Since their move to Brooklyn in 2012, the Nets have attempted pretty much every viable path to winning a championship—they brought in a bunch of old guys who already won one (the sad Paul Pierce/Kevin Garnett teams), they built a team from scratch around good young guys (the exciting Caris LeVert/Jarrett Allen teams), and they cashed in young good guys for superstars (the now-demolished Kyrie Irving/Kevin Durant/James Harden teams). None of them actually worked, although in the greater New York City sports landscape, each attempt was hardly noticed by casual basketball fans. The Nets will barely ever register, because New York is a Knicks town, try as the Knicks brass might to dissuade it from being so.
Where the Nets did register in the media over the past three years was when it had something to do with Kyrie Irving, who was mercifully traded on Sunday. Irving had the ability to generate far more headlines for his antics off the court than when he was actually on it. He was incredible, but that's not what people will remember. Instead, Irving's time in Brooklyn will be remembered for his random disappearances; his vaccine hesitancy; and finally, his sharing of an antisemitic film, something which he never fully owned up to.
At each turn, Irving turned the questions asked of him back on the media, expressing that he was misunderstood, or even more than that, that he could never be understood by those who got paid to cover him. Which is absolutely true—Irving has led a complicated life, uncovering his heritage as an adoptee and dealing with life as a Black man in America, and has shared large parts of his journey of self-discovery with the world (in hindsight, too much).
So what does an athlete owe a fanbase, beyond their excellence on the court? New York City asks a lot of its stars, and often, that frustrates them. (See Julius Randle telling Knicks fans to "shut the fuck up.") It's hackneyed to say "New York's not for every player," because for the right amount of money, it almost certainly is.
The one thing New Yorkers won't accept is being shrugged off, like Irving tried to do at every turn. He was a self-described "martyr" and didn't owe anyone explanations for where he disappeared to, and lastly, he didn't have to explain why he shared a batshit insane film on Twitter, and why would you insinuate that it reflects his actual beliefs?
Ultimately, though, he crossed the NYC rubicon, and made it abundantly clear that he cared more for another few million per year than bringing Brooklyn a championship. The Nets, before Durant's most recent injury, were finally the team long promised, rifling off a 12-game winning streak in December that made it look like they could definitely win a championship. Once Durant returned, the thinking went, the Nets would begin gearing up for a title run.
But Irving, with a championship finally in sight, knew this was a bad business move—because the Nets had no intention of re-signing him after this season, Irving forced a trade to a team that will most likely hand him a lucrative contract extension, and in doing so, slammed shut the Nets's championship aspirations.
So now Irving goes to what amounts to basketball oblivion in Dallas, while the Nets will most likely start from scratch once again. So it goes in Nets-land. But who cares! The Knicks won last night. And the Liberty had a great week in free agency. The Nets? You mean the team from Jersey?
(Photo credit: Erik Drost / Flickr)
All of the following links are quite sure that the Earth is round:
- Yes, the old Maspeth laundromat that this 27-year-old pays $1,850/month to live in looks pretty cool, but the story fails to answer one crucial question: Does it have a washer/dryer?
- A Times Union estimate found that if Governor Kathy Hochul is successful in pushing through her changes to how New York state treats bail, as many as 10,000 cases a year statewide could be affected.
- Marvin Pines, a 65-year-old man sent to Rikers Island last summer on a drug dealing charge, died on Saturday morning. His attorney told Gothamist that he had a seizure. He was the first person to die in NYC jails in 2023; 19 people died while in City custody in 2022, the highest death toll in a quarter century for the jail system.
- Documented reports that Queens City Councilmember Vickie Paladino has sent $10,000 of your taxpayer dollars to a crisis pregnancy center. You might remember Paladino from this summer, after she spent an entire news cycle accusing a family in her district of being "squatters" and drug dealers without any proof.
- """Bishop"""" and Totally Aboveboard Mentee of Eric Adams, Lamor Whitehead, refuses to let the feds access his THIRTEEN electronic devices.
- Mayor Adams spent a night with asylum seekers in the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal (bundled up in a full sweatsuit, with lots of blankets) but now the plan seems to be busing some of them upstate so they can cross into Canada.
- Eliot Spitzer wants his dank, subterranean pit, and he wants it bad.
- Flaco, the Eurasion eagle-owl who flew away after his Central Park enclosure was vandalized, is STILL ON THE LOOSE, and apparently he's not eating the food left out for him.
- And FINALLY: Look at all these losers!