Follow the Nets' return to New York with Newsday's Rod Boone.
Joe Johnson thinks Nets can win title right away
Joe Johnson knows the Nets have to take advantage of their championship window of opportunity and he's confident that's going to happen.
Immediately. As in this season.
"This year, the sky’s the limit for us," Johnson said Monday during the Nets' media day at the Barclays Center. "Hopefully, we can jell a lot faster than what people think. I think it’s wide open for us. I think we’ve got a chance to win the whole thing this year. I’m not just saying that.
"I honestly believe it."
Reminded that the defending champion Heat have added a few pieces and the Lakers scored a pair of superstars in their own right in Steve Nash and Dwight Howard, Johnson essentially shrugged when asked if he believes the Nets are as good as those teams.
"Yeah, definitely," Johnson said. "You are going to have to go through those teams to win, right? I’m not sugarcoating nothing, man. We know and understand that right now, Miami is the favorite and nobody is picking us to win anything. We understand that. But I think hard work is definitely going to pay off.
"We’ve got guys who have really been working. I can speak for myself. Even being traded, it took my mind to somewhere else, where I wanted to come in really prepared and try to do something that I’ve never done before."
Johnson is also eager to get things going with his new backcourt mate, the other half of the tandem that GM Billy King has called the NBA's top guard duo.
"Me and Deron sit and talk quite often about how things can be," he said. "But obviously, the game is not played on paper and whether people think we are the best backcourt. The game is played on the floor, so we still have a lot of work to do. We want to be the best, period. Everybody has to buy into the system."
Johnson likes the makeup of the Nets' roster.
"I just think we’ve got great character guys," he said. "I think we have a complete team. When you look at the guard positions, the bigs – Brook [Lopez] – we’ve got great hard working forwards. So, I think we’ve got everything that you could possibly want on a championship caliber team.
"Now, we’ve just got to put it together, come together as one and just make it happen. I think sky’s the limit for us. I’m excited."
He's also excited to be living in the Big Apple. Bye, bye ATL, the so-called New York of the South.
"Atlanta is nothing like New York," Johnson said with a laugh. "New York has definitely surprised me in a lot of ways, in a good way. I’ve been very excited since the trade and just going around the city and no matter where I’m at, somebody is hollering, 'Brooklyn,' saying they want a championship in the first year, so we’ve got to deliver.
"It’s definitely different, but at the same time, it’s something I can definitely get accustomed to."