Brooklyn Nets: Diving into what led the Nets to hire Steve Nash as new HC

Brooklyn Nets, Steve Nash

You can’t bring up the best point guards of all time and not mention the name, Steve Nash. His brilliant 18-year career in the NBA made him stand out as one of the fiercest competitors and greatest play-makers in the history of the game. Nash went from being an undersized backup point guard as a rookie on the Suns to a two-time MVP, 8-time NBA All-Star, and 7-time 1st team all-NBA. He most recently served as a player development consultant on the Golden State Warriors. Earlier today, Nash was named the 27th coach in the history of the Nets franchise and was signed to a 4-year contract (Full Nets Press Release HERE). Let’s dive into why the Nets made this hire and how they will fare moving forward with Nash at the helm.

MY REACTION TO THE NASH HIRE:

What made the Nets decide to go in this direction?

According to NetsDaily beat reporter Anthony “Pooch” Puccio, this decision was made way before the Orlando bubble even started.

If the Nets chose to hire Nash in May, did interim coach Jacque Vaughn ever have a fighting chance for this job? What would Vaughn have had to do in the bubble to win the job over Nash? While the Nets seem to value their former interim head coach enough to keep him on the staff as an assistant, clearly they felt Nash (even with no NBA head coaching experience) would be better suited to lead this superstar built team.

Let’s start by taking a look at Nash’s prior relationship with Kevin Durant. Nash was a player development consultant on the Golden State Warriors during Durant’s tenure in the Bay Area, and the two seemed to get along well during their time together. Check out this video of Nash and Durant practicing together, tweeted by NetsDaily reporter Matt Brooks:

Obviously, Durant and Kyrie would have to sign off on whichever coach Marks decided to choose. From an outside perspective, it appears that Durant was 100% on board with this hire. For Kyrie Irving, Nash is a coach that views the game through the same lens as he does. My assumption would be it didn’t take too much convincing for Kyrie to be buy into one of the greatest point guards of all time becoming his new head coach, especially since Kyrie still considers himself a student of the game.

The Nets star of the bubble, Caris LeVert, also had a positive experience with Nash when he trained with the former MVP and Kevin Durant in California four years ago. In a 2016 article written by Pooch, LeVert described his experience with Nash as “great” and was extremely happy about the trip. Fast forward three years later, KD is now his teammate (and was one of his biggest fans this year), and Steve Nash is now his head coach.

How will the Nets Fare with Nash at the Helm?

In today’s modern NBA, you don’t need a ton of head coaching experience to be a successful coach. Look at the last several coaches to win NBA championships: Steve Kerr, Tyronn Lue, Nick Nurse. All were first-time NBA head coaches. In Kerr’s case, similar to Nash, he didn’t even have experience as an assistant coach. What makes a great coach in today’s NBA is how he communicates and gets along with his players. Nash has been known as one of the nicest guys in the league. Marks referred to Nash as a leader, communicator, and mentor in his statement on the signing. With the Nash + Vaughn combination, I don’t think the players on the Nets will have any problem buying into their new coaching staff.

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Brooklyn Nets to ‘explore’ bringing in Gregg Popovich

Brooklyn Nets, Sean Marks

The first order of business for the Brooklyn Nets this offseason is hiring a full-time head coach. The team fired head coach Kenny Atkinson in March, promoting Jacque Vaughn under the interim tag.

Despite mentioning the low likelihood that it comes to fruition, Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Nets are expected to “explore” acquiring San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich.

“The lovable underdog days of the Nets are numbered, with league sources, including those familiar with the Nets and the Spurs, expecting Brooklyn to explore bringing the NBA’s biggest coaching name — Gregg Popovich — to the Nets’ sidelines.

Brooklyn, according to sources, almost certainly will be unsuccessful because the Spurs coach’s legacy is so closely tied to San Antonio, where he’s built a life and a legacy over the past two decades. Plus he’s under contract. There’s a “never say never” element according to one NBA executive, but it’ll probably never happen.”

Popovich signed a three-year extension with the Spurs last year. San Antonio was eliminated from playoff contention in the Western Conference on Thursday, marking the first time since 1997 that they’ve missed the playoffs under Popovich.

Popovich was an assistant for the Spurs from 1988-94. He has been the team’s head coach since the 1996-97 NBA season and has won five NBA championships, the last coming in the 2013-14 season.

Last week it was reported that the Nets will meet with Los Angeles Lakers assistant Jason Kidd, Philadelphia 76ers assistant Ime Udoka, Los Angeles Clippers assistant Tyronn Lue and former NBA head coach Jeff Van Gundy.

The Nets are 7-3 under Vaughn. They finished the 2019-20 regular season 35-37, good for the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference. Brooklyn will face off with the two-seeded and defending NBA-champion Toronto Raptors in the first round of the playoffs, which begins on Monday.

Brooklyn Nets: Kyrie Irving offers words of encouragement for Caris LeVert

Brooklyn Nets, Kyrie Irving

The Brooklyn Nets are without roughly half their roster in the NBA bubble due to a combination of injuries and players opting out of play. Subsequently, those present have assumed larger workloads in head coach Jacque Vaughn’s rotation, one of them being Caris LeVert.

In the six games he has appeared in since the regular season resumed, LeVert has averaged 25.0 points, 6.7 assists and five rebounds per game while shooting 48.0 percent from the field.

Kyrie Irving is among the Nets players absent from the bubble, but the star point guard has offered LeVert words of encouragement (quotes per Marc Berman of the New York Post).

“I talked to Ky [on Friday] morning, talked about the games and playoffs coming up and giving me encouragement,’’ LeVert said on a Zoom call Saturday. “He’s watching all the games. He’s been in this position before, fighting for something.’’

The Nets took the Portland Trail Blazers, who were playing to get into the NBA playoffs, to the final buzzer of their Thursday night matchup. Despite losing 134-133, there were positives for the Nets to build on, specifically LeVert’s performance.

The homegrown first rounder finished with 37 points, nine assists and six rebounds while shooting 16-of-29 from the field. LeVert finished the 2019-20 NBA regular season averaging 18.7 points, 4.4 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game while shooting 42.5 percent from the field and 36.4 percent from beyond the arc.

Vaughn feels Irving reaching out to LeVert is “huge.”

“It’s huge Caris got a call from Ky — that’s a great thing this isn’t an individual sport,’’ Vaughn said. “Just because we don’t have the group with us, doesn’t mean they can’t be part of it. Caris appreciated that.’’

The Nets finished the regular season 35-37, which is good for the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference, and 5-3 in the bubble. They’ll begin their first-round series matchup with the second-seeded and defending NBA-champion Toronto Raptors on Monday. Tipoff is at 4 p.m.

Brooklyn Nets confident they can hang with Toronto Raptors

Brooklyn Nets, Caris Levert

The Brooklyn Nets, 34-36, recently clinched the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference. They’re currently slated to face off with the defending NBA-champion Toronto Raptors in the first round of the playoffs.

Despite going 1-3 against their divisional rival this season, the Nets feel they have a chance to knock out the Raptors.

Caris LeVert says if the Nets “move the ball well” and “play good defense” they can win the series (quotes per Brian Lewis of the New York Post).

“We know they’re a really good team. Obviously they’re playing good basketball, they move the ball really well, they’re a great defensive team, as well,” Caris LeVert said. “But for us, we feel like it’s about us. If we move the ball well, if we play good defense, if we’re locked into the game plan, we can win that series. We truly believe that. So we’re gonna go into that playoff matchup all the way locked in.”

The Nets are without Spencer Dinwiddie, DeAndre Jordan, Taurean Prince, Wilson Chandler, Nic Claxton, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant in the NBA bubble. Despite the aforementioned absences, the Nets have pulled off a handful of impressive victories which include beating the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Clippers.

One of the new faces for the Nets is guard Tyler Johnson. Johnson says that if the Nets play their “style of basketball” they can beat anybody.

“As far as going into Toronto, you know what to expect. Then again, there’s no homecourt advantage. You’re playing a basketball team in the same spot for however many games it takes to advance,” Johnson said. “For us, it’s continue to play our style of basketball. At this point, we understand that, if we do that, we’re capable of beating anybody, and we showed it.”

Garrett Temple says if the Nets, who are 4-2 in the bubble, continue to “share the ball” and “get stops” they can win some games.

“To clinch seventh was big for us, obviously. We wanted to play whoever was going to be in that second spot, obviously it’s Toronto. We feel confident,” Garrett Temple said. “We’re confident. If we play the right way, if we play like we’ve been playing the last 2 or 3 games, share the ball, get stops, even though they turn people over, if we’re able to take care of it and do what we’ve been doing, we have a chance to win some games.”

Jacque Vaughn is 6-2 since taking over as interim head coach in March.

Brooklyn Nets coaching candidates revealed

New York Knicks, Ime Udoka

Shams Charania of The Athletic reports that Los Angeles Lakers assistant Jason Kidd, Philadelphia 76ers assistant Ime Udoka, Los Angeles Clippers assistant Tyronn Lue and Jeff Van Gundy are candidates to become the next head coach of the Brooklyn Nets.

Charania says that Nets owner Joe Tsai wants a “full-scale head coaching process to identify the best partner for team ownership, the front office, coaching staff and players.” The process will begin after the Nets’ season concludes.

Kidd played seven and a half seasons with the New Jersey Nets and coached the Brooklyn Nets in the 2013-14 NBA season. He was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks after one year, where he coached for three and a half seasons. Kidd is in his first season as an assistant with the Lakers.

Udoka was an assistant with the San Antonio Spurs from 2012-19. He joined Philadelphia’s coaching staff in 2019.

Lue was an assistant coach for the Boston Celtics from 2011-13, the Clippers in the 2013-14 season and the Cleveland Cavaliers from 2015-16 before being promoted to head coach in January 2016. Lue’s Cavs won the 2016 NBA championship. The head coach was fired six games into the 2018-19 season and rejoined the Clippers coaching staff in 2019.

Van Gundy last coached in the NBA in 2007. He was the head coach of the Houston Rockets from 2003-07. Beforehand, he was an assistant for the New York Knicks from 1989-96. He then became the team’s head coach in 1996, a position he’d hold until 2002.

The Nets parted ways with head coach Kenny Atkinson and promoted assistant Jacque Vaughn to interim head coach in March.

The Nets, 34-36, are 6-2 under Vaughn and 4-2 in the NBA bubble. They recently clinched the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference. They’re playing without Spencer Dinwiddie, DeAndre Jordan, Taurean Prince, Wilson Chandler, Nic Claxton, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant in Walt Disney World.

Brooklyn Nets: Evaluating this Team through 3 games

Jacque Vaughn, Brooklyn Nets

The date is March 10th, 2020. Spencer Dinwiddie hits the go-ahead jumper against the Lakers to put the Nets up 2. Anthony Davis misses a wide-open three to win the game, and the Brooklyn Nets hold on to upset the Lakers 104-102, which ends up being their last game together before the season is suspended due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The Nets were playing their best basketball of the season at that point under interim coach Jacque Vaughn.

Let’s fast forward a few months (with no basketball) to present day. The Brooklyn Nets have now played three games since the NBA season resumed and are a shell of what the team looked like in March, due to a large portion of the roster either choosing to opt-out or being forced to opt-out due to health/injury reasons. The team still has Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen, Chris Chiozza, Garrett Temple, and Joe Harris,  players who have all been essential pieces for Brooklyn all year. New faces, including Lance Thomas, Justin Anderson, Tyler Johnson, Jamal Crawford, and Donta Hall, have been thrust into the rotation as they work on developing chemistry and finding their role on this team.

Let’s break down the Nets performances game by game, starting with their first match-up with Orlando.

Orlando: 128  vs. Brooklyn: 118 – Full box score

Remember how Nets fans were excited to play this Orlando Magic team twice in the bubble? Well, it turns out that excitement was extremely misguided because the Magic destroyed the Nets in every aspect of this basketball game. This was a rough game for the two leaders on this team, Caris LeVert, and Jarrett Allen. LeVert finished with 17 off of 7-17 from the field and 0-4 from three but, most importantly, was a -26 while on the floor. Jarrett Allen scored 14 points and grabbed 5 boards. The Nets started the game off well, scoring 39 in the first quarter and grabbing a 3 point lead, but fell apart in the 2nd and the 3rd quarter, being outscored by Orlando by 32 points. 

The only bright spot for the Nets was Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, who got out of the #NETSTwitter doghouse after his awful play in the scrimmages. TLC finished with 24 points off 8-12 from the field and 5-8 from three. It was great to see TLC get in a rhythm and get some shots to fall. Outside of LeVert/Allen playing poorly, Chris Chiozza (2 points on 1-6) and Garrett Temple (3 points on 1-5) were extremely underwhelming in this game. The Nets, as a team, failed to stop Orlando on the break and had no answer for Evan Fournier (24 points), Nikola Vucevic (22 points), Johnathon Issac (16 points), and Aaron Gordon (10 points & 11 rebounds).

Brooklyn: 118 vs. Washington: 110 – Full Box Score

Things went much differently for Brooklyn in Game #2. While they were unable to stop Thomas Bryant of the Wizards the entire game, who went for 30 points and 13 rebounds, everyone on the floor played significantly better for Brooklyn and were able to win a close contest in the 4th, outscoring the Wizards 35 to 25 in the final quarter.

Caris LeVert (34 points), Joe Harris (27 points & 6 made threes), and Jarrett Allen (22 points & 15 rebounds) rebounded well from their subpar performances in the Orlando game, and all played up to their potential. Chris Chiozza finally decided to show up, dropping 14 points and dishing out 6 dimes off the bench. No other player was in double figures for Brooklyn, but they were able to pull out a much-needed win against Washington, who might win the title for “worst team left in the NBA restart.”

Brooklyn: 119 vs. Milwaukee: 116 – Full Box Score

Even though the Brooklyn Nets won a much-needed contest against the Wizards, many doubted their chances against Milwaukee on Tuesday afternoon. Jacque Vaughn even decided this game would be a great time to rest his most important three starters; Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen, and Joe Harris. The spread was as high as -18 before the game began. But never forget that old adage, that’s why you play the game.

The Nets stunned Giannis and the Bucks in the first half, hitting 14 shots from three-point land, a season-high for Brooklyn. TLC finished the game with 26 points on 8-12 from the field and 5-7 from the three-point line. Garrett Temple chipped in with 19 points and had his best game of the season as well.

The Nets led the Bucks 73 – 65 after the 1st half, and that was a half in which Giannis and Middleton each played a significant amount of minutes. Those two players were on the bench for the remainder of the game after halftime, a strategy most would assume was the Bucks plan prior to tip-off. While the Bucks clawed their way back into the game by outscoring the Nets in the final two quarters, Brooklyn was able to show toughness and resolve we hadn’t seen from them since March in the final few minutes of the game. Whether it was a clutch TLC three or a gritty Tyler Johnson rebound and put back, the Nets made all the plays they needed to make down the stretch to win the game.

Some other guys who gave the Nets great minutes: Donta Hall, who only scored 4 points and grabbed 9 boards, had an epic dust-up with Giannis after the two were wrestling for a rebound and Giannis ended up on the ground. Hall also had a highlight-reel block on Sterling Brown later in the game as well. Justin Anderson gave the Nets 11 off the bench, hitting 3 three-pointers in the process. Chiozza had a nice 10 point 10 assist game and has proven to be an excellent decision-maker in these last few games.

The Bad News: Jamal Crawford made his highly anticipated Nets debut, only to leave the game after a few minutes with some type of hamstring injury. His return to the court this season is now questionable.

Biggest Takeaway from first 3 Games & What’s Next?

Three games in, if anything about this team, it’s that they are extremely tough, and it will take a lot to break this team’s will. Many fans assumed the team would try and tank after their embarrassing loss to Orlando. The Nets followed that game up with two close wire to wire wins against Washington and Milwaukee. In that Milwaukee game, 8 of the 11 active players on the roster were G-League players at some point this season. The Nets will not shoot this well from three every game, and TLC/Garrett Temple most likely will not combine for 45 points on a nightly basis, but you have to like what you’re seeing from this Nets team through three games. Jacque Vaughn has done an outstanding coaching job with the Net’s gameplan these last two games, especially for Milwaukee, in which the team primarily ran a 2-3 zone on defense, and really seems to be coming into his own as Head Coach of this team.

Next Up: The Brooklyn Nets will go for their 3rd straight win when they face the Boston Celtics on Wednesday (8/5/20) night at 9:00 pm EST.

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Tyler Johnson views the Brooklyn Nets as a chance at ‘redemption’

Tyler Johnson, Brooklyn Nets

Tyler Johnson will be one of the handful of new faces suiting up for the Brooklyn Nets in the NBA restart later this month.

Ironically, Johnson signed a four-year, $50 million offer sheet with the Nets in 2016, but the Miami Heat matched the contract, as the guard was a restricted free agent.

Johnson is “ecstatic” to finally be playing for the Nets (quotes per Brian Lewis of the New York Post).

“My mom still says Sean is one of her favorite people of all time. We’re very fortunate to be in this position. I signed that offer sheet four years ago, so I was ready at that time to become a Net,” Johnson said, referring to a restricted free agent offer sheet.

“Obviously we know the story, Miami matched it. But … we were very interested in what was being built here. So we actually did sign that offer sheet and I was ecstatic when we got that call to come back over here.”

Nets interim head coach Jacque Vaughn says Johnson “fit into the description of what a Net is.”

“I did meet Tyler and overall impression was this was a guy we’d love to have with us in our organization, a guy that understands what it means to play and consider more than just himself when he’s on the floor. So he fit into the description of what a Net is,” Vaughn said.”

“Part of life’s twists and turns. We get him a little later, and fortunate to have him on the team now.”

The Heat traded Johnson to the Phoenix Suns two and a half seasons into his four-year deal. The Suns released Johnson in February.

Johnson ponders whether he was “100 percent” in Phoenix.

“Maybe I wasn’t at 100 percent. I was working through it, trying to get right. But I didn’t have that pop, that bounce I used to have where I’d try to go up over the top of people. Who knows if that played a role in anything,” said Johnson, adding his knee is OK now. “I don’t put any blame anywhere but myself. At the end of the day I can only control myself.”

Johnson views being with the Nets as a chance at “redemption.”

“Obviously it didn’t work out the way I would’ve wanted. There was a handful of things that could’ve gone better, not necessarily being anybody’s fault. Coming in and having the quick change, it took a long time for everyone to get on the same page. Unfortunately it didn’t work out. But fortunately, I’m here. I find myself in a position where I can have a little bit of redemption.”

Johnson averaged 5.7 points and 1.6 assists per game while shooting 38.0 percent from the field across 31 games with the Suns this season.

Brooklyn Nets sign Jamal Crawford and Michael Beasley

Brooklyn Nets, Jamal Crawford

Thursday afternoon the Brooklyn Nets announced on Twitter that they have signed forward Michael Beasley as a Substitute Player for the remainder of the 2019-20 NBA season.

Wednesday night The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported that the Nets reached a deal with guard Jamal Crawford.

Like Beasley, Crawford will be a Substitute Player for the Nets when the season resumes in Walt Disney World later this month.

Prior to these transactions, guard Spencer Dinwiddie, forward Taurean Prince and center DeAndre Jordan tested positive for COVID-19 and subsequently opted out of the NBA restart. Kevin Durant tested positive in March.

Brooklyn Nets big man Nic Claxton is out for the remainder of the season due to a shoulder injury, and Wilson Chandler opted out of play. Brooklyn signed guards Tyler Johnson and Justin Anderson to fill their place.

How did Crawford perform in 2019 and what can he offer the Brooklyn Nets?

Crawford, 40, has 19 seasons in the NBA under his belt and hasn’t suited up for a team this season. Last season he appeared in 64 games for the Phoenix Suns. For his career, Crawford is averaging 14.6 points per game.

Beasley, 31, has 11 seasons in the NBA under his belt and hasn’t suited up for a team this season. Last season he appeared in 26 games for the Los Angeles Lakers. For his career, Beasley is averaging 12.4 points per game.

Brooklyn’s active roster now includes Crawford, Beasley, Johnson, Anderson, Jarrett Allen, Caris LeVert, Joe Harris, Garrett Temple, Rodions Kurucs, Dzanan Musa, Jeremiah Martin, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and Chris Chiozza.

Jacque Vaughn took over as interim head coach after Kenny Atkinson and the Nets parted ways in March.

The Nets, 30-34, are the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference, eight and a half games behind the sixth-seeded Philadelphia 76ers, a half-game ahead of the eighth-seeded Orlando Magic and six games ahead of the ninth-seeded Washington Wizards.

The Nets will resume the NBA season against the Magic on Friday, July 31 at 2:30 PM EST at HP Field House.

Jacque Vaughn the favorite ‘against the field’ to coach the Brooklyn Nets next season

Jacque Vaughn, Brooklyn Nets

Among the many storylines surrounding the Brooklyn Nets is their head-coaching future. Jacque Vaughn took over as interim head coach after Brooklyn and Kenny Atkinson parted ways in March.

Vaughn coached two games before the NBA season was suspended and will be traveling to coach the Nets in Walt Disney World later this month. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Vaughn could be roaming the Nets’ sidelines beyond the summer festivities.

On the latest edition of “The Woj Pod,” Wojnarowski said he’d take Vaughn “against the field” to be the Nets head coach next season.

“He’s the head coach. They didn’t make him interim coach. I think the Nets are considering the possibility of a search, but I would still give Jacque Vaughn — I would take Jacque Vaughn against the field right now.”

Prior to his head-coaching promotion Vaughn was an assistant under Atkinson for three and a half seasons, the head coach of the Magic from 2012-15 and an assistant coach under Gregg Popovich with the San Antonio Spurs from 2010-12.

The Nets have been connected to other coaches around the league such as Tyronn Lue, Tom Thibodeau, Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy, among others.

The Nets (30-34) are the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference, eight and a half games behind the sixth-seeded Philadelphia 76ers, a half-game ahead of the eighth-seeded Orlando Magic and six games ahead of the ninth-seeded Washington Wizards.

Forward Wilson Chandler and center DeAndre Jordan have opted out of the NBA season, and big man Nic Claxton is out for the season with a shoulder injury. The Nets signed guards Tyler Johnson and Justin Anderson. Jarrett Allen recently discussed the challenges of players living in the NBA bubble and his role in the Nets rotation with the aforementioned players absent.

The NBA regular season is scheduled to resume on July 30.

Brooklyn Nets: Sean Marks talks Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving’s health and input

Brooklyn Nets, Kyrie Irving

Last summer, the Brooklyn Nets signed Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving to four-year, max-level contracts. Durant has missed the entire 2019-20 season as he rehabs from a torn Achilles tendon suffered in the 2019 NBA playoffs. Meanwhile, Irving has been limited to 20 games this season due to a handful of injuries.

As the NBA gears up for the resumption of the 2019-20 regular season, Nets general manager Sean Marks feels it’s important to take into account the long game with Durant and Irving regarding them playing this season (quotes by means of Brian Lewis of the New York Post).

“[Irving] is doing well. But like Kevin, you have to look at the risk-reward. When you have a lot of money and your future tied to a couple guys — the whole team, but these two guys are an integral part of it — they haven’t had the appropriate buildup,” Marks said Friday on WFAN. “The last thing you want to do is put these guys out there when they haven’t had the appropriate workload and buildup.”

The Nets parted ways with head coach Kenny Atkinson in March, subsequently promoting Jacque Vaughn to interim head coach. Vaughn coached two games prior to the NBA season being suspended.

Marks feels that Durant and Irving should have some input on the team’s head-coaching future.

“It would not be smart of us if we were not to involve some of these key players in this decision,” Marks said. “Kevin, Kyrie, we’re going to pick their brains on what they’re looking for in a leader, what they need. They’ve been brutally honest so far.”

Marks makes it clear that the two stars want to win a championship with the Nets.

“I’m not going to be asking Kevin to come down to Orlando to evaluate anybody. When you get to the level of those elite players, they have ultimate goals in mind. They want to be held accountable. Kevin and Kyrie have told me they want to win a championship in Brooklyn.”