always here for one another.”
Rondae suffered a groin injury in the middle of a blowout game against Milwaukee in late January. He missed the next 11 games and the Nets went 1-10 during that time. It isn’t a coincidence. He’s second on the team in scoring (14.2) and second in rebounding as well (6.4).
“People get confused with being a leader by what they say,” Hollis-Jefferson said earlier in the season. “It’s about what you do and your work ethic and how you come in every day.”
He’s come a long way from that guy who had a “broken shot” coming out of college. A 47 percent shooting clip ain’t too shabby. He’s come a long way. Where he was versus where he is today completes his acronym, individually speaking.
Calm, Humble and Patient.
The entire acronym sticks with you because it can represent what the Nets’ philosophy is right now. They aren’t panicking because of their record nor the draft pick in Cleveland. Certainly not satisfied by any means, but they do see progress. They have the same amount of wins as last year with 21 games left. Staying calm is key.
They’re a humble group of individuals, as they should be considering they’re still young and sit at the bottom of the league. That said, they’ve stood together – from management to the coaching staff and down to the players. It’s real easy for players to get cocky as they get better. They’re only human. But so far, they’ve all said the right things, done all the right things.
This thing could’ve strayed off – and it still can if they don’t stick to their plan… Patience.
It’s been preached since day one and it’s still being preached to this very day. No development will be rushed. This entire turnaround will fail if they try to make quick fixes, the same thing that got them in this mess.
At 20-41, it’s hard to commend the Nets on paper because it doesn’t look good. But they’re heading in the right direction and it’s in large part due to a leader like Hollis-Jefferson. He came back and scored seven points and grabbed four rebounds in Brooklyn’s first victory since January 31.
While the Nets might not be good, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is. And it’s good to see him back on the court and in the locker room. He’s progressed on the court, displays quality character and plays every game like it’s his last.
He is a Brooklyn Net.