By Jason Schott – BrooklynFans.com Reporter / Assignment Editor - @JESchott19
Brook Lopez is the longest-tenured Net, having been with the team since 2008 when they played at the Meadowlands, through the nadir of going 12-70 in the 2009-10 season, their stop in Newark, and being built into an NBA contender in Brooklyn.
Lopez was there when the Brooklyn Nets were launched at the Modell’s across from Barclays Center on April 30, 2012.
On looking back at that, Lopez said, “That’s definitely one of the things I’ve been thinking about this summer, and looking even further back than 18 months ago to where I was when I was drafted in New Jersey. You know, for myself personally, there were so many unknowns going in, and then those next few seasons, uh (laughing), they’re crazy, to go from that point to where we are now, it’s exciting, and just hope the Nets continue to rise, and it all has to be done on the floor now.”
On Media Day, Lopez said of his excitement about this team, “It’s exciting, obviously just have to go in and put work in on the court and really gel and get to know each other in that regard. It’s really great to have so many good guys on and off the court that are all about the same thing, and really focus on being unselfish and achieving one goal.
Lopez looks forward to learning from all the new veterans on this team. “That is the most exciting thing for me personally and, selfishly, to have the guys who’ve won before, who have tons of experience in this league that I can learn from. Jet (Jason Terry), KG (Kevin Garnett), Truth (Paul Pierce), J-Kidd (Head Coach Jason Kidd), (Andrei) Kirilenko, I mean, just keep going down the list. There’s amazing names on this team who have done big things in this league, and I hope to be one of them too.”
One strength of the Nets will be their frontcourt. Lopez will be joined by Kevin Garnett, who will move to power forward after playing center for the Celtics the last couple of years. Paul Pierce will be the small forward in the starting lineup. Reggie Evans, who started at power forward, will move back to the second unit, reuniting with the re-signed backup center Andray Blatche, who had an impressive 2012-13 season.
On playing with Garnett, Lopez said, “I’m excited to play with KG, soak up everything from him, be like a sponge and just be around him.” On bringing back Blatche, Lopez said, “It’s huge. We were standing earlier doing our Media Day photos, I was standing next to, Blatche was not actually there, but Kirilenko, Joe (Johnson), Paul (Pierce), and KG, and you know, we have such a big team. It’s great, such a bunch of big, talented guys. It’s gonna be great to be able to throw Andray on the floor, Reggie on the floor, Kirilenko on the floor, KG on the floor and be able to trust each and every one of them. We have faith in a lot of players.”
One team the Nets will have to go through on their way to an NBA championship is the Miami Heat. Lopez could not remember the last time the Nets beat the Heat. It was a while ago, on Friday, March 20, 2009 by a score of 96-88.
On battling the Heat this season, Lopez said, “Obviously, they are the NBA champions right now, so they are the best team. To be the best, you have to beat the best, so when we go up against them, it will definitely be a good benchmark for us.”
When Lopez joined the Nets, Lawrence Frank was the head coach. He was fired early in the 2009-10 season when the team was 0-16. Tom Barrise took over for two games, and Kiki Vandeweghe finished coaching the team that season. Avery Johnson took over for the final two years in New Jersey, and was fired two months into last season. P.J. Carlesimo became the interim coach for the remainder of and did a fine job, guiding the Nets to 49 wins and the playoffs.
Jason Kidd will be the sixth coach that Lopez has had as he enters his sixth season with the Nets. One thing will have come full circle with this, as Lawrence Frank returns to the team as the lead assistant coach. On having Kidd taking over, Lopez said, “Obviously, you have to respect what he’s done in his career. He has had such a great and illustrious career. He holds a special place here with the Nets. He’s won at the highest level, and led teams and coached teams on the floor throughout his career, so it’s just a matter of, for him, changing wardrobe.”