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I make bad decisions. Not the truly crippling ones like trying heroin or leaving my wife and child for a stranger who smiled at me on the train, but the kind of self defeating ones. I have a responsibility. For the remainder of the Nets season, what could now be as brief as two more games, I owe it to you the reader to really consume the games and present something that you can slowly digest, as you sit on the toilet after having digested something else of greater value. I should remain relatively sober, locked away in the sanctity of my living room, so that I can experience the action. Or I should buy a ticket, go to the game sober, and give you a real boots on the ground account. But I did neither of these things. I called a friend, because I wanted to be at least adjacent to the action. We met in my old neighborhood at King’s Hall, a mere two minute walk from the arena, so that we could get the cheap tailingating version of the energy that surrounded the arena moments before it hosted a playoff game for the first time in four years. And yes, it really has been only four years. For whatever reason it feels like it should have been 12, but nope, they were there, losing in a six game first round series to the Atlanta Hawks. What? You don’t remember the classic Atlanta Hawks/Brooklyn Nets first round battle? The year before that they took down the Raptors, back when Toronto was trying out their moronic “We The North” slogan. Nobody cares that you live in the north, Canada. You’re not the fucking free folk. You have socialized healthcare. We’re the psychopaths, you Ned Flanders motherfuckers. Looking back, I’m shocked they didn’t go with “We Da North.”
But I digress.
My long and rambling point is that I wanted to be out and about. Of course this meant that I was out and about at 6, and after consuming various sundries, my recollection leaves something to be desired. Pregame, I do remember the place being about 75% full, which isn’t bad considering it’s an over sized space that wishes it were a proper Bavarian Beer Hall (It isn’t). There was a growing energy, but the Brooklyn Nets are still very much in their culture. The life sustaining bandwagoners are still a year away, though they’ll be out in full force next year if the Knicks don’t have the off season they’re banking on. Mostly, the fans just seemed confused, with no real chant to rally around besides slowly droning the name of their favorite porn star, Brooke Lynn. I’m not sure how they settled on that one, but who saw the Steinbrenners rallying around the anonymous gay hookup positive anthem YMCA? There aren’t a ton of boisterous loudmouths yet. These are still the nebbish Brooklyners who always look as if they will need to explain their fandom, even in the company of other Nets fans. Here’s a fun fact: Most Net fans don’t know any other Net fans. I know I don’t. My friend is definitely not a basketball fan, much less a Nets fan. I could make friends with these people. Some of them might live in Bay Ridge. We could be lifelong friends who don’t see everything eye to eye, but always have the Nets. But I don’t. I don’t want to make friends. Hell, who knows if I even want to follow the Nets when they are on the inevitable downslide of whatever wild ride they’re on this season? Maybe the Nets suck in 5 years. Do I want to root for a team that sucks? We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it, but I’m not making any promises right now.
The Nets didn’t win. There wasn’t much of a fight. This was a bit of a letdown, after noted asshole Joel Embiid laughed while apologizing for elbowing Jarrett Allen in the goddamn mouth. Laughing apologizes are not the most tactful apologies, and several Net players let the media know that they don’t care for Embiid. Former Net Richard Jefferson said he hoped that they would retaliate. I was primed, and I know the arena was set to boo Embiid into the stone age. And then Joel Embiid didn’t play. He sat out with a sore knee. I wasn’t in the arena. I was in a bar wondering why he was in fucking street clothes. But I get the feeling that they sucked the energy out of the building by not giving them somebody to vent. In a strange way, I think the Nets had a better chance at winning if Joel Embiid had suited up. Even if he is the best player on their team and make them a much harder out. A win would have been nice, but Ben Simmons showed up for the second game in a row and JJ Reddick was hitting, and the Nets hovered somewhere between 7-10 points behind for most of the 4th quarter.
I would have enjoyed a win. a 2-1 lead is a much closer series than a 2-1 deficit, and I wouldn’t have to hear about how their season is over from my coworkers.
“If they don’t win game three, is that it for them?”
“No, dude. It’s a seven game series. Teams have come back from 2-1 deficits before, homey.”
Always with the fucking preemptive narratives. Still, they do now have to go 3 for 4 against a better Philadelphia squad. It could happen. I’m not holding my breath for it. And frankly, I wouldn’t mind being able to get pie eyed without wondering about how I’m going to generate content the next day.
The Brooklyn Nets trail the Philadelphia 76ers 2-1 in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.