Bio: I cover the Brooklyn Nets, the St. John's Red Storm men's basketball team, and the Brooklyn Cyclones. I support the Fort Hamilton Tigers football team, a 3-time city champion. I am a graduate of Fort Hamilton High School (2003) and Brooklyn College (2008).
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By Jason Schott – BrooklynFans.com Reporter / Assignment Editor - @JESchott19
Kevin Garnett spoke at Nets Media Day on Friday on a varety of topics, such as retirement, new Head Coach Lionel Hollins, the deaprture of Jason Kidd, the return of Brook Lopez, and his playing time.
On if he thought about retiring, Garnett said, “It’s always so hard especially when you come up short of your goal for the year. I must admit, these last few years I’ve thought about life where basketball is as a priority. In the back of your mind, you think about it. The decision is a yes or no, it’s not like 50/50, middle ground or gray area. I’m the kind of person you commit to something, you commit to it, it’s that simple.”
On former Nets Head Coach Jason Kidd’s departure, Garnett said, “The only thing I’m going to say about the Jason Kidd situation is that I enjoyed Jason while he was here, thought he had a great understanding of the communication. I don’t know what the hell was going on like everybody else. So, I don’t really have a comment, it was unfortunate because I have seen the two (sides), you know, whether you want to or not, Jason’s part of this history, did a lot of good things for this organization. I hope it doesn’t get overshadowed with the current situation between the two. It was unfortunate, but I hope that he’s in a better place, hope he’s happy, obviously he made the decision for whatever he felt was best for himself and his family, and I wish him all the best.”
On his longtime teammate Paul Pierce leaving Brooklyn for the Washington Wizards, KG said, “Paul, actually, I was with him around that announcement. It was unfortunate, but still fortunate that Paul is in a great situation for him and his family, wish him nothing but the best, you know, it’s bittersweet.”
On the Nets, KG said, “The biggest strengths of us going into this season is the fact that we have pretty much the core here, Deron, Brook and Joe, obviously they’ve added some pieces. But if we’re gonna win anything, it’s gonna be those three guys and everyone else is gonna fill in and carry out their goals.”
On his motivation for coming back, such as winning another title, “That’s what we’re playing for, right? No one’s suiting up to come in second. I don’t think guys are coming in here to do anything less than. Part of that is probably something else, but the mindset has to be championship or nothing.”
On his impressions of new Nets Head Coach Lionel Hollins, “He’s old school, right off the top, old school, my kind of guy, not that Jason (Kidd) wasn’t. The first thing I noticed is he has a presence and he spoke very candidly about his views and how he saw this team and how he saw us being in the future. He had a plan. Assistant coaches are great guys, got to meet everybody, look forward to working with everybody.”
Garnett said of how much he is looking forward to playing with Brook Lopez again, “I’m looking forward to being back here with everybody, man. I’m glad Brook’s healthy, glad he’s back doing what he loves. Health is a weird thing. Obviously, when you get older, you have to take care of your body and all this stuff, but when you’re younger, man, you want to be able to run and all these things you want to do, and I’m just glad that he’s able to be young again and hope he can stay healthy for…at least parts of the year that we need him. If we’re gonna be anything, it’s because of Brook Lopez, Deron Williams, and Joe Johnson.”
On if this is his last year in the NBA, Garnett said, “I don’t like to use that, I like to come in each year and assess it. I have always said that at the age whenever I am not feeling basketball again, which is absurd, or when I don’t have the motivation to come in here, it’s time to move on, but that’s not the case, I’m very much motivated, looking to have a better year than last year and enjoy this year.”
On if he is motivated to show he can still play at a high level after a tough 2013-14 season, Garnett said, “I don’t need to show people anything, that’s first off. Secondly, for myself, last year, I think everybody on the team sacrificed, it takes a game, give a little bit for the betterment of the club, and I did just that. From what I have heard of this system, it might fit me a little better because it’s a little parallel to what we did in Boston.
“Granted, my situation with Jason (Kidd) and the system last year is what it was, and I had to make adjustments to it when I had to. I don’t really see myself as primary and that’s just reality. But, I still can give, I still have something to give to this game and to this team and my mindset is always to be better than I was last year, or to be better than I was yesterday and I’m not going to change that.”
On if he has reflected on last season and how he was not the player he was in Boston, Garnett said, “You have to understand that chemistry is one thing that I think is underrated in this game. I’m not a primary guy here, I understood that coming here, I wasn’t trying to be who I was in Boston. Totally different situation, totally different option, totally different circumstance, I’m just looking to have a better year, to enjoy the year. Last year, I was dealing with a bunch of stuff I never had to encounter. So, this year I’m just looking forward to enjoying the year, make it a memorable one, and be better.”
Last season, there was a lot of contention between Garnett and Kidd over a minutes limit imposed by Kidd. It seemed to me that the minutes limitwas rigid, in the sense that he was out there for a set amount of minutes and not the tenor of the game or how he was playing. On if he would like more input into how he is played this season, Garnett said in a deadpan matter, “Whatever the Coach tells me to do, that’s what I plan on doing.”
By Jason Schott – BrooklynFans.com Reporter / Assignment Editor - @JESchott19
The Islanders beat the Devils 3-2 in an overtime shootout on Friday night at Barclays Center in a preseason game, the second straight year the two teams have done so in promotion of the Islanders’ move to Brooklyn for the 2015-16 season.
The attendance for the game this year was a disappointing 11,823 and there were vast stretches of empty seats throughout the arena. Part of it could be that last year’s game was a rather dull affair won by the Devils 3-0.
Another part of it and a major problem with hockey at Barclays Center is the way the ice surface is not centered within the arena. In one end, where the visiting teams come out for Nets games, they do not remove one seat, yet in the end with the Geico Atrium, they remove every seat. Last year, the Atrium end was covered by black tarps, and they improved how that end looked by adding five rows of bleachers. It still did not look that aesthetically pleasing and they might have to consider some reconstruction of the Geico Atrium end, which also has the 40/40 club, to make it better.
Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano said of the win, “It’s nice to score a goal, never heard the horn go off, didn’t know what it was gonna be like. It’s preseason obviously, but nice to come in here and get a win, no question, but more importantly, it was a step in the right direction for some of our young guys.”
On if Barclays Center is starting to feel like home to the Islanders, “It’s a great venue, there is no question it’s a beautiful place. I’m extremely happy for Charles (Wang) and ownership that they were able to do what they had to do. They didn’t get the outcome they wanted in Nassau County, but we know we’re gonna be here at a certain point. It was good to come in preseason and now we have to focus on the (Nassau) Coliseum and our fans there.”
The Islanders came out strong in the game on Friday night, as Ryan Pulock scored 8:21 in. They kept the pressure on, and just a few minutes later caught a break.
Devils goaltender Keith Kinkaid could not control a puck, weakly trying to pass it to his two defenseman who were near. The result was that the puck slid off Kinkaid’s stick to the Islanders’ Colin McDonald, who shot the puck into a virtually empty net to give the Islanders a 2-0 lead with 8:28 left in the first.
Devils Head Coach Peter DeBoer was asked how weird that was to see considering all the years they had Martin Brodeur, who handled the puck brilliantly, and he said, “You never saw that too often with Marty, we were spoiled for a long time here. With Kinkaid, I liked his response to it. Everyone’s going to make mistakes, it’s how you respond to it, and he responded the right way, he played a very good game after that.”
The Devils took control in the second period, and started to put some pressure on the Islander net after a meager five-shot effort in the first. Martin Havlat scored on the power play 8:08 into the second to cut the Islanders’ lead to 2-1.
The Devils were once again on the power play early in the third period when Michael Ryder scored 1:51 into the third to tie it at 2.
Both teams did not take many risks the rest of the way, which resulted in a tedious third period that saw a good part of the crowd depart. Those that remained were the enthusiastic fans that hockey is known for, and they saw the Islanders win the shootout on a goal by Brock Nelson.
Capuano said of the ice conditions at Barclays Center, “Everybody started, everybody wanted to talk about the ice conditions, I thought it was a fast-paced game, it’s like anything else, second period got a little chippy, but for the most part, I thought the ice was fine.”
Capuano said of the game, “There’s some things we have to work on. The momentum shifted when we took the penalties. I liked the way they shifted the puck, I like the way their forwards were in constant motion, they put a lot of pressure on us to defend. We started off that way and we weren’t consistent enough on that in the game. Penalty kill is something we have to keep working on.”
By Jason Schott – BrooklynFans.com Reporter / Assignment Editor - @JESchott19
The Nets offseason was a tumultuous one, marked by the unexpected departure of Head Coach Jason Kidd and the hiring of Lionel Hollins to replace him.
King’ first move was to acquire the draft rights to guard Markel Brown, who was chosen by the Minnesota Timberwolves with the 44th pick.
At the end of the night, King acquired the last two players drafted. With the 59th pick, guard Xavier Thames was drafted by the Toronto Raptors, and forward Cory Jefferson was chosen by the Philadelphia 76ers.
June 28th: Nets will soon be all in on Brooklyn
On Thursday, the Brooklyn Nets announced that they will be opening the Hospital for Special Surgery Training Center in the Sunset Park neighborhood of their home borough. The Nets will be settled in for the 2015-16 season.
Brooklyn Nets General Manager Billy King said of the move, “The first day I came here I realized that this was something that will help us get players to come here as free agents because being in Brooklyn and having this view (of the New York harbor). No other city will have a place like this. For me and the organization, I think it’s great. I would like to leave on this note, that this is the only pro basketball team that will play and practice and a borough of New York City.”
The privately-funded training center will be located on 39th Street and 2nd Avenue in the Industry City part of Sunset Park. The Nets will occupy 70,000 square feet on the eighth floor and rooftop of a historic warehouse building on the waterfront.
The Hospital for Special Surgery Training Center will have world-class amenities, including two full basketball courts, a weight room, a training pool, and two hydro pools, a rooftop entertainment space, an 18-seat multimedia center, 3,000 square feet of hospitality/players’ lounge space, and a media interview/workroom.
This was significant because it would be Jason Kidd’s last appearance as Head Coach. Kidd was asked whether players, maybe even him, would consider living in Brooklyn, and he said, “Yeah, there’s always opportunity to live in Brooklyn. I think it’s one of the biggest cities, but it’s also a nice city, so it gives a lot, great restaurants. I think you’ll see a lot of our guys that play for Brooklyn live in Brooklyn very soon.”
June 28th: Is Kidd on His Way Out?
In what may be the most stunning turn of the offseason, the Brooklyn Nets have allowed Head Coach Jason Kidd to meet with the Milwaukee Bucks. When a team allows their coach to speak with another team, it shows they are prepared to move on without him.
According to reports, a league source said that Kidd recently approached ownership with a series of demands. That included adding the role of overseeing the Nets’ basketball operations department to his head coaching duties.
Kidd would have been placed higher in the organizational hierarchy than General Manager Billy King. Interestingly, Kidd did not want King to be dismissed. Wonder if King felt it was betrayal, considering King took quite a leap a year ago to hire Kidd as coach when nobody else would have.
July 1st: Kidd’s Brief Tenure in Brooklyn Ends in a Flash
The Nets officially traded the coaching rights to Jason Kidd to Milwaukee on Monday and received two second round picks in 2015 and 2019.
This all happened in a 36-hour period with a report on Saturday night that said Kidd asked the Nets for greater control of the team, to become head of basketball operations, and the Nets said no. Kidd basically wanted more power than General Manager Billy King, and the ownership was wise enough to see what he was trying to do. It shows that Kidd always hates anyone above him in the line of authority: when he played, he hated coaches; now as a coach, he hates general managers.
The Nets granted him permission to speak to the Bucks, and by 11:00 a.m. on Monday, he was the Bucks Head Coach.
His last public appearance as Nets Head Coach was on Thursday when the team announced that they will open the Hospital for Special Surgery Training Center in Sunset Park, Brooklyn in 2015. Looking back on the morning, Kidd and General Manager Billy King kept their distance, as they were on either sides of the stage and in group pictures.
The Nets were right to let Kidd go, as they could give into his power play. His year as coach was, all things considered, a success, but that did not entitle him to full control over the franchise. Owner Mikhail Prokhorov likes General Manager Billy King a lot, and respects the job he has done getting them into the playoffs and close to a contender.
Kidd was looking for a deal like Doc Rivers has with the Clippers, Stan Van Gundy in Detroit, Flip Saunders in Minnesota, and Gregg Popovich in San Antonio. There’s a big difference between those coaches and Kidd: they have earned it from winning year after year and earning the respect that comes with making personnel decisions.
Kidd received a 4-year, $10.5 million contract from the Nets a year ago. They should have offered him a fresh contract along the lines of what Steve Kerr got in Golden State and Derek Fisher got with the Knicks, as each received five years and $25 million. In fairness to Kidd, he earned it with the job he did last season.
July 3rd: Nets Turn to Hollins
The Brooklyn Nets named Lionel Hollins as their new Head Coach on Wednesday. General Manager Billy King knew who he wanted in the wake of the Jason Kidd fiasco, as Hollins was the only candidate he interviewed for the job. King turned a tough situation into something that the franchise can be proud of, as they brought in one of the best coaches in the sport, and a gentleman of the game.
King said, “We are very excited to welcome Lionel as the new head coach of the Brooklyn Nets. He is a proven winner who will provide the franchise with stability and leadership going forward.”
Hollins said, ““I want to thank the Nets ownership and Billy for this opportunity. It has been a long process to get back into the league, and I believe that Billy and I will have a very successful working relationship. Brooklyn has firmly established itself as a franchise that is committed to winning, and I eagerly look forward to becoming part of that culture and building on the success of the past two playoff appearances.”
Hollins becomes the 19th Head Coach in Nets history, and his deal will reportedly be for 4 years at $20 million, or $5 million per year, along the lines of what Steve Kerr got from the Warriors and Derek Fisher got from the Knicks. The difference is that Hollins brings a wealth of experience to the job, whereas Kerr and Fisher will be entering their first year as coaches.
Hollins had great success with the Memphis Grizzlies, leading the team to a franchise-record 56 wins and took them the Western Conference Finals in the 2012-13 season, which would be his last. The only reason Memphis let him got was they felt they could not afford him after the 2012-13 season. He did not coach last season.
Bud said that he had no problem that the Mets are in the lowest third of MLB teams in terms of payroll with 2014 salary expense estimated to be $84 million. Why should he be perturbed? As the owners’ chief executive he would be thrilled if all clubs significantly reduced payroll. Having a team situated in the nation’s largest media market acting parsimoniously makes other team owners take notice. Even the once free-spending New York Yankees are trying to keep things in budget (albeit with a dollar figure more than twice what their counterparts in Queens are spending). The Mets’ fiscal thriftiness has to have had an effect on Yankees executives.
I think that it’s a safe statement to write that it was Bud Selig who insisted that the Mets make Sandy Alderson their general manager after they fired Omar Minaya four years ago. There are some who believe that Selig would have forced the Wilpons to sell the Mets the way he twisted the arm of former Dodgers owner, the financially troubled Frank McCourt, had he not installed Alderson as the team’s GM. Mets fans have to be envious of their LA counterparts.
The Mets and the pharmaceutical giant, AstraZeneca, held a Cholesterol Awareness Night in front of Citi Field last Monday. Long lines of people took advantage of the chance to learn what their HDH and HDL counts were free of charge by having nurses take a small blood sample.
AstraZeneca hired Mets legend Ed Kranepool to autograph photos and chat with fans as they checked in. “Just because you were once a professional athlete doesn’t mean that you are immune from the health issues that affect your age group,” he told me.
Actor John Leguizamo, who grew up in Jackson Heights, was one of the celebrities born between 1946 and 1964 who was profiled in the AARP -financed “The Boomer List” which was the latest installment of PBS’s “American Masters” series. It debuted on Tuesday.
Leguizamo reminisced about growing up in Queens in the documentary. He was present at the Paley Center Thursday night for its premiere where we discussed his favorite baseball team, the Mets. “Do you think that they’ll ever win again?” he asked out of frustration.
He felt that Shea Stadium got an undeserved bum rap. “Citi Field is beautiful but I miss seeing the Whitestone Bridge and the old Serval Zippers sign from Shea.”
It’s great when professional sports teams and leagues recognize the efforts of disabled athletes. Last week the Mets once again hosted the Major League Baseball Wheelchair Softball Tournament that featured teams supported by the Red Sox, Cubs, Yankees, and of course, the Mets. Former Mets Mookie Wilson and John Franco came out to lend support.
The Knicks also have long championed physically challenged basketball players. The Roller Knicks, a team of wheelchair hoops players, have shown off their considerable skills during many halftimes at Madison Square Garden.
Premium cable television network Epix has quietly picked up the void in producing sports documentaries now that it’s clear that HBO Sports has stopped making them in spite of all of the Emmy Awards that they garnered for them. Epix went to the best, former HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg, to produce “Forgotten Four,” a one-hour documentary about Kenny Washington, Woody Strode, Marion Motley, and Bill Willis, who integrated the NFL in 1946.
As the title indicates, this talented and brave quartet of football players has never gotten the due that Jackie Robinson did for integrating Major League Baseball. Ironically Kenny Washington and Jackie Robinson were teammates on the UCLA Bruins football team.
There are understandable reasons for their comparative obscurity. The National Football League in the mid 1940s was an afterthought in the minds of most sports fans as Major League Baseball truly was our national pastime. It is always a lot easier to focus on the accomplishments of one individual than that of a group.
The New York Jets sponsored the premiere of “Forgotten Four” at the Times Center last Wednesday night as such past Gang Green players as Tony Richardson, Emerson Boozer, Bobby Jackson, and Richard Caster were on hand as well as was team owner Woody Johnson who introduced the documentary to the audience. One of the greatest receivers in Giants history, Amani Toomer, was on hand as well.
The Giants, in spite of looking rather inept in the first half, easily handled the Houston Texans last Sunday for their first victory of the year. Before Big Blue fans get too excited however they should keep in mind that Texans QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, Harvard’s gift to the NFL, is arguably the worst starting quarterback in the league. They should also be thankful that Arian Foster, one of the NFL’s best running backs, had to miss the game because of a leg injury.
Even though it was their opening game of the season, the Columbia Lions, under the aegis of head coach Peter Mangurian, the Vince Lombardi of losing, were in mid-season form as they not surprisingly lost to the Fordham Rams, 49-7. The stingy Lions offense held the Rams to under 50 points while their potent offense made sure that they weren’t shut out on a beautiful Saturday afternoon at Kraft Stadium. Despite losing by 42 points they probably covered any Las Vegas point spread on the game.
Newsday baseball columnist and their one-time Mets beat writer, David Lennon, who most of us thought was a confirmed bachelor, married nephrologist and Flushing native Dr. Miriam Chung Friday night at the Central Park Boathouse. Dave, who grew up in the Boston area, told me that his wife is a Yankees fan in spite of growing up in the shadow of Shea Stadium. Hopefully love will conquer all. Congratulations to the happy couple!
Sheila Johnson, the CEO of the WNBA’s Washington Mystics, angrily pointed out that only 1.6% of televised sports is devoted to female athletes at the second annual Sports Business Journal’s Game Changers conference last week that spotlighted female sports executives. She also lambasted Sports Illustrated for both its swimsuit issue and for highlighting only female athletes who are physically very attractive.
Outfielder Brandon Nimmo, who was the Mets first-round pick in the 2011 amateur draft, was a recipient last week of a Sterling Award that recognizes excellence in the Mets’ minor league system. Last year he was a member of the Savannah team that won the Southern League championship and this year he was part of the Binghamton Mets that won the Eastern League title. I guess that it’s safe to say that where Brandon Nimmo goes, champagne flows! He will probably play most of the 2015 season for the Mets’ top minor league team, the Las Vegas 51s.
The New York Islanders will test out the Barclays Center for the second time in their history when they once again play the New Jersey Devils Friday night in an NHL preseason game. The Devils were also their opponent in the first game in Brooklyn that took place roughly a year ago . The Islanders will be leaving the Nassau Coliseum for the Barclays Center permanently beginning Fall 2015.
Astoria Restaurant Week is underway and will run through September 28. As a way of bringing media awareness to Astoria’s ever-growing dining industry, the Queens Chamber of Commerce held a sampling of dishes from a number of the community’s best restaurants that was simply called “Eat In Astoria” at the Astoria Bank last Thursday night. It was similar to the annual Taste of Queens event that the Queens Economic Development Corporation organizes every spring. It would be terrific if other Queens neighborhoods would host this kind of event.
Here are some additions to my Bachelor Pad/ Dorm Life 101 article that was posted last week.
A website, LinenMe.com, is a great resource for purchasing pillow cases, duvets, bed sheets, and even kitchen and bathroom linens.
Arm & Hammer Baking Soda is getting a high tech competitor for your refrigerator. BerryBreeze is a gadget that requires four “D” batteries that unleashes oxygen ions to keep food fresh and reduces unpleasant odors.
If you want an alternative to eating out, a website called Kitchensurfing.com will send a chef to your abode to prepare gourmet meals for that special occasion such as a romantic dinner or one where you are entertaining work colleagues.
By Jason Schott – BrooklytnFans.com Reporter / Assignment Editor – @JESchott19
NYC FC’s Frank Lampard is currently on loan with Manchester City until January, and the team has indicated they might like to keep him around longer than that.
Manchester City Manager Manuel Pellegrini said at a news conference on Tuesday, “Frank will stay until January because until January he doesn’t have anything to do in the United States because they are not working. In January, we will see what happens here and make a decision.”
Lampard, a central midfielder, is Chelsea’s all-time leading goalscorer and he left Chelsea this past offseason for New York City FC, which is jointly owned by Manchester City and the New York Yankees. In late July, it was revealed that NYC FC would loan Lampard to Manchester City so he would be in shape for the MLS season in March. They essentially conducted the loan themselves, as Lampard was never put out on the market like a free agent would be in baseball. If he were, there might have been interest from some other English Premier League teams like Manchester United and Arsenal, whose coach Arsene Wenger thought there was something fishy about how the loan was conducted.
Lampard had a big game-tying goal on Sunday against Chelsea that gave ManCity a 1-1 draw in a game which they were short-handed for the final 20 minutes. Though the game was at ManCity, there was a nice contingent of Chelsea fans that applauded Lampard when he entered the game and Lampard, out of respect for his former team, did not celebrate his goal. Chelsea fans also have him a nice ovation after the game.
With this news today, it seems to me that Manchester City will probably extend his contract until the end of the English Premier League and Champions League seasons in May. After his goal Sunday, I’m sure Pellegrini would not like to lose him.
It is now obvious that Lampard was signed by NYC FC for two reasons: 1) for publicity, to get people excited for the team’s debut at Yankee Stadium in March 2015, and 2) as a backhanded way to bring him to Manchester City because Lampard might not have directly left Chelsea for ManCity, a bitter English rival.
Manchester City is treating NYC FC as the equivalent of a Triple-A team in baseball, where as long as you have players under contract for one of the teams, you can freely move them from one to the other.
This might start a ripple effect in which the MLS could turn into a minor league in England. There are a lot of American owners of English teams who could copy Manchester City’s model. Liverpool FC is owned by John Henry and Tom Werner, who also own the Boston Red Sox – what would stop them from buying the New England Revolution? Arsenal is owned by Stan Kroenke, who owns the Colorado Avalanche in the NHL, the Denver Nuggets in the NBA, and the Colorado Rapids of the MLS. Perhaps Kroenke feels cheated that he has owned an English team and an MLS team, and never thought of the ruse that Manchester City pulled with Lampard. Manchester United is owned by the Glazer family that owns the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and is a publicly-traded stock on the NYSE. There is no reason they couldn’t buy an MLS team like DC United, which would be a natural.
By Jason Schott – BrooklynFans.com Reporter / Assignment Editor - @JESchott19
Former Nets center Andray Blatche has signed a contract in China worth $2.5 million, which he can opt out of in March to return to the NBA.
The Nets made no attempt to re-sign Blatche, which is mysterious considering he was arguably their most reliable center the past couple seasons. The Nets had salary cap room to sign Blatche because teams can go over the limit to retain their own players. He’s eligible for a mid-level contract exception, which means if they don’t want him, they could sign and trade him for a player with a $5-6 million contract.
Blatche wants a long-term deal, and the Nets might be leery of giving him a contract considering issues he has had throughout his career. The Nets took a chance on Blatche before the 2012-13 season after the Wizards released him because of his bad attitude and other off-court issues. In his first season with the Nets, he was questioned for an incident at his hotel room in Philadelphia involving a woman and his friends.
This past season, he missed four games at the end of December for what the team called “personal reasons,” which later was revealed to mean that he was out of shape. Aside from those two incidents with the Nets, he has been the model teammate.
Blatche can be a prolific scorer and a solid presence inside. He was at his best when playing at forward with Brook Lopez at center, but head coaches Avery Johnson, P.J. Carlesimo or Jason Kidd never used him much in that role. He also was a solid anchor of the second unit.
Blatche, 28 years old, averaged 11.2 points and 5.3 rebounds last season, and scored in double figures 44 times. In the playoffs, he averaged 7.1 points and 5.3 rebounds in the opening series against the Toronto Raptors, and 5.4 points and 4.6 rebounds in the second round against the Miami Heat.
As it stands now at center for the Nets, Brook Lopez will be the starter and Mason Plumlee will take Blatche’s spot off the bench. Kevin Garnett was named the starting power forward by Head Coach Lionel Hollins, but he might want to consider Garnett as the starting or backup center because he played his best basketball last season at there in place of Lopez.
By Jason Schott – BrooklynFans.com Reporter / Assignment Editor - @JESchott19
Fantastic Four is a tremendous film from renowned producer Ross Greenburg about the integration of the NFL in 1946 by Kenny Washington, Woody Strode, Marion Motley and Bill Willis.
The documentary gives a detailed history of football starting in the 1920s on the college and pro levels and a stark look at race relations in the country at that time. The four players went through a lot of adversity, but their experiences were quite different. Motley and Willis were treated very well by the Cleveland Browns and their coach Paul Brown, whereas Washington and Strode went through a lot of adversity with the Los Angeles Rams.
At a screening of “Forgotten Four,” Jets radio announcer Bob Wischusen moderated a panel with Greenburg, former Jets Wesley Walker and Greg Buttle, and USA Today sports columnist Jarrett Bell, who is one of the commentators in the documentary.
Ross Greenburg said, “Wes (Smith) and I met probably about eight months ago and we started talking about this story about the integration of pro football, and Wes and I started talking, and Wes said, “And by the way, Marion Motley. Bill Willis, Kenny Washington, and Willie Strode integrated pro football in 1946, and I said, ‘Whow, wait, ’46, that’s a year before Jackie Robinson.’ He said, ‘yeah, I guess it is.’ There’s our story, let’s go right for the jugular and tell the story of these great courageous guys, and that’s what we did.”
Wischusen said that “Jackie Robinson was poignantly aware what the meaning of his career was and the significance of being the lone guy breaking the color barrier (in baseball),” and he asked Greenburg and Jarrett Bell if that was true for Motley, Willis, Washington, and Strode.
Bell said, “Yeah, I think so, I got to know Bill Willis, who was the last of the four to pass away, and I got to know him for probably the last four, maybe five years of his life, and we got to talk about these things. One thing that was interesting was the crossover of baseball and football, he knew Jackie Robinson, Jackie Robinson knew him, they knew each other because there was a lot of pride in the black community so, consequently, just like when the Cleveland Browns would play, or when the Rams would travel, they would attract black audiences, black fans would come to those games and so they were aware there was some significance there.
“I don’t think they tried to carry that as the ultimate badge because Willis and Motley ended up being Hall of Famers who played many years with the Browns, so I think their thing was really just to be good players, but I think they were aware of that circumstance at least from what I’ve been able to find out about them. Then, just to add, with Washington, remember he played for six years on the West Coast with the Hollywood Bears same sort of thing, even those years in semi-pro football, they drew a lot of fans, a lot of black fans.”
Greenburg said, “When we started to meet the families, they were mystified that, for all these years, nobody had really recognized their family, the four men. I think, you know, it was wonderful to bring them into the fold and we felt strongly about it, it was important to allow them to finally get their just due and give it to their fathers and grandfathers.”
Wesley Walker, who played college football at California-Berkeley, said of his thoughts and experiences, “It’s very difficult when you see racism. I went to Cal-Berkeley, where I was sort of a black hippie, I didn’t see color. Growing up, you hear about Jackie Robinson, Jesse Owens, I remember finally hearing the stories, when you see the true-life problems that existed and to a certain extent that still exist in this country, I never understood racism, prejudice just because you were maybe different, the color of your skin and you know you had maybe the same abilities, you’re a human being, that’s all I ever looked at.
“When you look at a situation like this and know some of the things those guys had to endure, I think of myself being in that situation, ‘could I really handle a situation like that?’ That’s what Jackie Robinson did, that’s what Marion Motley went through. I don’t know if I could have handled that, that’s a lot to carry a burden, and what I get from this film is a sense of history and a story that needs to be told, and you (Greenburg) do just a wonderful job. More of these stories need to be told, just what people have been through and where we’ve come to now.”
Walker said of perceptions in football, “I remember, back in the day, blacks couldn’t be quarterbacks, you played linebacker, that’s your position because those were so-called smart positions mentally and we see it now. I was telling this story, one of my teammates, Marty Lions had pointed out, did a grand opening last year and they had was a big Jets cake, and he said to me, ‘look at the cake, they’re all black players,’ and I said, ‘yeah, you didn’t say that when we were growing up because they were all white players’ and that’s something that I wouldn’t even think about, but there’s a big disparity in that time and now, but we’ve progressed and we’re getting better. I compliment you (Greenburg) on the ability to tell this story that people need to know some of the things that people have through and struggled to make things better for those now participating in this sport.”
Former Jet Greg Buttle said, “My perspective obviously is from a white perspective. I grew up in the ’60s, and it was unbelievable change what happened from when I was in high school and then going forward to Penn State. When I started to watch this, it reminded me there’s two movies I’ve seen that it was a feeling of disgust when I watched it. That was Saving Private Ryan, when you watch those soldiers getting slaughtered coming off the LSDs in the D-Day landing, your stomach turns, I got the same feeling when I watch this.
“To be able to go out there and see what our black friends went through, and maybe not so many here, but back from the ’60s and the ’50s, part of my era, you look at that and you go ‘that is so, so wrong and so uncomfortable’ and you look at the way we’re progressing today with everything, and certainly there are going to be differences forever, I don’t care who you are, there’ll be differences, but I think this was so good in the way it depicted the truth of what we are, whether we’re black or we’re white, it depicts what we are. We may not like what we are…It gives you an opportunity to have introspection and you take a look at your life and say ‘can I do this better, can I be a better person?’ and I think that’s what I got out of this, it’s unbelievable.”
Greenburg said of some choice of imagery he used, “We did want to show the stark photographs of the lynchings because I think a lot of times in films or docus, you see the lone black trying to drink from the colored water fountain or going into the colored bathroom, but you don’t really see the stark racism that these people dealt with, so it was important to us to bang that home and to give you the reality of what it was like because a lot of times I think in the present day, and there still is racism, let’s not kid ourselves, we don’t know where we are today if we don’t know where we have come from, what was the ground zero. Well, that was surely post-Civil War and slavery itself was ground zero, and that was important to show and it gave you an idea of the time period and what these four men had to deal with in society.”
“FORGOTTEN FOUR” airs this Tuesday, September 23rd, at 8:00 pm on EPIX