There’s Smoke On Every Level In The Sixers, Nets Rivalry

Missed opportunities, close losses and being trash-talked to death finally caught up with Nets GM Sean Marks.

The Brooklyn Nets have fought hard against a superior Sixers team in these NBA playoffs.

The first four playoff games between the Sixers and Nets have been all you can ask for when it comes to intensity and passion. Supreme rivalries are built during the playoffs and adds to the theatrical value of the sport.  

After 82 games of defensively complacent hoops, you like to see things pick up a bit in the postseason. Fans want to see something different.  Both teams are obviously trying their hardest to win and despite the overly sensitive refs and this new belief that competing in a pro basketball game should be no different than giving foot massages, the series has probably been the most enjoyable out of all the love fests we are experiencing.

The sensitivity towards and dwindling acceptance of trash-talking and physical play has even infested old school dudes like Nets GM Sean Marks, who made his NBA living scrapping and scraping as a journeyman.   

On Sunday, the NBA announced that Marks has been suspended one game without pay and fined $25,000 for entering the off-limits referee’s locker room following Game 4.


From the NBA: “Brooklyn Nets General Manager Sean Marks has been suspended one game without pay and fined $25,000 for entering the Referee Locker Room postgame, it was announced today by Byron Spruell, President, NBA League Operations.

The incident occurred following the Nets’ 112-108 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday, April 20 at Barclays Center. Marks will serve his suspension Tuesday, April 23 when the Nets and 76ers play Game 5 of their opening round series at Wells Fargo Center.”

The NBA has definitely changed from Michael Jordan’s days when being physical and Alpha-competitive was actually an accepted part of court demeanor. Even more surprising is that fact that a guy like 6-10 250-pound Marks, who carved out a lengthy career in the NBA — mostly on grit and hustle — could get so incensed about some tiny skirmishes in a heated playoff contest.

The Nets claim it was about rules being enforced equally.

Marks knows the proper protocol for addressing those things.

Running into the refs’ locker room ain’t it. Besides, Embiid’s block didn’t look vicious enough to warrant even a flagrant 1.  The Nets were already amped up due to the back and forth between players the entire series. 

The Nets have a team of feisty players and when you throw Jared Dudley, Embiid,  Jimmy Butler and announcers who make every foul seem like a potential riot into the mix, anything can happen.

Marks was the first New Zealand-born player to play in the NBA.

After an 11-year career as a backup, Marks found great success as an executive and assistant coach before being named Nets GM in 2016. The NBA has been adopting more of the international game over the years, but Marks knows that the NBA ain’t Euro ball.

The young GM got excited and saw an opportunity to do something special when the Nets stole Game 1. Brooklyn missed an opportunity to make this a series when they failed to capitalize on Embiid’s absence in Game 3. Dudley called Ben Simmons “average” and Simmons made him eat his words. Things haven’t gone Brooklyn’s way since.

Marks has done a tremendous job with the team, building it from a laughing stock with no stars into a playoff contender. Brooklyn Nets hoops at the Barclays has been a great reprieve for Knicks fans who have lost the appetite for Madison Square Garden as the franchise suffers through one of the darkest eras in team history.

The Nets were that shining light on New York basketball this season.  The frustration of losing close games and the emotion of the series hit an apex and Marks lost his composure as he watched an opportunity slip from his hands. At least his squad knows that Marks has their backs and the organization’s got his back. That’s something the Nets can build on for the future.

JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The General Manager of Content & Social Media is in his 25th year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, newspapers, magazines and national TV. His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.