Company culture is what drives the organization internally and what it shows to the outside world. It is driven by many values and how they interact. Those responsible for culture say that it needs to constantly evolve and update, like a living organism, this is the mantra, but it is not easy to achieve. And while inclusive values can be imposed from the top down, their maintenance – and their development – requires bottom-up support.
This difficulty in maintaining and nurturing the core values that make up the culture has been evident in the past few weeks in the NBA. The culture in Phoenix was ugly: the work environment of the 1970s might be one way or a nice way to describe it. In Boston, it was the head coach, not the owner, who was accused of failing to live up to the organization’s values. And in the Golden State, the incident between Draymond Green and Jordan Ball, then the ugly video leak showed that even in the best of cultures, things can go wrong.
The Nets, whose culture has been questioned and yes, mocked, over the summer have had no problems anywhere near what teams in Phoenix, Boston and the Golden State are dealing with. The naysayers, trial contract negotiations and trade orders, even ultimatums, fall short of a toxic work environment, sexual harassment or violence…and apparent disloyalty.
However, as Brian Lewis at The Post and John Hollinger in The Athletic wrote this weekend, the Nets’ culture took a hit after last season, and then again in the off-season. It might look like Kumbaya right now, but everyone understands that there is a need to rebuild things… and with an understanding without that, don’t expect much better results.
“Have we taken a step back? Without a doubt. The culture is not quite what it used to be. It will be our job to capture that,” Shawn Marks and Steve Nash said in his press conference at the end of the season in May. As Hollinger notes on his Nets season show, it was Before the end of the season!
Hollinger did a good job of showing how last season’s individuality was, for the need for a better word, the culmination of years of cultural decline, which at its heart was a desire to surrender to the stars.
The nets have replaced culture with talent… and so far they have lost. Yes, the Nets have fought the playoffs three years in a row and were within nails of ousting eventual champion Milwaukee in 2021, but they also haven’t won a playoff in the other two seasons.
He, like many fans, looks back fondly at the Nets’ success in 2018-19, the success that drew Kevin Durant and Keri Irving to Brooklyn in the first place. No one doubted that culture. As Hollinger writes, Nobody yearns for D’Angelo Russell, the compromises the Nets made from day one with KD and Kyrie laid the foundation for the frustrating results that fans know all too well.
Brooklyn exchanged this spirit almost immediately, without a fight, before Durant and Irving were officially even the Nets. The Nets agreed to significantly overpay their friend DeAndre Jordan (a four-year, $40 million deal that ended up paying the Pistons to take their hands off two years later) and months later fired Atkinson for daring to pay the apparently better Jarrett Allen accepted Jordan.
Culture, as it were, was left to Durant and Irving to decide, with what appeared to be a shockingly little retraction from management.
This may be oversimplifying things but there is truth. Hollinger also suggests that the spirit of player development that found and matured Joe Harris and Spencer Dinwiddy (and, to some extent, Russell) was missing, in part due to circumstances.
The commitment to player development that was a hallmark of the Atkinson era is also over. This was in part due to a lack of players to develop with the roster going to hilltop veterans on minimal deals, but even the Nets’ best young players had an unusual difficulty gaining traction. And with so many vets around, Brooklyn could no longer afford to use back-roster sites on Harris-Dinwiddie-type reclamation projects.
Now, of course, things look different…but are they? Network ownership may have won the day off-season by persuading Durant (reluctantly?) to cancel the trade order and Irving to sign up for his senior year but there are still plenty of questions, Lewis notes simply by quoting Durant and others from their Media Day interviews.
Lewis quotes Durant: “I feel like we have no respect on the court.” “And that’s what I want for us: respect among the NBA community as a team about how we play on both ends of the floor, from GMs all the way to the equipment manager.
“I want that respect, and you do it the way you do every day. We’ve gone through some steps in how we’ve operated over the past year because of circumstances – vaccine mandates, people disgruntled, injuries. We could have kept moving forward, and that’s what I’m trying to do as a player.” I don’t preach something I don’t practice. I come here, every delegate matters to me, so I want everyone to feel the same way.”
“I agree with what he said: hmm [were] flexible. “Just point to a point-blank, point,” said Markiv Morris. “When we played against them, they were thin. Just go up in their chest. And that’s what we did.”
Nobody, neither KD, nor Marks, nor Nash, believes the cultural issues are resolved and Marks has made it clear that enabling the player, to treat players’ families in relation to seeing Superstars as partners, remains a core value, if not the core value, that drives the networking culture. .
Keri Irving, whose refusal to get a vaccination in the face of City State was at the heart of both last season’s disappointment and off-season chaos, made that assessment… seemingly without sarcasm.
“There has been a level of uncertainty in this building, not just for the past year, but over the past few years,” Irving said, also on Media Day. And that accountability [Durant] It is required to be available and accessible at all times. We should have this kind of environment. So I echo the same sentiments, and I feel the same way. I just felt embarrassed.
“It will be a long journey ahead because there are those obstacles. Questions about health. The [healthiest] The team wins every year… In order to be healthy, it can’t just be physical. It has to be mental, it has to be emotional, and we have to have synergy as a team where we understand our highs and lows, our strengths and our weaknesses. … We don’t know what this team will paint on this board this year yet.”
There, Lewis and Hollinger have written, expectations have lowered this year compared to last year, when they were in heaven, with three debutante Hall of Famers seemingly poised to compete for a championship. But Harris, the veteran, nets culture’s ultimate success story, thinks that’s a good thing, Lewis tells.
“We’re not looking much further than that,” said Joe Harris. “Last season, we had such high expectations for ourselves that we looked at the playoffs a lot even at the beginning of the season. I felt that even in some early games where we would win, [we] I felt like we didn’t win enough or we weren’t up to the championship we were expecting for ourselves. So a lot of things now are just paying attention and just focusing on everyday things and not trying to look too far ahead.
“When you think about the championship teams, if you come and watch practice a lot, you can feel that because you know how focused the players are, how focused, and locked up in every practice — you feel the importance of that in every practice,” Harris said. But it was a bit of looking at the road, feeling the loss from the previous year in the playoffs and wanting to get back to that point, looking beyond some of the games we had at the start of the season rather than paying attention and focusing on the present.”
In other words, the culture was not strong enough to withstand them through adversity. Is it stronger this year? Much of that will rest, as it should, on Nash’s shoulders. He’s a Hall of Fame player with in-demand communication skills, but as Hollinger writes, “Nash needs the best, frankly” with his x and o’s. And while the roster has its share of bench leaders like Morris and Patty Mills, the culture will be based on the usual suspects: KD, Kyrie, Marks and Nash.
There are, frankly, other issues with culture. It can be aloof, very much “us versus them”, where “us” is confined to a narrow bandwidth within the walls of an HSS training center and “them” is everyone else. Criticisms from the outside can often be dismissed as “noise”. Sarcasm can be the end result and that’s bad Which culture (or fan base).
In the end, we’re told, winning cures it all, and as Hollinger notes, talent is talent, and the nets sure have plenty of that. There are holes in the menu that he expects, such as depth in the center, and in the wing that could be helped if TJ Warren returns anywhere near the look he showed in “The Bubble”. He has questions about Royce O’Neill, Edmund Sumner, Cam Thomas, etc.
Culture, as he and Lewis wrote, will likely tell the tale this season: To what extent will everyone be responsible, how will they be intertwined, how will they deal with inevitable adversities, and how will seasoned stars lead who demand more from everyone? See this space.