When 2014 began, the Brooklyn Nets were one of the most disappointing teams in the National Basketball Association. With a high-priced roster of veteran players who were underperforming, the Brooklyn Nets had a record of 10-21. Since, the team has come together, going 19-8 since January 1, and now sit with a record of 29-29. The last time the Nets were at .500 was four games into the season, when they sat at 2-2 on November 5, 2013.
Almost two months ago, some Nets players talked about working to get better, and to get back to .500. “We dug a hole and now we are climbing ourselves out of it. We are trying to get to where we need to be,” Andray Blatche, the Nets leading scorer off the bench, said back in January. Future Hall of Famer Paul Pierce talked about improving as well. “We are still building. We have a good groove going on right now since the new year. The goal is to eventually get to .500 and continue to get better.” The Nets have continued to get better and now a short-term goal of getting back to .500 has been accomplished.
The lone Nets 2014 All-Star Joe Johnson spoke about getting back to respectability. “It means a lot. We have overcome a lot this season. To be .500 at this point, hopefully we can keep climbing, keep building and try and become a better team.” Starter Shaun Livingston talked about building as well. “It feels great but again, we got more work to do. A lot left in the season. We just want to continue to remain consistent.” Johnson also talked about raising the team’s record above .500 Wednesday. “Well it is important. We understand that Memphis has been playing pretty well and they have a great inside presence and we know we are going to be in for a fight. We know we have to bring our A game.”
When Brook Lopez went down with a season-ending injury, the expectations of a championship, which had already begun to erode, all but disappeared. The Nets were headed to a horrible season, but they have been able to turn things around. Though a championship is still out of realistic expectations, with veterans like Pierce, Johnson, Kevin Garnett and Deron Williams, the Nets would be a tough out in the 2014 NBA Playoffs.
One of the biggest stories in all sports was the debut of Jason Collins for the Brooklyn Nets over a week ago, the first openly gay athlete to play in one of the four major sports in the United States of America. Collins made his home debut on Monday after the crowd chanted his name for several minutes. Collins was asked after the game how it felt to hear the fans cheer for him and then play. “It was cool. It was a lot of fun to get into the game…the support has been great. I always thank the fans. Thank those who support me and the Brooklyn Nets.”