The Brooklyn Nets: What Can Go Wrong Will Go Wrong


In the 2019-2020 NBA offseason, the Brooklyn Nets signed two superstars in Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. They were expected to run the league for years after Durant came back from being injured. Expectations got even higher when the Nets traded for another superstar in James Harden in 2021. After the Harden trade, whatever could go wrong went horrifically wrong.

Let’s start in 2021 as 2020 was a lost year since Durant was out for the whole season. But starting in 2021 when Irving and Durant were both going to be on the court, they were supposed to be the most dominant team in the league. Then they made the ultimate power move to trade for James Harden.

But this in hindsight was the beginning of the end. Irving, Harden, and Durant barely played together in 2021 as they were ravaged by injuries. They still managed to get the 2nd seed in the East, and when the big three of Irving, Harden, and Durant played, they absolutely dominated. In their 1st round series against the Celtics, the Nets crushed them in every way. They showed their potential as one of the best offenses of all time, and they seemed destined for the championship.

Then came their 2nd round series against the Bucks, and immediately things went horribly wrong. James Harden injured his hamstring minutes into game 1. The Nets still took a 2-0 lead but when the series shifted to Milwaukee; the Bucks returned the favor tying the series 2-2. The Nets suffered a devastating setback in game 4 in a blowout loss with Kyrie Irving injuring his hand; he would not return in the series.

Because of the injury to Irving, the Nets hurried Harden back on the court when he was clearly not 100%. But the Nets still won game 5 as Kevin Durant put on one of the best playoff performances of all time, putting up a 49-point triple double. Durant had to literally play every single minute in the game for the Nets to win. In game 6 the Bucks dominated and forced a game 7. And then the Nets lost to the Bucks in game 7 in heartbreaking fashion. Down by 2, Durant hit a tough jumper but his foot was on the 3-point line so it only tied the game. This led to overtime in which the Bucks closed out the game.

There was still lots of hope for Brooklyn for next year; they still have 3 of the best players in the league. However, things went south. Barclays Center, the Nets’ home stadium, had a vaccine mandate. Kyrie Irving refused to get vaccinated so he could not play in home games. The Nets suspended him until he got vaccinated. This led to a poor start as Kevin Durant basically had to do everything as James Harden also had a very slow start. Eventually the Nets lifted the suspension on Irving and it looked like the vaccine mandate would get lifted soon.

Just as something went right, other things went wrong. Kevin Durant got hurt and was going to be out for a month. More significantly, James Harden wanted out. The Nets gave up a lot for James Harden just a year ago; they gave up their entire future for him. And now he wanted out. If they didn’t trade him, they risked him walking out for nothing in free agency. So they pulled the trigger on a trade sending Harden to the Philadelphia 76ers for Ben Simmons and some role players.

If you read my article on Ben Simmons, you would know that Simmons is the definition of disappointing. He lived up to that by not playing a single game for the Nets that season. When Durant came back, the Nets squeaked into the playoffs, only to get absolutely demolished in a 1st round rematch against the Celtics.

Going into the next season, there was still hope. They still had Durant and Irving and Simmons could possibly be the player Brooklyn needed. But of course, nothing went right. In the offseason, Durant requested a trade, which stirred up a hellstorm in the league. This didn’t go anywhere as Durant in the end opted to stay. But even with that sigh of relief, the Nets’ start to the season was less than ideal.

Ben Simmons got off to a pathetic start, and Kyrie Irving promoted an anti-Semitic film which put him under immense fire and got him suspended. Head coach Steve Nash also got fired. The Nets are right now 6-9 and the 12th seed in the East. What seemed like a sure era of dominance for Brooklyn, crashed and burned in a matter of 2 years. They could still turn it around, but more than a miracle is needed.