There is ingratiating yourself to a new city, new fan base, and a new work culture, all with good intentions.
There is slipping on your tongue and using a poor choice of words, despite those good intentions.
And then there is what Lionel Hollins just said.
The new Brooklyn Nets head coach could not get out of his own way in a recent talk with Lenn Robbins of the Nets’ official website. Hollins, who coached the Memphis Grizzlies from 2008 until 2013 (with interim stints with the franchise thrown in during 2000 and 2004), dropped this needless nugget of comparison out there that our pals at Nets Daily happened to catch:
"I'm pretty comfortable with New York. I just never thought I'd be living here ... especially after being 12 years in Memphis," he said smiling, adding, "Memphis is like, compared to New York, it's back in the stone age when you didn't have electricity or something. That's not a knock on Memphis, just a contrast in how developed and how unbelievably electric New York is versus Memphis. People are laid back, they move slow, they talk slow, drag their words out. Here everybody talks too fast."
Yeah, no offense Memphis. That’s not a knock.
I’d hardly attempt to classify myself as a New York City (or, more specifically, Brooklyn) or Memphis know-all, but I can claim to this. Outside of visits to a rural outpost in Michigan, I’ve only gone on vacation to two American cities over the last decade: Memphis, several times, and New York City (more specifically, Brooklyn) twice. They are two of the greatest cities in the world, and well deserving of your patronage.
Hollins clearly knew he’d said something wrong by immediately jumping to the “not a knock” comment about Memphis after calling it a relative “stone age” town in his discussion with Robbins, but that’s still after he compared one of America’s most vibrant and rewarding cities with a backwater outpost that doesn’t “have electricity or something.” Talking up the hustle and bustle of New York City is one thing – you could live there for a lifetime and still find something new to learn and love about that place every day – but dragging down Memphis along the way is pointless.
And incorrect. Because if Lionel Hollis doesn’t find Memphis “unbelievably electric,” then perhaps he was hanging out in the wrong places.
This is par for Hollins’ particular course, dating back to his combative playing career in Portland, and the messy end to his time with the Grizzlies. This is the same guy that carped endlessly about the successful Rudy Gay trade, but still had the audacity to refer to himself as “low-maintenance” in his introductory press conference with the Nets, when he is clearly anything but.
Hollins was cheerfully attempting to talk up his new home, when he slipped up. He’ll be under an intense amount of pressure in the city that never sleeps to justify a giant payroll and massive expectations. He’ll be looked upon as the needed salve to make things right after Jason Kidd’s tumultuous lone season in Brooklyn. This clearly was an attempt at a feel-good anecdote gone wrong.
He’s still wrong, though. Memphis is all heart, and if Lionel Hollins didn’t notice as much in his time there, then we have to question his judgment. Again.
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