The Brooklyn nets would destroy the NBA and set records on the scoreboard and in the vibes department.
Instead, the Nets were destroyed from within, the biggest disappointment in NBA history.
Worse than the 2004 Los Angeles Lakersworse than the 2013 Lakers who had to give the NBA world a dream final against the dynastic Miami Heat. Both Lakers squads were star-studded in name only, the best players being somewhat removed from their firsts.
It speaks to the nomadic nature of the NBA, a league so exciting in july while sometimes struggling to take advantage of continuity during the regular season marathon. Even a player-assembled team couldn’t create connective tissue for fans to follow and identify with, not even able to expect championships after an early failure.
The competition is moving faster than ever, and we see the uncertainty of the present leading to an even more questionable future if this kind of behavior continues. The Eastern Conference was back in full force after 20 years, but it doesn’t feel sustainable, especially if Kevin Durant is going west again†
It’s a rare case where no party is the victim, but no party is the only culprit – almost all of them have a hand in the state of affairs so far.
Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden all took turns nightmares for the defence, arguably the greatest trio of one-on-one talent on a single squad in 75 years of this league, trying to destroy everything in sight.
It ended up being every man for himself, a veritable battle royale for the exits, at different times for different reasons.
Harden was invested until he wasn’tand believe the Nets have seen the last of Irving in their uniform – don’t be surprised if the Nets use the waiver provision to get rid of Irving’s presence, even if his scent will linger for the next three years.
And no amount of sage will make Irving more attractive when he’s officially out, this stench is sure to haunt him for the rest of his career, predictably.
Durant – the reason anyone cared about the Brooklyn Nets – is still in his prime, still with a case of being the worst man in the world. Having a man with that title usually means that strife is the bare minimum, and he may have believed that the bare minimum would be necessary to recruit a contender.
His partner-in-disfunction, the master of destruction, Kyrie Irving, made sure to put that theory to the test. Irving’s determination to push the boundaries of all things team building has paid off, leaving a mess on Atlantic Ave and breadcrumbs of responsibility to be shared by all involved.
Everything about this marriage seemed off, especially when you consider that the Nets buyers found out that Durant and Irving had picked their black and white rose on Twitter, just like the rest of us who called Irving “peons.”
Sean Marks and Co. could never come before Durant and Irving, perhaps unaware of the weight they undertook. Now the Slim Reaper plays the Undertaker for a franchise that seemed promising at worst and model-worthy at its highest potential.
Even Durant makes the trade request to Nets Governor Joe Tsai instead of talking to Marks illustrates the disconnect, another fruit that falls from a poisonous tree. It’s easy by comparison to build a culture of players looking for names rather than those who are established supernovas on a bad day.
Irving is the ultimate mirror, bringing whatever you think you may be to justice, and it looks like the Nets have been found guilty by a jury of two.
The Nets had to say yes to Durant and Irving, they would be fools not to. They had no identity on the NBA cultural map, shadowed by Knicks on the back cover. But it seems they didn’t set any real parameters, as if they were so thankful to be graced by today’s stars that they didn’t bother to have a level of structure to follow, let alone respected.
It’s no coincidence that the two franchises Durant was looking for represent some sort of stability and competitive consistency, with the Phoenix Suns and Miami Heat at the top of his list. For all the influence Durant may have longed for and was bestowed on him in Brooklyn, he is a hooper first and foremost – the game being the most important with #HeatCulture and in the building of the Suns.
Sources told Yahoo Sports that wanting to play alongside Devin Booker is a major motivation, along with the opportunity to get alongside Miami-based hard-core Jimmy Butler – two players whose presence is rarely questioned.
Durant probably underestimated Irving’s effect on a franchise, as he didn’t see his friend’s destructive nature as anything but layered and misunderstood, but worth it. But being misunderstood is cute until you need someone who understands, and the Nets were either ill-equipped or unwilling to go through with Irving’s whims, eventually pushing back.
The franchise was stretched so thin that it was barely recognizable to Durant, but it sheds light on how he played for well-run organizations in his first two stops. The Oklahoma City Thunder didn’t win a championship, and Durant was certainly justified in wanting to leave, but it wasn’t dysfunctional. And the Golden State Warriors have wandered through the wilderness long enough to know not to mess with something good when it shows up on the doorstep, perhaps giving Durant the impression that some sort of stability could be molded with the snap of a finger, that the having good players automatically creates a culture.
Sometimes pushback is necessary in a healthy relationship. Any level of dictatorship in the NBA is not smart, with organizations needing the backbone and foresight to protect the players from their own worst devices – and that takes trust.
There’s a line between control and influence, and only a handful of franchises are respectable enough to follow it. The NBA as a players’ league can be both a legitimate reason and an excuse for franchisees not to do their job, as they walk around in fear that the most powerful people will end the relationship in an instant, regardless of contractual obligations.
Who does Durant think he can trust? Maybe it’s Irving, but even that needs to be shaken right now. It is impossible to interpret his state of mind, but if it is possible to give him credit, he knew when it was time to leave.
Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra, the unwavering duo that can handle everything from LeBron James and Dwyane Wade to Butler and everyone in between, look like a beacon next to the Brooklyn clown show. Monty Williams is the adult in Phoenix who may be overshadowing the controversy on a higher level than himself, with a great relationship with Durant – while also not being afraid to coach him.
Durant isn’t too obsessed with winning at all costs, but wasting the next four years of his career was unpalatable under the circumstances — even if he played a huge part in creating it. Guessing what Durant wants is a fool, even if everyone plays the fool at one point or another. He may never be happy unless he is unhappy, the ultimate bum.
When he speaks, he explains complex thoughts so simply that what he says cannot just be; there must be more.
He’ll have to explain this on some forum, because even his next destination won’t reveal his wishes so much as escaping the burning Brooklyn house, as his buddy Irving keeps a bottle of kerosene behind his back.
In a way, Irving was Durant’s shield, even if Durant didn’t mean that dynamic would exist. Durant must be rescued from Irving’s wayward clutches and tarnishing the good name of a player with a once pristine reputation is something Durant is concerned with, especially when Durant has found himself on the other side of the stable superstar, Stephen. Curry, was posted.
Durant is the same figure in both combinations, our perception of him is shaped by who he is around rather than his figure being so clear that no teammate or enemy can color it.
Durant packs his bags, again, justified in wanting to leave, but bears the responsibility in the circumstances in which he rightly leaves.