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The Loop

The Loop

The new Brooklyn Nets are a budding disaster, and will be so much fun to hate

January 14, 2021

Emilee Chinn

Here's a funny stat, courtesy of Twitter:

When you add up their respective usage rates, it adds up to more than 90%, and it doesn't take a math wizard to understand the problem with having them all on the same team. This is far from the most interesting element of the trade that saw James Harden move to the Brooklyn Nets to form a "dream team" of sorts with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, but it does plant a seed of future disarray, and it's important to keep in mind.

Now, whether you fear this new triumvirate or are just eagerly awaiting the inevitable combustion (for me, it's both), there is some excitement in having a fresh new team to hate from the deepest part of our guts. Last week, I begged Houston not to trade Harden to a team I liked, and they obliged, which I appreciate. The reason behind that post was the almost pathological loathing Harden inspires, pretty much all of which seems to be earned. There's his style, first and foremost, which is a sometimes dull, sometimes infuriating blend of rule exploitation, monotonous iso dribbling, and relentless three-hucking complete with almost total defensive apathy. That would be bad enough, but he's also seemingly a huge jerk who runs his other star teammates like Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook out of town while taking every possible liberty with a franchise who, like an over-accommodating parent, was perpetually afraid to tell him no.

This is the man you are introducing to the Brooklyn Nets, a team that features Kyrie Irving.

Let us talk about Kyrie Irving. I had a conversation with a fellow hoops fan the other day, and we were discussing the players whose images have changed the most since college. On the positive side, it's J.J. Redick, hands down. He was public enemy number one as a smug-looking white sharpshooter from Duke, and hating him was basically a national sport. Now? After a long and fruitful career, people are starting to realize he's actually an awesome and thoughtful dude (and his podcast is great). It's a complete restoration, and a surprising one. Kyrie Irving is the flipside. Despite going to Duke, he was still cool as hell, and then in the early stage of his career he had the Uncle Drew thing going and was generally beloved.

Now? Now the dude won't even suit up for his team, and for the longest time, nobody seemed to know why. Recently, it has emerged that he's just mad:

That's shockingly unprofessional, feels very Harden-like (except more extreme), and the peripheral stuff isn't great either. Like Harden, he showed up to a big party without a protective mask, and he's also probably a flat-earther. That stuff might be unimportant on a team with great chemistry, but—massive understatement—that is not the case in Brooklyn.

To summarize, you have one star (Irving) who has a frosty relationship with his superstar teammate (Durant) and is currently on strike because he wants more power in the organization, and an incoming star (Harden) who famously sabotages his own star teammates and also loves to hold his franchise hostage. And all of them need the ball too much, making the concept of chemistry a bad joke.

Ohhhhhhh my friends, these guys SUCK. 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.

American basketball fans, the bat signal is in the sky: It's time to get your hate on.