I was anxiously awaiting the Brooklyn Nets’ pick at No. 22 and hoped they would select a big man to provide depth on the bench, which they did in Mason Plumlee.
The team had a solid core that had just won 49 games, and now just needed a few more pieces to the puzzle to improve on what was ultimately a successful first year in the borough of Kings.
Earlier that day, I saw a report that the Nets were in talks with the Celtics about potentially trading for Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.
I said to myself, “No way is that going to happen!” Pierce AND Garnett? Keep dreaming Nets’ fans.
Well, now let’s fast-forward to Thursday afternoon, and that dream is a reality—with Jason Terry as an additional bonus.
It's a surreal feeling!
Just in case it still hasn’t quite sunk in, the Nets will feature a starting lineup that has a combined 35 All-Star appearances—not to mention an additional 10 from the coach, Jason Kidd.
From a fan’s perspective, this trade has completely revolutionized the franchise. It seems that everywhere I go in Brooklyn, someone is asking me my opinion on the Nets’ huge trade.
And I always respond the same way:
“I am counting the days until opening night!”
During the press conference and later interviews, the former Boston trio each commented that the Nets lacked the toughness and personality needed to win in this league. Garnett should solve that problem instantly, even though he claimed he does not talk as much trash as everyone thinks.
Pierce, meanwhile, at least says that he is willing to accept a limited role in order for the team to win. Joe Johnson established himself last season as the Nets’ clutch shooter late in games, but having another proven closer in Pierce is a nice luxury.
Another reason why one should believe that this can work is because Garnett, Pierce, and Terry have all sacrificed in the name of winning before. When Boston formed their "Big 3" featuring Garnett, Pierce, and Ray Allen, all three player sacrificed their personal accolades for the betterment of the team. Garnett willingly deferred to both Pierce and Allen on the offensive end and focused his energies on defense, eventually winning the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2008.
In the 2006-07 season, the year before the Celtics got Garnett and Allen, Pierce averaged 25 points per game on 18.1 shots per game. Since then? He has averaged 19.2 points on just 13.6 shots per game. He, too, has dedicated himself to the defensive end of the floor, and proved his mettle by winning the Bill Russell NBA FInal MVP Award in 2008.
And Terry, after being a starter for eight years in the league as a member of the Atlanta Hawks and Dallas Mavericks, he accepted a demotion to the bench from then-coach Avery Johnson. Terry responded by winning the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year Award in 2009 and helped lead the Mavericks to a stunning upset over the Miami Heat in the 2011 NBA Finals.
Garnett cited "sacrifice" as what ultimately separates teams that are able to win championships from those that have talented players, but ultimately do not.
At least Nets fans know that this triumvirate is capable of making great sacrifice. And if they can stay healthy, the sky is the limit.
As a realist, I am aware that this team may need some time to gel on the floor together before proclaiming itself as a championship contender that can stack up against the Miami Heat. And yes, giving up the haul of first round draft picks may haunt the franchise in the future. But Brooklyn wants to compete.
And thanks to this trade, they will.
Given that these players already seem to be going all in for another ring, it is tough to contain my excitement.
If championships were won on paper, the Nets could very well be erecting a glass case in the main entrance of Barclays Center to display the 2013-2014 Larry O’Brien Trophy.
But, of course, championships are not won on paper. They are won on wood.
That is why patience will be key for the new-look Brooklyn Nets. In addition to not winning a championship on paper, they will not be winning any championships after one game, one week or one month of action.
Championship aspirations aside, the Nets—if they can stay healthy and Kidd can properly manage minutes—will be an exciting team to watch next season. And if that is the case, Brooklyn will stand up.
Jim Mancari is a Contributor to SNYNets.com. Follow him on Twitter @JMMancari.