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Sunday, May 5, 2013

Even with the loss, P.J. deserves to coach Nets

Sure, it was downright disappointing that the Brooklyn Nets lost Game 7 of their series with the Chicago Bulls.
Sure, the Bulls were the walking wounded with players having every malady under the sun except for malaria and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and the Nets were the relatively healthier and deeper squad and the Bulls still won.

And yes, Tom Thibodeau proved that he's the best coach in the NBA bar none and willed his team to win the franchise's first-ever Game 7 on the road, punching every single right button along the way. Daequan Cook? Did he really hit two big 3-pointers in the game? I didn't even know he was on the Bulls' roster until that second trey hit the bottom of the twine.

Thibodeau had an answer for every single out-of-bounds possession the Bulls had. Every single one. There wasn't an improvisation to be found. All set plays, all leading to baskets.

So, yes, P.J. Carlesimo was the second best head coach on the floor last night at the Barclays Center. I think even P.J. would reluctantly agree that he played second fiddle to Thibodeau last night. P.J. was not bad, but Thibodeau was just that much better. It happens.

However, getting outcoached by a master isn't reason enough for Carlesimo to receive his walking papers from the Nets' Russian czar Mikhail Prohkorov. Regardless of what you may read in some of the New York tabloids today, calling for P.J.'s carcass, it's not his fault that the Nets didn't move on.

In fact, Carlesimo did a wonderful job coaching the Nets for 57 games. He won 37 of those games. There's no way that if the powers-that-be stuck with the now-forgotten Avery Johnson (well, forgotten by everyone except Avery's own son, who put on Twitter his own version of a 'Ha-Ha, that's what you get for canning my old man), that Johnson would have led the Nets to that point. There's no way. That team was headed for disaster before the team fired him in December.

Carlesimo got the most out of most of his players. He helped to turn Brook Lopez into a star. He got the daily malcontent, Deron Williams, to actually play like himself down the stretch and even helped Williams crack a smile or two along the way. He won games despite the fact that the team got very little offensive production all season from either forward position. Hell, the Nets won 49 regular season games with Reggie Evans as their starting power forward. Reggie Evans can't throw a beach ball into the swimming pool, but the Nets won with him.

It wasn't Carlesimo's fault that Joe Johnson, getting paid $19 million, couldn't make shots in Game 7 or that Thibodeau exposed the defensive weaknesses of Lopez, Evans and Andray Blatche. Carlesimo did what he could with the roster he was handed. It just wasn't good enough against a master like Thibodeau.

My friend Mike Vaccaro, the New York Post columnist, wrote that Carlesimo was playing checkers to Thibodeau's chess or even Chutes and Ladders to Thibodeau. He's right. The intangible of having Thibodeau as the head coach was enough to win Game 7.

But let's look at the whole body of work. Carlesimo handled the media better than any other New York coach outside of Joe Torre. He was brilliant in that respect. He also turned the Nets' season around in a blur and guided the team to the playoffs for the first time in six years. He's a basketball lifer who deserves to coach this team through a full training camp.

The Brooklyn Nets were a major success in Year One, from the arena to the positive vibe the team gave off to their new fan base. A lot of the credit of that success belongs to Carlesimo. He deserves the chance to coach this team next year and into the future.

Carlesimo needs to get more out of a very weird chemistry of this team, because they play weird. They disappear for stretches, usually in the third quarter. They play sometimes with no sense of urgency, like they did last night until they found themselves shockingly down 17 by halftime.

But P.J. deserves to be the head coach, plain and simple. They don't need Phil Jackson, who is going to tell the Nets to go stick it anyway. They don't need either Van Gundy brother. They don't even need Doc Rivers. They need to take the interim tag off Carlesimo's name and throw him a three-year contract.

And after that, they need to put out an APB for Johnson's jump shot, because it went missing at the way wrong time last night.

As everyone knows, I'm a diehard Mets fan. Yeah, I know. It's masochism 101.

And by now, nothing the team does should surprise me.

However, I received a promotional e-mail this morning saying that next Sunday, on Mother's Day, the Mets "will present a special performance from the Wiggles" beginning at 12:30 p.m.

Yes, the Wiggles. First, they had Cirque de Soleil in the parking lot. Now, it's the Wiggles. I Tweeted this morning that if any of the Wiggles can play the outfield or serve as a middle inning closer, then I was all for them.

C'mon now. The Wiggles? Is that what we've become? The freakin' Wiggles?

I can't shake my head enough at this franchise.

We have not a single outfielder worth a spit. Mike Baxter would be a decent fourth outfielder on the Anaheim Angels' Class AAA team. Yet he's playing almost every day for the Mets. I think he went homerless in Little League. Colin Cowgill was supposed to be a great find, until he couldn't find the baseball and couldn't get on base. And neither one has a better arm than my dead mother.

We have a horrific bullpen (thanks Sandy, because he has said for the last two years, it was his priority to build a solid bullpen and we've had nothing but a conglomeration of smelly fish coming from behind the right field wall), yet we have the Wiggles. Hey, if all else fails, we at least have the Wiggles.

It's a sad state when the best relief pitcher is a 31-year-old rookie who spent 16 years in the minors and now pitches every single damn day. Scott Rice pitches every day. His arm will fall off by July. But Terry Collins keeps parading him out there every game because, frankly, no one else can get anyone out.

Incredibly, some asinine Met fans were calling the radio shows this week, saying they wanted Collins fired. Hell, managing this God-awful roster, he should be named Pope rather than get fired. Wait, maybe that is not a step up these days.

It's not Collins' fault that his bosses are lying, tight-wad buffoons who don't spend a dime improving the team or the franchise or the baseball experience at CitiField.

But wait, at least we have the Wiggles. Not many other teams can lay claim to the Wiggles.

Rumor has it that the Tellytubbies are next, as long as Tinky Winky can play centerfield.

You can read more of my work at, and I'd say you can read my Nets or Devils coverage as well, but both those teams are on the golf course today as you read this.

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