Friday , May , 19 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Vince Carter, Nets Believe They Can Win 2007 Title

Long-time readers of SLAM magazine will remember a particular cover caption which later came to be a source of embarrassment, reading, if memory serves, “New Jersey Nets Champs by 2001? Count on it.” It was with the collapse of the pre-millennium Nets in mind, then, that I read today’s report that New Jersey believe they can win the NBA title in 2007.

“I think we can win. If the bench gets stronger, that definitely helps,” said Jason Kidd, who on breakup day last year was ticked about being asked to play GM, but this year gave some thoughts. “The league is getting tighter, becoming compressed. If you look at the top 10 or top five, it could go either way.”

Ason’s title aspirations may be a little hopeful, but he makes a good point nonetheless. Having seen how the big boys have struggled in these playoffs, it’s clear there’s a greater degree of parity among the league’s upper echelon than we’ve seen in a while. Midseason title favourites Detroit and close runners-up San Antonio should have had an easy path to the finals, but both have found themselves trailing at points in the postseason.

Vince Carter, Nets Believe They Can Win 2007 Title

It’s not a stretch to put either Dallas or Miami in the same bracket, and arguments can be made for upstart squads such as the Clippers, Suns and, perhaps, the Cavs. While the Nets are obviously a step below them at this point in time, it’s not inconceivable that they could join the elite next season with a helpful acquisition or two and a continued improvement by Nenad Krstic.
"I believe we have what it takes," said Richard Jefferson, who sacrificed all season to prove he could play and make it work with Vince Carter. "We could use another person to run on the fast break – very similar to what we had with Kerry (Kittles). Just to come off and bring that type of energy."
"We’re definitely close," Carter said. "We just have to tweak it, guys have to get better. It’s easy to say how good we can be, we just have to show it," Carter said.

They may not be my team, but I’d love nothing more than to see the Nets win it all next year for the simple fact that it would be the most entertaining championship team since Shaq’s Lakers. There’s a lot to be said for the tactics of attrition that have helped the Spurs and Pistons win rings recently, but you have to admit that the Nets’ fastbreaking style of play is a little easier on the eyes. Still, the thought of New Jersey winning a title is much like Steve Nash playing defence: there’s no guarantee it won’t go down at some point in the future, but I just can’t imagine it happening.