Brooklyn Boro

Nets won’t be content without NBA title

GM Marks insists Brooklyn won't rest until goals are reached

September 23, 2021 John Torenli, Sports Editor
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Brand new season, same exact mission for the Brooklyn Nets.

“I think our goal is to be the last team standing,” Nets general manager Sean Marks said Tuesday at the team’s training facility in Sunset Park.

“There’s probably, my guess, six, eight, 10 teams that have that same similar goal and a realistic one. For us, it’s about owning that and not shying away from it.”

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The Nets certainly haven’t been the least bit shy about their aspirations since acquiring Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving during Marks’ historic summer haul of 2019 and adding James Harden last season.

Brooklyn’s Big Three, coupled with former All-Stars like Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge and veteran forwards Patty Mills and Paul Millsap, saw their initial effort at our borough’s first major pro sports championship since 1955 go up in smoke earlier this year in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Not only did the Nets fail to reach their first NBA Finals since 2003, they also were forced to watch as Milwaukee, which eliminated them in a classic Game 7 here at Barclays Center, was crowned the best team in the world.

That didn’t sit well without anyone in a Brooklyn uniform, nor a fan base that has yet to experience the joy of winning it all, be it on Long Island, in New Jersey or right here on the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush.

Marks, who constructed this team for the specific purpose of capturing a title, knows having one of the best teams in the league on paper doesn’t get the job done come playoff time.

The Nets have to earn their championship on the hardwood, and the start of training camp for the 2021-22 campaign is just the tipping point for what Marks hopes will be many celebratory days to come.

“Anything can happen as we’ve seen just over the course of last year,” intimated Marks, who saw his team take a commanding 2-0 series lead over the Bucks before Milwaukee won four of the next five games.

“The ability to stay flexible and be able to pivot, this year, the previous year and years in the past has always been important and we’re going to have to do the same thing here.”

Second-year head coach Steve Nash gushed over the abundance of talent Marks and the Nets’ scouting department helped put together for another run at the title.

Steve Nash got the Nets to the Eastern Conference semifinals last season before they were eliminated in seven games by the Milwaukee Bucks. AP Photo by Adam Hunger

He also knows players like Durant, Irving and Harden will have to continue playing well with one another and their new teammates when the season begins in earnest Oct. 19 in Milwaukee, where the Bucks will receive their championship rings at the Fiserv Forum.

“Part of being a championship team is being part of something that’s bigger than yourself,” said Nash.

“We have guys that understand that they all come here knowing that we’re trying to get across the line, and it’s not about the individual’s minutes or touches. That’s something that collectively, we’ll deal with,”

Returning regulars like Bruce Brown and Joe Harris as well as budding young talents Cam Thomas, Day’Ron Sharpe and Nic Claxton help round out a roster that is doubtlessly the envy of general managers across the league.

But for Marks, the key to winning it all is acknowledging how long and grueling the process of going from training camp to championship parade can be.

Even if the Nets are odds-on favorites to win the East and perhaps the championship come next summer.

“You just never know what’s just around the corner,” Marks ceded. “I give our scouting department a heck of a lot of credit, our draft department and our coaches. The work that these guys have put in over the summer with our players has given us the best shot at being exactly that, the last team standing.”

LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers will host Kyrie Irving and the Brooklyn Nets on Oct. 2 in the exhibition opener for both teams. AP Photo by Marcio Jose Sanchez

NOTHING BUT NET: Marks admitted during his preseason presser that several Nets players and staff members have not yet been vaccinated, meaning they would not be able to practice or play in Brooklyn due to New York City’s recent mandate for those participating in activities at Barclays. “Regarding if they could play today, I can’t comment on who could play and so forth,” Marks admitted. “There would obviously be a couple people missing from that picture. I won’t get into who it is, but we feel confident in the following several days before camp everybody would be allowed to participate and so forth.” … The Nets will open their exhibition slate Oct. 2 at Staples Center vs. LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers. Brooklyn will host Milwaukee on Oct. 8, travel to Philadelphia on Oct. 11 before wrapping up the preseason Oct. 15 vs. Minnesota.

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