SINGAPORE/UNITED STATES - Watch out LeBron James, the Brooklyn Nets are coming for you.
After forming the National Basketball Association's (NBA) newest 'super team' with a string of high-profile signings, Brook Lopez believes his side can topple the Miami Heat and bring a championship to the city of New York.
"We want the title next season - I won't settle for anything less," the 25-year-old centre told The Sunday Times during an exclusive phone interview on Friday.
"We've got the best roster now; there's a lot of intelligent, high IQ players who know what it takes to be the last team standing."
Following a first-round play-off exit at the hands of the Chicago Bulls, the Nets' billionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov has splurged to assemble the league's highest payroll of US$102 million (S$130 million).
Arriving from the Boston Celtics are veterans Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, whose premier shooting and rebounding skills led their previous team to the 2008 NBA championship.
Together with Lopez and an elite backcourt of Deron Williams and Joe Johnson, this creates a starting line-up with a combined 35 All-Star appearances.
Seasoned utility players Jason Terry, Andrei Kirilenko and Shaun Livingston were also roped in to beef up the bench.
The Nets, who changed their name and colours after moving from New Jersey to a state-of-the-art facility in the heart of Brooklyn last year, are going all out to make up for past struggles. Last season's play-off appearance was their first in six years.
"I've spoken to Paul (Pierce) and he can't wait to get going to build a new legacy in a new city - he said he will do whatever it takes to help the Nets win," said Lopez, who averaged 19.4 points, 6.9 rebounds and a career-high 2.1 blocks last season.
Perhaps the franchise's biggest - and most eye-catching - addition was 40-year-old Jason Kidd as head coach. The 10-time All-Star becomes just the third person since 1976 to make his NBA coaching debut in the season after retiring as a player.
While admitting his initial surprise at the appointment, Lopez cannot wait to work under his former team-mate, who was regarded as one of the game's greatest creative point guards.
"Jason wants us playing the way he was on the court, which is by keeping it simple, sharing the ball and looking for spaces to exploit," said the 2.13m player, whose twin Robin plays for the Portland Trail Blazers.
"It will be weird to address him as a coach but I honestly think he's the right man with the right attitude to lead us."
Lopez, who is currently in Seoul to promote the league, jets into town on Aug 31 for the NBA 3X Singapore 2013 presented by Standard Chartered Bank.
The three-on-three tournament at the Ngee Ann City Civic Plaza will also be graced by the Nets' dance team, the Brooklynettes, and the Suns Gorilla, official mascot of the Phoenix Suns.
Excitement is building ahead of the new NBA season, which tips off on Oct 29.
Led by the irrepressible Big Three of James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, the Heat are heavily tipped for a third straight championship.
Besides perennial challengers the San Antonio Spurs and the Oklahoma City Thunder, Lopez also singled out the Los Angeles Clippers - led by decorated coach Doc Rivers and star point guard Chris Paul - as a title threat.
But, if all goes to plan, Brooklyn will host a victory parade next year.
Lopez said: "Getting my hands on the NBA trophy has been a dream and obsession since I was a kid. If we set aside individual goals and egos and play as a team, the Nets are going to be tough to beat."
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