The only way Kyrie Irving could make himself an easier mark is if he were trying to guard you. On Twitter the other day he said that “My name is worth billions to these media corporations.” Name one.
But the problem with the Brooklyn Nets, the greatest dynasty that never was and never will be, is much bigger than Irving, a self-indulgent and self-absorbed player whose vaccination status was the single biggest contributing factor to what became not just a lost season, but one of the biggest flops in New York City basketball history. Irving: Who somehow seems himself as the hoops version of Nelson Mandela.
The larger problem with the Nets is that the people in charge, owner Joe Tsai and general manager Sean Marks, look like patsies here for the way they have allowed Kyrie and Kevin — K in this case stands for strikeout in basketball, too — to walk all over them from the time the two stars came to Brooklyn to win all those championships they were going to win.
You know what the Nets are? They are the East Coast version of the Lakers, another dynasty that never was and never will be, who also allowed their stars to run their franchise. They were going to be a Super Team for the ages and ended up winning one title, and winning it when the NBA turned into BubbleBall during COVID.
Now the Nets have gotten themselves into a situation where Irving, with a player option, is the one who decides if he wants to come back and play for them next season. If the Nets had a choice here, if someone other than their stars were running their franchise, they would tell Dr. Irving to make sure that door didn’t hit him on the way out of it.
Maybe the best part of this, for now, is something Irving said after the Celtics had swept his team, and he was looking toward the future:
“When I say I’m here with Kevin, I think that it really entails us managing this franchise together alongside Joe [Tsai] and Sean [Marks], and just our group of family members that we have in our locker room in our organization.
“So it’s not just about me and Kev. I don’t want to make it just about that. We are cornerstones here. But we have a few other guys that are on contract. And I think we just got to make some moves this offseason and really talk about it. And really be intentional about what we’re building, and have some fun and make it enjoyable.”
“So it’s not just about me and Kev.”
Yeah. It’s all about them.
It’s been about that since they hit town. The organization about which Irving is speaking — “our organization” — has belonged to them from the start. Tsai is just the money guy. Marks acts as if he works for them. Both really do look like suckers. By the way? Marks especially doesn’t get to walk away from this shipwreck, not by a long shot. He’s not an unindicted co-conspirator. Just a co-conspirator.
Gee, who wouldn’t want Kyrie Irving, team guy that he is, heavily involved in the makeup of the team going forward? What could possibly go wrong with that?
Oh, wait. I know. Just about everything.
Everybody knows how close the Nets came to knocking off the eventual champs, the Bucks, last season in the Eastern Conference semis. Everybody knows that one year later there might not be a completely different narrative if Durant had been a few inches behind the 3-point line instead of a few inches over it at the end of regulation in Game 7. He wasn’t. That’s sports.
Now what the Nets have to show for the Kyrie-Kevin era is one victory in a postseason series, against the Celtics, last year, five games. The Celtics came back this year and got them good. And in the one moment that might have changed so much in that four-game series, or at least given the Nets a fighting chance — though you’re always reluctant to use the word “fight” when the subject is the Brooklyn Nets — here is what happened at the end of Game 1:
Neither Durant nor Irving did anything to stop Jayson Tatum from getting to the basket to win the game with a layup. When it was all on the line in the last half-minute, the Celtics made a marvelous defensive stand at one end when the Nets could have put them away. The Nets just stood there like expensive mannequins in what turned out to be the defining moment of their season. Best team Tatum could drive right by.
When it was over Durant defended Irving, despite what Irving’s refusal to get vaccinated had done to the Nets and their season. What choice does Durant have? They are joined at the hip until Irving is playing for somebody else, something he will inevitably do, even as he talked about how he is here for the long haul. When you heard that, if you’re a Nets fan, you had a right to be thinking, yeah, but what’s the good news?
Again: This is what happens when Tsai and Marks put the players in charge. It’s worth wondering if Joe Tsai would run any of his other companies that way.
Even when LeBron and Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh formed the first super team in Miami (and did manage to win multiple titles), there was no question that the franchise was being run by one man: Pat Riley. Can anybody imagine what’s gone on in Brooklyn going on in Miami, where the Heat came into the postseason with the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference? The Heat have a real team, however far they go in this postseason. The Nets are a team named Kyrie and Kevin.
There was a moment when Tsai and Marks briefly stood up. It was when they told Irving that if he wasn’t vaccinated he wasn’t just sitting out home games. He wasn’t going to play at all. They actually said a word that must have sounded to Irving as if it came from an obscure foreign language:
This display of backbone didn’t last. They spun around, like a figure skating spin, and changed their minds once more of their guys started getting hurt. And looked softer than soft ice cream in the process. James Harden may not make it through the next round in Philly. But he made it through this one. You know why it was so easy for him to force his way out of Brooklyn? He knew the owner and the general manager were pushovers, that’s why.
QB STILL THE BIG QUESTION FOR GIANTS AND JETS, LET THE KIDS PLAY (WIMBY) & ROOTING FOR HARDEN …
One more thing: You know how long Steve Nash will coach the Nets?
Until Kyrie and Kevin get tired of him.
The Giants and Jets both had great nights on Thursday night, first night of the draft.
The Giants had actually had a good night before anybody made a pick, just because Dave Gettleman was no longer making their picks.
And once more we wonder if this all might be a new beginning for both of our teams.
Except for this one tiny detail:
Neither team from MetLife is sure they have the right quarterback.
The All-England Club should take a step back, because there’s still time, and understand that they don’t change anything in Ukraine, or save the world, by not allowing players from Russia and Belarus to come play in the biggest tennis tournament in the world.
Daniil Medvedev is a tennis player, one of the best in the world, one good enough to stop Novak Djokovic from winning the Grand Slam last September at the U.S. Open.
He’s not the war criminal.
Nor is a terrific young player named Andrey Rublev.
Nor is Aryna Sabalalenka.
Like they say in baseball.
Let the kids play.
My pal Barry Stanton says he was always hopeful that Giannis would have the kind of run in Milwaukee that Tim Duncan had in San Antonio, and so far, so good.
Why did the Cardinals first base coach — Stubby Clapp, whoever he is — not get suspended for jumping Pete Alonso the way he did in last Wednesday afternoon’s brawl?
And I love the Cardinals manager, Oliver Marmol, wringing his hands because the Mets threw up and in on Nolan Arenado.
Marmol must have thought the pitch that hit Alonso in the helmet earlier in the series threw itself.
I will say this again, with respect: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, writing when he does at Substack, is one of the best sports columnists in America.
You know what I was doing on Thursday night?
Rooting hard for James Harden.
Balls that get into the Monster Seats at Fenway Park are no less silly than the pop flies that become home runs at Yankee Stadium.
No one would have believed you five years ago if you told them Serena would never get to 24 majors.
No Giants fan that I know would have picked up Daniel Jones’ fifth-year option.
Jones still may turn into something, though it rarely happens at this stage of a quarterback’s career.
But for now, he is merely the best Duke quarterback the Giants have had since Dave Brown.
The late George Young fell in love with Brown the way Gettleman fell in love with Jones.
But when it does, and you’re wrong, it sets your program back five years.
The Packers just aren’t going to ever take a wide receiver in the first round, are they?
If I were the Browns, I’d sort of hang on to Baker Mayfield until I find out whether Deshaun Watson gets to play football next season.
Will Smith hits harder than the Red Sox do.
Source: Berkshire mont