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.