On Wednesday, the Wall St. Journal’s very good Brooklyn Nets beat reporter Alex Raskin published a telling feature detailing the jetlag woes of the team he covers. The Nets were on a roll of late prior to the team’s loss on Sunday to the Toronto Raptors – winning five in a row to right their 15-22 record somewhat, putting the team back in playoff contention in the woeful East.
That loss was followed by a trip back home before the team flew to London to play against the similarly-lagged Atlanta Hawks in London’s O2 Arena on Thursday. Because of the five hour difference in time zones between Eastern and Greenwich Times, and the various promotional appearances the team had to put together before Thursday’s match with the Hawks.
"I slept pretty much all day, woke up at 8, went back to sleep," said Paul Pierce of the team's first day in England.
Photos from the Nets' Twitter account depicted the team as visiting dignitaries on an exhausting all-access tour of the city. Players, coaches, trainers and even executives posed in team-issued sweats in Trafalgar Square. Guard Alan Anderson was photographed during an appearance at a school, and Kevin Garnett sported a blue Chelsea FC jersey during a visit to the football club's locker room.
The Nets may have seemed thrilled to be in London, but their sullen eyes and frequent yawns on Tuesday told a different story.
And for veteran Joe Johnson – poor, 37,030-career regular and postseason minutes Joe Johnson – finding sleep on this rock, this England was not an easy task:
"When we got in yesterday, honestly, I slept for like five or six hours, and then I've been up ever since," said guard Joe Johnson. I'm gonna try to get caught up on my sleep tonight. For whatever reason, man, I just couldn't sleep."
For whatever reason, man.
Reasons … like THIS?!?
TMZ Sports has learned ... Brooklyn Nets star Joe Johnson hit up the China White nightclub in London Monday night and went on a champagne bonanza ... dropping close to $10k on bubbly.
But 3 days before the game, Joe chalked up some big numbers at the nightclub ... buying 7 bottles of Dom Perignon Rose Luminous (at $1,200-a-pop), 2 shots of Sex on the Beach and some water.
We’re just goofing with Joe, who is well within his rights to enjoy the nightlife in London, happily surrounded by Essex girls and all manner of Bottleservice Bobbys (and, when he leaves the club, bobbies). Johnson is hardly known for late nights or big headlines, so this is a bit of a departure, and one he’s certainly earned.
On top of that, we’re totally on board with judging character based on tip amounts, and the $960 gratuity left on top of this bill was a sound move by Joe in any culture. In England, however, services charges are factored into the cost of the product, so tipping is not required, and yet Joe still went over the top.
The Nets did have to practice on Tuesday at Imperial College, with Johnson apparently looking no worse for wear than any other Net. Raskin reported that the team had to work with just two rims, a step down for NBA squads that usually break practice time up between factions to work on several drills spread out over five or six hoops at a time.
The Nets, owned by noted party hound Mikhail Prokhorov, likely don’t mind Johnson’s big night out. Just as long as he keeps hitting big shots down the clutch, as the Nets slowly crawl their way out of their 10-21 start to the season, they’ll be just fine with the odd five-figure night out. The $119 million dollar man can obviously afford it.
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