Barnes Hosts Celebrity Flag Football Game

Matt Barnes and Snoop Dogg hosted a celebrity flag football game at Palisades Charter High School in Pacific Palisades, CA on Sunday, August 18, 2013. The event was to benefit the Athletes vs. Cancer program Barnes started together with his wife Gloria Barnes in 2008.

A handful of celebrities and athletes were on hand for the game, as hundreds of eager fans watched their favorite NBA players take the football field. Barnes’ LA Clippers teammates Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, and Ryan Hollins joined him on the field. DeMar DeRozan, Nick Young and Metta World Peace were also in attendance, playing for Snoop Dogg’s team.

The game was close until the end, as the NBA stars proved they could get it done on the gridiron as well as the hardwood. Former NFL player Rodney Peete, who played quarterback for Team Snoop, was surprised with how well the NBA players adapted to football.

“What’s amazing is athletes are athletes no matter what sport,” Peete said. “There were some great plays by some basketball players, especially Matt Barnes. He could play secondary, wide receiver or DB on anybody’s team right now.”

Former NBA player Kareem Rush, who was there supporting his longtime friend, agreed with Peete’s analysis.

“Matt surprised me, he could be a great receiver in the league,” Rush said. “It’s fun just to be out here and support the cause.”

Though Barnes was able to showcase his receiving skills by scoring a few touchdowns; it was Team Snoop that ultimately prevailed. Two late touchdowns from World Peace and an interception for Young sealed the 63-56 victory.

“It went down to the wire the way it should have,” Peete said. “We felt some of the calls went against us and it was a little biased, but we prevailed.”

Fans poured onto the field after the game to meet their favorite stars and get autographs. Cancer survivors from UCLA hospital were all smiles, as they took a group picture with all the players.

“We are working with children and teenagers that have been struck by cancer, just to bring smiles to their faces,” Barnes said. “Cancer doesn’t discriminate, it affects everybody. Everybody knows someone that’s been affected by cancer, so we do what we can to give back.”

“Matt’s mom passed away from cancer and both my parents are cancer survivors,” Gloria Barnes said. “Cancer hit us hard and close to home, so we do anything we can do to bring awareness to this epidemic.”

Athletes vs. Cancer hosts numerous charity sporting events throughout the year in an effort to raise awareness and money for the fight against cancer.

Same Old Nets

The Brooklyn Nets moved to a new arena in a new city, but the start of the season has that same old Nets feel. The slow-starting Nets we remember from New Jersey may have crossed the Hudson disguised as a new team from Brooklyn.

The Nets fell to 1-2 on the season Wednesday night, losing by 30 points on the road against the defending champions Miami Heat.

At the beginning of the season head coach Avery Johnson preached defense, saying he wanted his team to be a top ten defensive team. So far through three games, the Nets are giving up 103 points per game and are worst in the league in rebounding.

It’s still early in the season, but the message Johnson was trying to deliver in training camp is yet to hit home.

Much of the Nets defensive woes can be attributed to the injury of Gerald Wallace, who missed the past two games because of an ankle sprain. Wallace is listed as day-to-day and is expected to miss Friday’s game in Orlando.

Johnson inserted gritty veteran Keith Bogans into the starting lineup, but he is undersized at the small forward position. Newcomer Joe Johnson has been filling in as well when the Nets go to a three-guard rotation, but the lack have of size has been detrimental so far.

To make matters worse, the team across town has been playing lights out and are the only undefeated team in the league. The New York Knicks are 3-0 with impressive victories against the Heat and the Philadelphia 76ers.

Much has been made about the crosstown rivalry between the Knicks and Nets, so much so that the season opener slated the two New York teams against one another. However, the game was postponed because of Hurricane Sandy.

Hurricane Sandy is nothing to joke about, but it may have saved the Nets from being the joke around town. The Knicks were poised to ruin the Nets home opener at the brand new Barclays Center, but they’ll have to wait until the end of the month to play their first game in the neighboring arena.

Yes, it’s still early in the season, but the Nets need to come together quick. Expectations are higher than they were in New Jersey and New Yorkers aren’t as patient.

Another couple of losses and the Nets may as well pack up their bags and head back across the Hudson.

Nets Success Hinges On Defense

The Brooklyn Nets have not been shy when talking about their title aspirations for this season.

“I think we got a chance to win the whole thing this year,” said Joe Johnson.

“We’re interested in trying to win championships,” Deron Williams said.

The old adage, “defense wins championships,” is exactly the message Coach Avery Johnson is sending his players.

“We must make a major step defensively,” Johnson said at Nets media day. “We got to be in the top ten, that is one of the barometers for us defensively. In the last two minutes of the game, I want to see a team that is physically and mentally tough.”

The Nets were one of the worst teams defensively last season, ranking in the bottom tier of every major defensive category. If the Nets want to have the kind of success the players are talking about, team defense must improve dramatically. It will take a collective team effort, starting with Brook Lopez in the middle.

“I’m focused on being the guy in the middle that everyone can count on,” Lopez said. “If they get beat, I’ll be back there.”

“You’re only as good as the people behind you,” said Williams. “If Brook Lopez has my back and the next guy has his back, we’re going to be a good defensive team.”

Johnson did not want to divulge details, but said he wrote out specific goals for each player, including Lopez, who joked with the media about being tested on defensive material the players got for training camp.

“Avery gave us a pretty big handbook for training camp,” said Lopez. “It’s all defense, all the defensive principles, our ideas and our beliefs. We even have four written tests.”

Although most of the team’s personnel are not known as elite defenders, newcomer Joe Johnson believes that as long as the defense stays unified, the Nets will be a good defensive team.

“I think defensively we are going to be OK,” Johnson said. “It’s not about one guy. It’s going to take a collective team effort for us to be a great defensive team.”

Johnson specifically mentioned one player known for his defense, Gerald Wallace, who he described as “a blue collar player, and a shot blocker at the three.”

Wallace believes the Nets have a defensive advantage because they can play a number of different lineups.

“I think we have a great chance of being a great defensive team,” Wallace said. “We have a lot of different lineups as far as playing big or playing small. We can play with our quickness or play with our muscle, depending on the type of game we want to play.”

The small lineup that Wallace referred to could see him sliding to the power forward position, Johnson moving to the small forward spot and bringing in MarShon Brooks or C.J. Watson to play alongside Williams in the backcourt. A lineup with more muscle could mean Wallace playing the guard position and having another big man like Reggie Evans or rookie Mirza Teletovic coming off the bench and playing the small forward position.

The Nets are confident they have the right pieces to be a championship team. They made big moves during the offseason and made an even bigger move to a new arena in a new city. Now it’s about putting the pieces together and figuring out how to win with defense.

C.J. Watson Press Conference

C.J. Watson met with the media Tuesday to talk about his decision to join the Nets, playing alongside Deron Williams, his journey through Europe and the D-League and the importance of giving back to the community.

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Brooklyn Nets Introduce C.J. Watson

The Brooklyn Nets showed off their newest acquisition, C.J. Watson, to the media Tuesday morning at the team’s practice facility in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Watson, who started a career high 25 games last season in Chicago, will serve primarily as the backup for Deron Williams, though he suggested the idea of them playing together.

Watson is excited to play alongside Williams, who he believes is the best point guard in the NBA.

“I always thought Deron was the best point guard in the league,” Watson said. “Always playing against him, watching him. He is always one of the toughest players.”

Watson signed a two-year contract Monday for the veteran’s minimum, with a player option for the second year. He had other offers for more money, but a phone call from Williams and head coach Avery Johnson was all he needed to make his decision.

“(Deron Williams) and Avery called me,” Watson said. “Just expressing their interest, telling me how much they wanted me to be here. That was probably the deciding factor.”

Watson thinks he will fit perfectly in the up-tempo style of play that the Nets like to run and is excited to help lead the team in its inaugural season in Brooklyn.

Watson’s sister gave him the nickname “The Quiet Storm” because “according to her, I’m a quiet and shy guy,” Watson said. “But my game hits you like a storm.”

Nets fans should be thrilled that “The Quiet Storm” decided to settle in Brooklyn.

Brooklyn Nets Roster Nears Completion

The Brooklyn Nets re-introduced Brook Lopez this morning at a press conference at the New York Marriott at Brooklyn Bridge, a day after the team announced it had re-signed Kris Humphries.

With Gerald Wallace already on board, Nets management focused on bringing back Lopez and Humphries to solidify the team’s starting frontcourt.

Lopez believes that he and Humphries can develop into a formidable duo.

“My strengths complement Humps strengths,” Lopez said. “He is a tenacious rebounder, goes after every loose ball, he’s a great defender. We can build a nice little frontcourt together.”

Lopez, who played in only five games last season because of a broken right foot, said he wasn’t focused on the barrage of trade rumors that would have sent him to Orlando as part of a package for Dwight Howard. Instead, he focused on getting back to full strength.

“For the most part I’ve been working on getting healthy,” Lopez said. “I want to be there for my team, that’s my main goal.”

“I don’t really read a lot of the stuff you guys write,” Lopez joked after being asked if the trade rumors bothered him. “I keep to myself mostly, read a lot of books and comics books, and they don’t mention Dwight Howard too much.”

Head Coach Avery Johnson always believed Lopez would return, even bestowing the center with a special nickname.

“I’ve been calling Brook ‘Brooklyn,’ that’s been his nickname,” Johnson said. “It would look really bad for me calling him ‘Brooklyn’ for a year and he never went to Brooklyn.”

The Nets continue to be one of the most active teams this offseason, as management tries to find the right pieces to round out the roster. The team also signed veteran shooting guard Jerry Stackhouse on Monday and point guard C.J. Watson on Saturday, who will back up Deron Williams.

“He was the number one guy on our board,” Johnson said referring to Watson, who was released by Chicago last week. “We thought he did a really nice job filling in for Derrick Rose last year and coming off the bench.”

The team will probably make a few more tweaks before the start of training camp, including finding a big man to back up Lopez.

“We have Reggie Evans and Humphries who can fill in at the five,” Johnson said. ”But we would like to sign another veteran to give us some security at that position.”

Johnson admitted that he was excited about the upcoming season and that the team looked good on paper, but he was quick to reiterate that they still have a lot of work ahead of them.

“It’s our time now,” Johnson said. “Hopefully we can take the buzz and turn it into something really special.”