On a Brooklyn Nets team that made big improvements this offseason with players with big personalities so it is easy to forget the usually reserved Joe Johnson at times. Nets coach Jason Kidd didn’t forget about him though when he was asked recently about which player would take the final shot and tabbed Joe based on last year’s success in the closing minutes.
At media day on Monday, Johnson explained that while he was flattered, he thinks that the game situation should decide who takes the final shot.
“That means a lot coming from him,” Johnson said. “I think we all know how things went statistically, but I think that decision should be based on how guys are playing their game and how the game is going. If you got one guy is rolling it may not be a hard decision on who takes that last shot.”
No matter who takes that shot, Johnson is excited for the season and thinks the team has a pretty good shot at a championship.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Johnson said. “This year teams can’t load up, double and triple team us. If you do you are probably going to pay the price. That’s going to be more fun than anything, but defensively that’s where we’re going to win ball games.”
“A lot has changed,” he said. “The experience, the approach day in and day out, during every game, and practice. Even just coming here during media day and getting a chance to get to talk to Jason Terry and Kevin Garnett, guys who have played in and won championships. It’s a little different around here. It’s the first time I have ever come into a season and felt like we could really, really win a championship.”
Not only does Johnson think the roster is right, but he added that the time is right for these particular players. “I think we’re all at a point in our careers where all of that (personal statistics) is behind us. We’re all a little older and at the point in our careers where statistically guys will check their egos at the door, won’t worry about the stat sheets and be willing to sacrifice.”
Johnson makes a good point about that and it’s one that is not uncommon around the Nets these days. They might be a collection of stars and future Hall of Famers, but everyone realizes that for the good of the team not everybody is going to put up huge numbers every night. I suppose that’s one of the benefits of having an older team filled with guys who aren’t playing for their next contract. This team truly is at a point where the thing they are focused on achieving is about winning.
Do they have the personnel to get it done though?
“It’s a great feeling coming into the season knowing that we have the pieces of the puzzle to win it all. If everyone is healthy and we stay on the right page then I think it’s possible.”
“We got some great additions that will send us in the right direction. Honestly, coming in and winning it all is the goal. We definitely have the pieces to put us over the top.”
• On Jason Kidd as head coach: “He’s definitely going to be a player’s coach. He just retired so he’s going to be very understanding. He’s a guy the whole team looks up to. I think that was a great addition, him as coach. I was surprised. I didn’t see that coming. I think it’s going to be fun. He just retired and he understands what’s going on.”
• On his heel injury: “It’s great. The plantar fasciitis is gone. I’ve been doing the things I need to do over the summer to keep it calmed down, to keep working hard, and to keep my weight down so I don’t put so much pressure on it.”
• On reacting to the Celtics trade: “I was shocked. This whole summer was really shocking for me. I couldn’t believe it. They said it wasn’t going to be finalized until later in July so I said I wouldn’t get geeked up about it until it was finalized.”
• On playing with Paul Pierce: “I was a rookie. It was fun. I enjoyed it. I didn’t even sleep a lot my rookie year because I was scared I was going to miss something. I really enjoyed those moments. I actually saw some clips over the summer from when I played in Boston. It was real different and it was a different time for me and my teammates.”
• On the offense: “I don’t really think you can double team us because we’ve got so many guys that are threats who can score and make plays. I think we’re an unpredictable team to the point where you don’t know who is going to go off that night. So I think it’s going to make us a pretty explosive team.
“We’re able to get mismatches every night. Every night will be different. We’ll be able to play off KG at times, (Brook Lopez), (Deron Williams). Our jobs are going to become easier, but we’re definitely going to have to sacrifice for the good of the team.”
• On the bench: “Our bench is going to be just as important as the starters and we probably have one of the deepest, if not the deepest benches in the league. There are going to have to be times when these guys are going to have to step up into a starters role and I think they’re capable of doing it.”
• On limiting minutes of certain players: “Us being as deep as we are, we should cut back a lot of guys minutes to the point where we are fresh going into the postseason. I will say again that this team has a great opportunity. This is one of the best basketball teams that I have ever been apart of.”
• On the unofficial first practice in California: “We just came out, kind of freestyled it, mixed and mingled. We had been around each other before, but not as teammates. Mainly it was just seeing the guys and meeting the new ones.”
• On managing expectations: “I think we’ll be alright. We understand that even though we haven’t played a game yet that there is a target on our backs. It’s a challenge night in and night out that we’re all looking forward to. We know what to expect.”
• On the nickname jerseys: “I thought it was pretty cool. I still don’t understand what’s going on. It should be pretty cool. No nickname yet, you’ll have to wait and see.”
• On the Knicks rivalry: “It was fun last year. It’ll probably be even bigger this year considering the fact that they had a rivalry in Boston with Kevin and Paul and this year as Nets it’ll probably be a lot bigger.”
• On the excitement level compared to last year: “I was very excited last year. I’m pretty ecstatic this year as well. Last year was a little bit unknown, you didn’t know what to expect. This year things are more familiar and we’ve made some additions to make us an elite team so we’ll see what happens.”