TNT analyst and Hall of Famer Charles Barkley didn’t leave anything up to interpretation last season when he opined that the Brooklyn Nets were “soft.”
What general manager Billy King recently said he wants out of his team implies that he shared the same sentiment and wants to immediately flip that perception this upcoming season.
“You saw it,” King said. “There were certain games where things just happened that you can’t allow.
“At some point, you’ve got to knock a guy on his [expletive] if they’re doing things. You’ve got to take a hard foul and let them know you just can’t do that, and we didn’t do it … [You saw it] in certain games of the playoffs, in certain games of the regular season.
“It’s just basketball, but if a guy has got a layup, you’ve got to put him on his [expletive] so they don’t do it.”
King is absolutely justified in his request of the new-look Nets. Expectations are through the roof after making the biggest trade of the summer, but opponents will still make them look like a carpet if the Nets don’t start making them earn their points the hard way.
Thankfully, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry – the main offseason acquisitions – are as afraid of playing physical defense as a mountain climber is of heights. They’ve never been the kind to hand anything out.
Those guys will lead the way and have that intensity spread to the rest of their teammates, but they need to be careful and not try to go overboard in order to send a league-wide statement that the Nets are no longer pushovers.
One very physical foul should be the token in getting the point across both amongst themselves and to the competition early on in the season.
But if emotions run high and that foul actually elevates into a Flagrant 1 level – or quite possibly, but hopefully not considering their degree of danger, a Flagrant 2 level foul — new coach Jason Kidd needs to emphasize that there’s a fine line between playing physically and playing dirty, and that line should never be intentionally crossed.
King’s put the word out there. Now the Nets need to put out the hard, clean hits.