Kevin Garnett (pictured) and Paul Pierce are two veterans who, in winning a NBA Championship with the Celtics, displayed the perfect mix of toughness and pure ability. Now on the Nets, those two future Hall-of-Famers bring that hardened mentality to a Brooklyn squad that didn't exhibit much of that last season
One main objection and criticism many had regarding the Brooklyn Nets during the team's maiden season at the Barclays Center was a lack of personality and identity. Although the team finished the regular season with a solid 49-33 record and a 4th seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs, the 2012-13 campaign left many fans and others close to the franchise with a bad taste in their respective mouths, mainly owing to its horrendous playoff departure in Game 7 of the 1st Round vs the debilitated Chicago Bulls. But another reason for such an unfulfilled season was that the Brooklyn Nets had no specified and outstanding characteristic about them. No big ego, no one strength or weakness. Just a pretty good team.
With the huge trade that brought former Celtics Garnett, Pierce, and Jason Terry to Brooklyn, that issue regarding a lack of voice in the Nets' locker room should be solved pretty easily. Both Garnett and Pierce have been NBA stars since the 90s and have always been known to be a leader for their clubs, mentoring younger players, being the figurehead to the media, and serving a pseudo-court generals when the games are going on. Neither of the two is afraid to speak their mind and cause controversy, even when that outspokeness is crass and, frankly, offensive.
Now, that Garnett and Charlie Villanueva "cancer patient" incident was certainly an example of a star athlete not recognizing where the game stops and real-life ethics and morals begin. I'm not saying in the slightest that I agree with Garnett's actions in that situation in any way, but I am saying that I wouldn't mind the 2013-14 Nets getting more attention, be it slightly negative or positive, than the 2012-13 Nets even if said attention comes from something that has absolutely nothing to do with basketball at all. Rarely does a championship-contending team go a full season without getting into fights, attracting unfavorable news coverage, or even having a few intra-team dustups.
The dynamic duo, both members of the Boston 2008 NBA Championship team, each have their own share of on-court flareups from over the years that demonstrate just a small portion of the intensity and fire with which Brooklyn's new starting small and power forwards play each and every game with. Guys like Kris Humphries and DeShawn Stevenson, for example, have served as the so-called "enforcers" (or just hard-nosed players) for the Nets in recent seasons, setting themselves apart as players willing to back their teammates up in on-court fights, brawls, or dust-ups. However, such a trait wasn't always displayed by these guys, just in isolated incidents. With Garnett and Pierce, it's constantly there.
Did the Nets pull off that massive deal with the Boston Celtics only to get a pair of veteran tough guys who will make other teams intimidated of Brooklyn's squad? No, they were acquired because of their scoring ability, playoff experience, and leadership qualities. But that doesn't mean that intensity they each show will go unnoticed or unnappreciated throughout the season. Hopefully, for the Nets and their fans, it will be accepted as a characteristic of the "new" Nets as they roll through the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference (Let's not get crazy optimistic, though).