There were high hopes for the Brooklyn Nets this year. They had a cool part-owner (Jay-Z), a star point guard (Deron Williams) on a new contract and a cool new stadium in one of America’s signature basketball cities. Meanwhile, their rival Knicks had seemingly shot themselves in the foot in the offseason, failing to re-sign Jeremy Lin and instead bringing in a bunch of guys who seemed too old or fat to contribute.
So why are the Brooklyn Nets now the least interesting sports team in the universe?
1. Their roster turned out to be an alchemically created mismatch of bland and overrated and overpaid “stars,” most notably Deron Williams, whose best days are universally behind them.
2. Their actual best player, center Brook Lopez, plays, through no fault of his own, the world’s least aesthetic form of effective offense, focused on below-the-rim layups and set shots.
3. Said players look every day like they just met for the first time and each have the charisma of a chain-link fence except, again, for Lopez, who is too goofy to be a traditional centerpiece star.
4. They’ve fired two coaches in one season, and neither time did anyone say, “Nah, they shouldn’t have fired that guy, he was doing great.”
5. Their culturally significant part-owner/spokesman, Jay-Z, sold his shares and peaced before the playoffs even started, which is like if Matthew Weiner bailed on Mad Men halfway through a season and was replaced by no one.
6. The Knicks turned out to be neither too old nor too fat to be competitive, and they deploy an exciting, three-point-bombing style of play that potential Nets fans in Brooklyn are only a thirty-minute, $2.50 subway ride away from watching if they so choose.
7. Brooklyn itself contains more variety and divergence per square inch than maybe any other place in the United States, which only serves to highlight how many other things you could be doing than watching the Nets.
8. Their black-and-white color scheme, which initially seemed like a badass manifestation of Jay-Z’s all-black-everything ethos, now feels like a perfect monochrome representation of the team’s lack of either personality or even salacious controversy.
and 9. They weren’t bad enough to be appalling (and therefore lottery-worthy) or good-enough to be successful (and therefore winners). They were listlessly mediocre.
In 2013, there was no NBA team I, or anyone, enjoyed watching less than the Brooklyn Nets. The team needs three things: a galvanizing coach; a creative star; and an enthusiastic fanbase. The last one which will have to follow the first two. Until them, the team will remain an unsexy brand in a too-clean stadium, and, most importantly and disappointingly, the exact opposite of the glamorous spectacle it was meant to be.