Brook Lopez deserves a huge pat on the back from every Nets fan on his way out of Brooklyn.
Arguably the best big man to ever don a Nets jersey, Lopez was shipped to his home state of California Tuesday evening in a trade with the Los Angeles Lakers for D'Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov.
The lifelong Net was drafted in 2008 when the team was still in New Jersey and became the centerpiece of the organization. Though Nets management never quite put the right pieces around Lopez to manufacture a deep playoff run, Lopez was a consummate professional on and off the court for an organization that went through a major overhaul during his tenure.
Four years into the 7-footer from Stanford’s NBA career, the franchise that drafted him uprooted the entire organization from the marshes of New Jersey and planted itself into the heart of Brooklyn at the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic avenues.
It was a momentous change for a franchise looking for its identity since the early 2000s. The Nets needed a face for their franchise and Lopez was it.
Hold on a second — but was he really?
Could this goofy, practical joking, cartoon loving, behemoth of a man really be the face of an NBA franchise? Turns out that answer was yes. Lopez stepped into the spotlight and took on the responsibility of being the Nets' prized possession.
Lopez’s California-cool charisma kept him grounded over his nine-year career with Nets. There were a lot of bad players that came through that locker room and I can guarantee you that every single one of them has nothing but good things to say about Brook. The guy played hard night in, night out for teams that absolutely stunk. He never said a peep and carried himself like a professional through and through.
To put Lopez’s Nets career in perspective and to help strengthen my argument that he may be the best big man to ever play for the Nets franchise, let's take a look at what he's put up over his career.
Right off the bat this past season, Lopez became the Nets franchise's all-time leading scorer with 10,444 points, just narrowly eclipsing Buck Williams' previous mark of 10,440.
That’s right, Lopez scored more points in a Nets uniform than Jason Kidd, Vince Carter, Julius Erving, Derrick Coleman and Richard Jefferson.
He is the team's all-time leader in field goals made, field goals attempted, field goals missed, blocked shots and offensive win shares. Brook also made the 2012 NBA All-Star team, and later on in the season would lead the Nets to a playoff appearance.
Now he is heading to the storied franchise that is the Los Angeles Lakers (along with the Nets' 27th pick in tonight's NBA Draft in Brooklyn).
Boy, is he in a much better situation now with the Lakers. Brook’s hard work and professionalism may have paid off for him big time as he now might have the job of his dreams in a place close to his roots.
Best of luck, Brook.