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Pacers vs. Nets and admiring the Nets' futility

Yes, I said admire

Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

How about some real talk: the Brooklyn Nets needed that game more than the Indiana Pacers.

Yes, I said it. And I'll say it again: The Brooklyn Nets needed that game MORE than the Indiana Pacers.

Sure, a win would've gone a long way toward upping the Pacers' playoff odds. Sure, it might've increased the chances we see Paul George don blue and gold this season. But see, regardless of whether they make the playoffs, the Pacers retain some avenue of hope in the future. There's still the inevitable return of Paul George to anticipate, a top-10 draft choice could be on the way, and a glut of cap space is in the offing.

The Nets, on the other hand are on a not-so-merry-go-'round of mediocrity; they're the laughingstock of the NBA; as moribund as a Solomon Hill jumpshot, or a Ben Hansbrough dribbling exhibition.

To further accentuate this fact, ESPN recently ranked Billy King the worst GM in the NBA, then a few days later slapped the tag of second-worst owner on the increasingly absent Mikhail Prokhorov

Evidence in the affirmative abounds: Billy King's many trade follies have left the Nets without control of their first-round pick until 2019. They trot out some of the most obscene contract values in the NBA (Deron Williams, Joe Johnson), and their present and future success relies heavily upon a finesse, allergic-to-rebounding center who sports a Zydrunas Ilgauskas-ian slew of foot injuries on his resume.

Yet, I find myself somewhat envious of the Nets in one way: they went all in. It didn't work out ... but they went all in.

***

It's about championships, or so I'm told by just about every NBA fan with whom I communicate, including a large contingent of community members here at Indycornrows.

Championships. It's why we watch a ten-games-below-.500 team religiously. It's why we anxiously await the next Paul George rehab update. It's why you convince yourself that Solomon Hill will be the next Wesley Matthews (okay, so that's not a you problem, that's a me problem). We stubbornly cling to the idea that a tweak here or a bulldoze there will eventually lead to confetti, parades, and rings. 

Championship myopia has its share of flaws, however, the most obvious of which being: there's no definitive roadmap to snaring a Larry O'Brien trophy. For every Heatles' Two-Peat or Spurs-like dynasty, there are a dozen other cautionary tales such as the failed Nash-Kobe-Dwight Big Three, or the Clippers of early 2000s' yore, or the present-day Sacramento Kings.

The road to championship glory tends to be a complicated pursuit; a behemoth-sized melting pot of luck, risk, clever transactions, smarting and outsmarting, patience and impatience, big-time spending, and myriad other variables.

And that's why it's hard for me to be too critical of Billy King. When without a foolproof roadmap to your destination, one's natural response is to improvise in order to compensate. Armed with a spend-happy owner, a win-now decree, a top-three point guard in his prime, and headquartered in a historically anemic conference, King set off on a infamously bold transaction spree--forfeiting the team's future in the process--in one grand attempt to satisfy the championship obsession.

One day--maybe even one day soon--the Pacers may find themselves in a similar position. While their version of "going all in" may not be one of spend-and-trade-at-all-costs, it could very well be a great tear down in preparation of a rebuild, or a cap-space hijacking by spending over the luxury tax.

As a fan, you'll have to ask yourself: when that time comes, will you be ready to make the jump? Would it be worth it for a small chance at that elusive championship? Maybe most importantly of all, are you prepared to stand by the Blue and Gold version of Billy King & Co. if it fails?