Start Believing

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Eddie Castro Sports

If you were to have asked me before the NBA season to pick two teams that I feel would be considered “surprise teams” I would have said the Phoenix Suns because of their young core of talent they have managed to build within the past three years and the Los Angeles Lakers, well, because LeBron James simply just makes everyone better. As we head towards the All-Star break, the one team that has turned many heads is the Brooklyn Nets. To tell you how good they have been, consider the fact that the team had only 28 wins last year. Not only are they officially over .500, but they are just 3 wins away from matching their win total from all of last year. If the season had ended today, the Nets would currently hold the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference.

Indeed, the Nets have been one of the most pleasant surprises in the NBA this year. They have won seven of their last ten games and before we say, “Well, the East this year, in its entirety, is quite weak,” here are some notable victories Brooklyn has collected. (The team has shown that they indeed have enough talent on their roster to at least keep up with a few of the household teams, not just in the East.) The Nets have wins against: the Seventy-Sixers, Raptors, a double overtime win against the Rockets (in Houston) and a win against the Nuggets, who currently hold the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference as we go to press. Since the devastating injury to star player Caris LeVert, there has been collective production from veteran players such as D’Angelo Russell, Joe Harris and young players like Jarrett Allen and Spencer Dinwiddle.

The Nets are expected to be tested quite often as they wrap up the first half of the season. After their home game against their borough-rival New York Knicks on January 25th, the team will have upcoming games at Boston, at San Antonio and two tough home games versus the Bucks and Nuggets. LeVert, who is arguably their best overall player, is expected to be back sometime down the road, as well as sharpshooter Allan Crabbe and Jared Dudley. Coach Kenny Atkinson has his team playing quite well and turning some heads in the process. On top of that, the future looks bright. The Nets will now have control of their first-round pick and will be in a predicament to have enough salary cap space to sign two max free agent players. Does this current Nets team have what it takes to hold on to a playoff spot? Stay tuned!

Sports Notes: (Baseball) BREAKING NEWS! As we go to press, it was announced that former Yankees closer Mariano Rivera became the first player in baseball history to be voted “unanimously” into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Former pitcher Mike Mussina made it as well. Congratulations to both.

Justice for William Ortiz: It’s usually quite difficult for me considering the significant losses I have endured within the past 2 twoyears. This past Thursday, a friend close to my heart was killed in one of the Lafayette Gardens buildings a week ago today. As a society, we need to take a stand in creating a better environment not only for us, but for the youth as well. Gun violence within the Bedford-Stuyvesant community has been quite crucial for some time and enough is enough! No mother should have to bury their child in a tragic manner. William Ortiz was only steps away from his mother’s apartment when the incident occurred. I have known him since I was 10 years old as we both attended P.S. 157 over on Kent Ave. and grew up together in Lafayette Gardens. He was a very energetic, kind, thoughtful and family-oriented individual whose personality was very contagious. His laugh simply made others laugh. He will forever be missed. Rest in Paradise my friend. This story is for you!