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Let the Good Times Roll

Take some time to savor the delicious collapse of the Brooklyn Nets

April 26, 2022

Nathaniel S. Butler

The great thing about 2022, and by "great" I mean "horrifically bad," is that even those people who are personally doing just fine understand that figurative (literal?) hell is just around the corner. You look around, everything is okay, there is no immediate danger, and yet deep down you know in your guts there's a looming, unavoidable disaster coming down the tracks.

Or maybe that's just me! But if you're on my wavelength even a little, you've probably learned that you need to enjoy the small moments to maintain your grip on sanity. This goes for sports, too, because sports reflect our times in an almost supernatural way, i.e. the bad people keep winning. So when the bad people lose, you really need to relish it. Novak Djokovic gets booted out of the Australian Open, paving the way for Rafa Nadal to increase his lead? Relish it, baby, because it's only a matter of time before the evil empires return to conquer us all.

With that in mind, I encourage you to take a moment on this lovely Tuesday to bask in the hilarious, wonderful collapse of the Brooklyn Nets. Whether you're fed up with the smugly confident flat-earth takes of Kyrie Irving, the aesthetic murder that is James Harden's entire game before he got traded in February, the entire concept of Ben Simmons, or, uh, something about Kevin Durant, just take a long, deep breath, inhale the metaphorical scent of those metaphorical roses, and let your most serene smile spread across your face. Hell, even if you're just a Brooklyn or New York City hater, join the fun. I don't agree with you, but this is a big tent. For today, it's our shared religion, and all are welcome.

You know by now that the Nets, the NBA's latest "super-team," just got mercilessly swept by the cold and clinical Boston Celtics. Despite loading up last year with three insanely talented players—a formula that we've seen work in the past, at least for a limited time—the Nets blew it because two of those players are insane and basketball remains a team sport where a complete absence of chemistry is always going to kill you. Today, there are stories galore about how "off-court issues" may, just may, have made things a little bit harder. Hmmm...you think?

The biggest problem was always Kyrie Irving. He wouldn't get vaccinated this year, which meant that he couldn't play until December, and then couldn't play home games until March. Along with hurting the team, it pissed off James Harden, who is himself notorious for being a primadonna who demanded full control of the front office in Houston, never got along with other superstars like Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook, and would sulk to the point of sabotage when he didn't get his way. He didn't like the style of offense, either, and apparently didn't even like Brooklyn. His lack of fitness and general low effort in turn enraged Durant, which made the whole team atmosphere miserable and made a trade inevitable. Throw in a few injuries, including one to Durant, and what happened? Everything you expected to happen, almost exactly.

I'm allowed to say this because, despite a long career of making terrible predictions, I called them a "budding disaster" early last year when Harden first came to the team, writing:

They are going to be so fun to hate, especially because there's always the trace of fear that somehow, some way, they'll get their shit together and actually start winning. Nothing would be worse than that, and it will keep us on our hater's toes. The more likely scenario is a complete implosion, the public execution of Nets GM Sean Marks (who must be a lunatic for bringing this team together), and a dumpster fire that we can all enjoy with some delicious schadenfreude popcorn.

All I'm saying, today? Eat that popcorn. A little less than a year ago today Sam Anderson wrote that awesome feature about Durant, everyone was buzzing about the Nets, and it seemed like they were on the verge of something big and annoyingly zeitgeist-y. They took a 2-0 and 3-2 lead on the Bucks in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, and only an overtime victory for the Bucks in Game 7 eliminated them. Milwaukee went on to win the title, which means that if not for that slim defeat, the Nets could easily be reigning champions. That reality wasn't far off from existing, and it would have been nightmarish.

Now? They stink, and we can safely laugh at them. Get the most out of this you can. In no time at all, the worst people in the sports world will be lording it over us again, and we'll look on this moment with fondness and nostalgia. Today, though, it's pure unadulterated joy—max it out. This is the good stuff, and we've got to ride the high while it lasts.