Tonight’s Nets loss to the Knicks was actually as bad as it looks in the box score: the Nets started out great, went ice cold over the second and third quarters, came back to take the lead late in the game, and then proceeded to be held without a field goal for most of the game’s last three minutes. The game itself was somewhat less unsightly than the ragged band-aid bundle sported by Jamal Crawford (35 points and 8 assists, with a game-turning 3-pointer in the final minutes) on his left shoulder, but at least…well, at least the Nets had recycled toilet paper in the Izod Center bathrooms? Maybe this needs context.

I wrote a post a while back about the Nets’ intentions to “go green” over the seasons before their move to the (increasingly troubled) Brooklyn stadium development being pursued by owner Bruce Ratner, and I would’ve been pretty well satisfied to leave it at that. Despite my better judgment — and the team’s pending desertion of my home state — I still care about the Nets a lot (I’ve written about it both at CSTB and in print), and I’m fascinated by the prospects of sustainable development (although I know a lot less about that subject than I do about the ’90-91 Nets), but the more I looked into the Nets carbon neutrality initiative, the more transparently bullshit it became. When my friend Stephen Del Percio — who knows about as much as I do about the Nets and significantly more about green architecture and sustainability — asked me to write something about the Nets’ ongoing greenwash for his Green Buildings NYC blog, I did so gladly, enthusiastically, and (surprisingly) without surplus profanity. The (short) piece is here, and also appears — in my first ever cross-post and in what is perhaps a weird bit of self-pluggage — after the jump.

Thanks for humoring me on this. Future emissions from me on this subject will be restricted, most likely, to Steve’s blog.

In being a sports fan as in being a participant in the world, circa 2007, a certain internal spam filter is necessary. So much of what we see and hear is often so blithely, obviously dishonest as to be either thoroughly laughable or seriously depressing, depending on your perspective and mood. Where the spam filter comes in is in knowing what to discount ” the lawyer-penned non-apology apologies; the clock-killing answers on Meet the Press; the fervid press releases ” and what to keep. Leaving aside a foul-baiting flop here and a feigned hit-by-pitch there, sports as they are played are fairly straightforward. It™s when the front offices come into play that it™s time to turn the spam filter on. And so it is with the New Jersey Nets™ new œShoot To Be Green initiative. As one of many uninspiring old Nets billboard slogans proclaimed, œYou can™t fake a fast break. Greenwashing a franchise, however, is another story.

This is not to say that the Nets initiative isn™t a laudable idea. It is. But weasel-words abound in the team™s press release: œtargeting becoming the first NBA team to become carbon neutral is admirable, and would become doubly so in the unlikely event that it ever becomes possible. Ditto for the stated goal of œadopting sustainable practices in the operations they control, which translates more to buying recycled copier paper than it does to creating a more energy-efficient Izod Center. That 30-year old arena is owned by The New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, not the Nets.

While it™s hard to get too angry at the Nets for trying to brand themselves as a green franchise, it™s important to spot the broader fraud behind all this. While the franchise hangs Seventh Generation paper towels in its administrative washrooms, owner Bruce Ratner is simultaneously in the process of spending $500 million in his Atlantic Yards development, an increasingly Quixotic project which promises to leave a Cloverfield-sized carbon footprint upon a borough that seems, frankly, not to want it very much. A move to Newark™s new, significantly more mass transit-accessible (if non-LEED) Prudential Center would seem to be more in keeping with the team™s new green philosophy. That™s assuming of course, that such a philosophy actually exists.

It will take more than green giveaways “ fans at January 14th™s Nets/Blazers game received an œeco ballpoint pen (and a lethargic 30-point Nets loss) “ for the Nets sustainability talk to be more than buzz-begging PR. But we™re sure Ratner and his PR maestro, Brett Yormark, are œtargeting that goal, too.