Yesterday, inspired by The Artist Formerly Known as Snoop Dogg’s spiritual baptism and rebirth as The Artist Currently Known as Snoop Lion, I wrote about rebirths in the NBA. Today we tackle the same topic, but this time the outcome of his transformation is unclear.
For years Steve Nash has been one of the most liked NBA players. He led the league’s most exciting offensive attack, won two MVPs, and didn’t once complain or demand a trade even when it became clear that his Phoenix Suns had no chance of competing. Hell, he only went to the Lakers through a sign-and-trade that netted the Suns a couple of picks! He’s a cool, hip guy that lives in NYC during the summer where he hosts a charity soccer match, participates in funny videos and is an all around likable guy.
So…what the hell are we supposed to do now that he is on the damn Lakers? In general I loathe Angelenos more than people from any other geographic region, and occasional Diss writer Joe Bernardo not-withstanding, Laker fans are are pompous, self-serving idiots. Why so many people like Kobe Bryant is beyond me.
But Steve Nash? I like that guy, and so does everybody else. Will he now be booed on the road? Will he turn over to the dark side and take lessons from renowned cheap shot artist Andrew Bynum? Will my body involuntarily gag when Jack Nicholson leaps up to give him a hug? I hope he sure as hell knows how to process all of this, because I’m certainly having a difficult time.
No other team solidified its longterm like the Brooklyn Nets did this offseason. They signed Deron Williams, Gerald Wallace and Brook Lopez to longterm contracts, and traded for Joe Johnson. They even added Jerry Stackhouse, who is somehow, improbably, still in the league.
Even more stunning, however, are the changes happening on the business side. The team is moving into a brand new arena, in a new state, and have changed the name, logo and colors of the team. Reaction to the Nets new logo has been decidedly mixed, with many feeling that the whole reeks of corporate-ness and a marketing department. It seems like an odd criticism to me—of course the rebranding of a multi-hundred million dollar business is going to involve the marketing team—but others would have liked a more organic feeling transition to Brooklyn.
Which begs the question, how are fans reacting to these changes? Personally, I know a whopping total of one Nets fan (hey Mooney!) and he proclaims that while he and other fans enjoyed being something of an underdog “over there” in New Jersey, they will follow the team to Brooklyn and keep supporting it. Will the team gain a lot of fair-weather Knick fans, or perhaps convince the hipsters and Hasidic Jews in Williamsburg to follow them? We’re pretty sure that the Nets are going to decent on the court next year, but that’s about the only thing we’re sure of.
Howard’s actions over the last five months, flip-flopping more than, well, a pair of flip flops, has turned him into the runaway favorite for NBA Pariah of the Year. Fair or not, D12 is going to get mercilessly booed across the country this season. Remember, he barely played after the trade deadline last year due to injury, so he has yet to feel America’s wrath.
The last NBA pariah, LeBron James, was visibly bothered by his treatment at the hands of fans, and it took him an entire year to figure out how to transform it into a positive. Dwight Howard comes from the same post-rivalry culture as LeBron did, where all of the elite players are friends and having been playing with and against each other since grade school. He also has a fun-loving personality (witness the Superman persona) and jokes around a lot on the court.
Will it take him an entire year to embrace the booing and use it to fuel better performance, or will be crumble under the hate of a nation?