Kevin Durant and (Possibly) the Greatest Basketball Team of All Time

The finest of the three superstars, nevertheless, is Kevin Durant. Durant is almost seven ft tall, and he shoots 30-footers as if they are layups, and if any participant has ever regarded extra pure or swish on a basketball court docket, I’ve by no means seen him. Durant’s keynote is ease. He strikes with a pure, unforced financial system of movement, a frictionless glide, that makes him look virtually detached to the motion round him. He seems so elemental on a basketball court docket that you simply virtually look forward to finding him talked about in James Naismith’s 13 authentic guidelines for the recreation. (8. A objective shall be made when the ball is thrown or batted from the grounds into the basket — additionally sometime there will probably be a person named Kevin Durant, he’ll completely categorical how this recreation is meant to look, he will get it higher than I do, I’m simply writing all these items down so the recreation exists when he comes alongside.) Durant has been so good, so constantly, for thus lengthy that the largest drama surrounding his profession has at all times been the place he chooses to play. When he decides to depart a franchise, it feels type of like discovering out that the Grand Canyon has determined to maneuver to Sweden.

In conclusion, every of the Nets’ three superstars makes you shake your head and say “wow,” however in a completely totally different means. For Irving, the wow means: I can not imagine he simply pulled that transfer off. For Harden, it means: I can not imagine that that man proper there simply did all of that to all these different guys, what is occurring, are all of us on some form of prank present? For Durant, the wow is the similar wow you say if you see the ocean for the first time or look right into a volcano — it’s the wow of the elegant, of witnessing a drive so stunning and grand and elegant and easy and pure and enduring that it makes you’re feeling, in contrast, small and lumpy and clumsy and gentle. And but, you’d by no means select not to have a look at it if you happen to may.

Could the Brooklyn Nets experiment probably work? The Nets’ three superstars are all basketball geniuses, however they’ll all even be described, fairly pretty, as “moody.” Each one, in his personal particular means, has managed to depart a path of drama and destruction in the wake of an in any other case illustrious profession: jilted former groups, on-court tantrums, P.R. blunders, playoff flameouts. As younger teammates in Oklahoma City, Durant and Harden as soon as obtained so heated in follow that they needed to be separated — and weeks later Harden, who had grown drained of enjoying in the shadow of famous person teammates, was traded to Houston. Kyrie Irving, in the meantime, gained a championship in Cleveland with LeBron James however then requested a commerce. The Boston Celtics welcomed him as a conquering hero, and he reciprocated the love (“If you guys will have me back, I plan on re-signing here”), till all of a sudden he didn’t. After months of bickering and drama and passive-aggressive quotes and Instagram essays with bizarre capitalization, Irving left Boston, to a refrain of jeers, to affix Durant in Brooklyn. Back in Houston, Harden, who had established himself over eight seasons as a famous person, pressured the commerce that might permit him to affix the enjoyable in Brooklyn, too.

It can be laborious to assemble a extra eccentric trio. Irving as soon as steered that the earth was flat, and then when everybody went loopy tried to say that he stated it solely to make everybody go loopy. (“It was all an exploitation tactic. It literally spun the world, your guys’ world, it spun it into a frenzy and proved exactly what I thought it would do in terms of how all this works.”) James Harden partied maskless in Las Vegas throughout the pandemic and then shuffled his means by precise skilled video games with the effort of a teenage boy unloading a dishwasher at 6 a.m. Ok.D. obtained himself in bother on Twitter and then in additional bother on Twitter.

How may these three gamers, with their infinity of moods, probably coexist? Especially by the unstable, gossipy, drama-filled grind of an N.B.A. season? Especially when something lower than a championship can be seen as an embarrassing failure? Especially in a wild, compressed pandemic season by which regular chemistry-building workout routines (crew meals, hangouts, practices) had been largely not possible? Even in the finest circumstances, moods are unpredictable. As Ralph Waldo Emerson as soon as put it, “Our moods do not believe in each other.”

As it turns out, the superstars hardly obtained an opportunity to coexist in any respect. This season gave the impression to be cursed. Brooklyn’s Big three performed collectively, all yr, for less than about 200 minutes. It was an limitless collection of minor accidents and misunderstandings and unsynced timelines. Kyrie Irving disappeared for some time, mysteriously lacking seven video games for what the Nets referred to as “personal reasons.” (The gossip flying round the media part of Barclays Center would have singed your eyebrows off.) Kevin Durant obtained swallowed, as who amongst us has not been, by well being and security protocols — “Free me,” he tweeted, virally — and then tweaked his left hamstring, and what was imagined to be a brief absence became almost two months, 23 straight Durant-less video games — and then simply earlier than he got here again, James Harden, who doesn’t get injured, obtained injured. Then Durant obtained kneed very laborious in the thigh, proper in his Rick James tattoo, and Irving obtained hit in the face, and the season was all of a sudden over.

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