The 3rd String Point Guard
Hot Larry- Sadly, that’s the best witty line I could come up with regarding the unfortunate firing of Lawrence Frank. Anyway, my main gripe here is when all the losses simply aren’t a coach’s fault yet he’s let go. Eddie Jordan, a former Nets assistant and another passionate, intelligent coach, was fired last year with Arenas out for the year and Jamison and Butler alternating between who was out for weeks at a time. Asked to win with Darius Songalia and Brendan Haywood (oh wait, he went down eventually too), the odds were simply against him. Did he deserve to be fired? Maybe but only because you can’t fire players and because management was desperate to shake things up. I completely understand how firing a coach can be a shot in an arm for a team, wipe away old gripes, enliven what was once a lost season but then there’s the desperation heave. Counter-example: I was all for the Byron Scott firing. He had been mailing it in on a team that quit on him since midway last season and was clearly using his friendship with Paul for job security while mocking the team (re-scheduling plane departures for his tee times) Although they’re not destroying teams, they’re playing cohesively without Paul and with two rookies leading the way for some big wins. Bruce Bower’s a guy that will at least care about the team regardless of whether he’s coach or back to GM next season. I’m looking forward to a run with Paul back.
In Frank’s case, he was doomed from the start. It’s one thing to come into the season with the youngest team filled out with middling vets, it’s another to start it with three injuries to starters (Harris, Yi, Lee) and another come down with swine flu (Douglas-Roberts). The guy had friggin’ swine flu! CDR wasn’t the focal point of their offense but jesus, that’s quite possibly the worst luck ever to start a season. So in closing, the Nets management can go suck it. Your team isn’t getting any better with Frank gone, if anything, it’s worse because for all their ineptitude, this team knew it had a guy who committed himself tirelessly to his job even with the odds against him. The team liked him so much that they all fought for him when his job was at stake last season (even Vince Carter who’s not known for fighting for anything, like ever, at all… in his entire life). You didn’t fire the next Auerbach, still, you got rid of a guy with a backbone (with him gone, Thorn’s the only class left) in an organization that’s in such disaray, it could disappear into a black hole with no one noticing. I can only hope that Dec. 31st passes with Ratner not breaking ground, Prokhorov backing out of the sale and the team remaining in New Jersey for good, to continue sucking, yes, but at least settled for once. It could happen, 31 days to go! Good luck in the future Frank.
Artificial Incompetence- I’m not the biggest fan of AI but I am an apologist on his behalf, doing what he’s done in this league is a rare achievement yet in the time between his trade to Denver and again to Detroit, something changed. Maybe Denver wasn’t the right fit, maybe Detroit screwed him but he quickly became a shell of himself, unable to cope with the loss of his skills or a diminishing role anywhere, even in Memphis. Tragic it may be although it’s hard to feel sorry for a guy who won’t come off the bench.
For a brief shining moment, it seemed he was headed to the Knicks and then everything fell through because (gritting teeth, rolling eyes) we didn’t want his minutes taking away from the development of our young players. That’s all well and good but then don’t go against your statement and not even let your young guys play while the losses build up. Douglas and Hill have barely seen the court since the deal fell through and the Knicks haven’t won a game either. I debated with myself and other b-ball fans for awhile about AI with the Knicks. People that were originally against it eventually had to concede that it was better than what we currently had going. I go to MSG even in bad times but the rest of Knicks fans would have to start caring, even watching games just for the spectacle. So what we learned is that while Donnie’s gotten us out of the muck, he’s basically conceded the past two seasons (even backing out on a meager one-year contract in a no-loss deal for a Hall of Famer who might have actually gotten you out of the lottery) banking on free agency that might never happen. Barring anything major, if you’ve already conceded the season, start getting Douglas and Hill as much minutes as possible for the future but please don’t lie to your fans and then spit in their faces. And don’t get me started on the Jennings screw-up, come on Donnie!