Nets embracing spotlight and expectations

Avery Johnson and Deron Williams talk on court

Avery Johnson and Deron Williams talk on court during practice at the PNY Center. (Oct. 10, 2012) (Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy)

At this rate, Avery Johnson may have to carry an umbrella every waking minute, shielding himself and the Nets from the national glare engulfing the franchise.

The Nets are experiencing unparalleled levels of exposure, something that's surely going to put a little extra burden on their shoulders during the 2012-13 season.

"I hope it does," Johnson said after Wednesday's practice at the PNY Center. "We're tired of not having any pressure. Hopefully, we'll have somebody on the brink of elimination . Then, if we don't [win], everybody on the team is not very good and the coaching staff [stinks]. That's what we want."

The Nets got the latest bouquet thrown in their direction Wednesday, when their All-Star point guard landed on this week's cover of Sports Illustrated. Deron Williams is the unmistakable face of the franchise, and seeing their floor general posing on the magazine with their borough's name scribbled in graffiti is yet another in a long line of signs that these aren't the Nets of yesteryear.

They'll also be featured all year on NBATV's "The Association," a behind-the-scenes program chronicling their inaugural season in Brooklyn. It debuts on Tuesday.

"It shows that people are starting to pay attention to what's going on here,'' Williams said, "and what we can bring to Brooklyn . . . It's all good. It's good for this organization, it's good for all of us as players that we get a chance to get seen. I know a lot of guys haven't been playing on [national] TV lately and those things are fun.''

Joe Johnson has been soaking in the Nets' newfound praise from the moment he was acquired, never once shy to offer how he truly believes his team has genuine potential to win a title. Being in the national crosshairs suits him just fine.

"I think it's better than underexposed," Johnson said. "It's exciting. We've moved a team to a whole new state, a new city. They've changed everything about the team, basically. We've got some new players this year and it's exciting. There's no team in the NBA this year that's done what we've done. So, obviously the spotlight is going to be on us."

Mum on Cuban: Williams said he's done talking about Mark Cuban and isn't going to get into a back-and-forth with the Mavericks owner. Cuban responded Tuesday to Williams' Monday comments regarding how Cuban's absence from his meeting with Dallas brass influenced his decision to re-sign with the Nets. "I'm not going to answer any questions about the Dallas Mavericks or Mark Cuban for the rest of the year,'' Williams said. "Even when we go play Dallas or when they come here. I'm not answering any questions about the Dallas Mavericks."

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