NBA

Kyrie Irving’s contract saga shows he’s the Nets’ worst bad actor

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There have been plenty of bad actors around the Nets, disrupting what was supposed to be a golden path to glory. Sean Marks took a blood oath with a good man and good coach named Ken Atkinson, promised they were in the do or die foxhole together, then fired Atkinson and hired Hall of Famer Steve Nash , who spent two seasons looking like an intern learning on the job.

Marks and team owner Joe Tsai talked about Kyrie Irving and vaccinations, then relented when the Atlantic Division standings became too uncomfortable to watch. James Harder? Harden made his way from Houston to Brooklyn, then made his way to Philadelphia.

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None are worse than Irving, of course. His solitary act of subterfuge, a precious “should-or-shouldn’t-I” when it came to opting for the final year of his $36.5 million contract, is only the latest in a pattern of pathetic petulance. And even by Irving’s standards, his patently absurd explanation to The Athletic defied all the boundaries of shame:

“Normal people move the world forward, but those who dare to be different lead us into tomorrow. I’ve made up my mind to sign up. See you in the fall.

Even for a serial fake like Irving, it’s amazing, unless “daring to be different” can be interpreted as “I tried to get out of town but found out that the only option for me – can -to-be – was to take a $6 million one-year contract with the Lakers.

He’ll lead the Nets into tomorrow with $31 million more than that.

Talk about a profile in courage.

Nets
Kyrie Irving
Getty Images

So the Nets — or at least that part of the organization that Irving identifies as “normal” — will hold their noses and welcome Irving after winning that look down, and once again take on the East Division code. . That has always been the most promising scenario for the Nets if they remain committed to following through with their decision in July 2019 to go big game hunting, bringing in Irving and Kevin Durant.

Of course, every time you mention this, you have to add this qualifier: “assuming Irving doesn’t stray too often from the network.” This is the annual supplement for Irving’s services, which was already well established in Cleveland and Boston.

The saddest part of it all is that, once again, Durant is forced to sit front row at Irving’s freak show. Everything Durant did was his job: consistently, quietly, and excellently. There were a few social media hiccups and a few media skirmishes, but in three years (and two seasons) with the Nets, he showed up on time, played hard and played as well as anyone. who in the NBA.

He has 28.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 6.8 assists in 90 games as a net. He’s in the rarefied 40/50/90 shooting club as a net (specifically: 40.9 percent from 3-point range; 52.5 overall; 90.0 from the line). If the Celtics contained him in the playoffs this year (if you can call a 26.3-point average “contained”), it’s worth recalling that a year earlier, with Irving out and Harden hobbled, he did his best to keep the Nets viable. in the playoffs, averaging 34.3 points, 51.4% shooting.

Surrounded by an overabundance of snowflakes, Durant has been a pillar of quiet reliability.

For the good of the team, for the sanctity of the hunt, he will surely do it again this year. He firmly refused to criticize Irving for any of his quirks and quirks. He was a trusted winger even when Irving broke formation.

Nets
Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving
Corey Sipkins

And what did he get for it? He watched his former crew at Golden State win a title without him. He lost two of the three playoff series he played as a Net. He must have listened to Charles Barkley say, with some merit, that “before KD gets this big respect from all the old bosses, he’s going to have to win a championship as a bus driver”.

If the Nets are indeed going to deliver on their promise, it will be because Durant captures this team’s narrative as well as its soul. It will be up to him – not Nash, not Marks, not Tsai – to subdue Irving. He really needs to drive the bus. He should want to drive the bus, should want to run it with the Nets, and if he can get them there, that bus would forever sit alongside Ralph Kramden’s 2969 bus for eternal status among Brooklyn busses.

With or without the worst player in the NBA as a running mate.

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