The current Brooklyn Nets superteam was many people's favorite to win the NBA championship. A lot of that was due to the James Harden trade, and three superstar players playing on one team. However, the Brooklyn Nets team was planned far before that.
Matt Sullivan has recently revealed the origin story for the current Brooklyn Nets team. Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant's friendship has been talked about a lot as a factor in their decision, and Sullivan reported on the specifics of how the idea of teaming up in Brooklyn came about ahead of their 2019 free agency decision.
Kyrie Irving invited his old friend Kevin Durant for dinner at his mansion, a seven-bedroom spread in the woods of suburban Boston that did not feel particularly lived in. This was the night before the two-time defending-champion Warriors played the Celtics on network television, and Kyrie was battling the flu. That didn’t stop the wine from flowing, because Kyrie was a gracious host — Michael B. Jordan planned to stop by when he was in town — and nothing could stop Kyrie from getting what he wanted, which was to move the hell out.
By the time KD arrived at his temporary mansion for their unfinished business, Kyrie had grown sick of creating a social distance from Celtics teammates for days at a time or else, as he was that month in January 2019, pointing fingers at them in public, especially around a loss in Brooklyn. He’d tried to stop internalizing the media’s misperception of his ego. He’d tried to be more present for his three-year-old daughter. To treat his job like a job. But self-care could begin professionally, on his own terms. He’d been charting a path home, by way of his boyhood team: the Nets.
It seems as though Kyrie Irving wanted to be in Brooklyn even during his tenure with the Boston Celtics, and that his situation led him to long for playing for his boyhood team. According to Sullivan, Kevin Durant didn't necessarily like his situation with the Golden State Warriors either.
Going home and doing good had lingered in Kyrie’s mind, and the Brooklyn Nets were a team he and KD could manipulate — two max-salary slots, a flexible general manager, a few pieces, maybe even some room for their friend DeAndre Jordan — while Kyrie built a house in Jersey for his daughter, and perhaps more children yet, to grow up in. KD told a confidant that he didn’t think the Warriors would get any better if Steve Kerr couldn’t hold Draymond Green accountable for his outbursts, and that he was occasionally irked when Steph got so much attention from the media and from the fans. Kyrie and KD, on the cusp of their free agency, shared a loner’s longing to settle down but look straight ahead.
"He didn’t like what his situation was," KD later said, "and me either in Golden State. And it was just like, ‘Hey, man, let’s just see how this would work. Let’s try it out.’ And DJ wanted to play with us to be that center for us that can kinda hold it down, and play for something, really — play for a team that’s going somewhere, not just keep moving around and bouncing around to leave."
KD would follow Kyrie’s lead. That night in the suburbs, he even ate a vegan burger for the first time. "I could f--- with this," he said. A super-team was starting to be formed, over a side of kale salad and... clink.
While there was a lot of speculation on Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant's destination during the 2019 free agency, it seems as though Irving's heart was always set on playing for the Brooklyn Nets, rather than the New York Knicks as many had speculated. Sullivan highlights a moment that Kyrie Irving shared with his former principal while the questions around his free agency period loomed.
"Still," Principal Hush reminded his famous alum, "there’s a lahhhhhhtta talk..."
The reverb surrounding the school, out there in the humming echo of sport, was as infuriating as it had become impossible to ignore. LeBron "likes" Kyrie in a Lakers jersey, offered SportsCenter’s analysis on Twitter, about a post on Instagram. On the radio, pundits were closing in on Kyrie’s destination: It’s going to be in New York — and whether it’s going to be the Knicks or the Nets remains to be seen. On TV: When you start to connect the dots, it says Nets. But... REALLY?
"Lahhhhhhtta options," Principal Hush continued.
Kyrie looked up behind the principal’s desk, at portraits of Obama and MLK, and looked his elder in the all-seeing eye.
"I’m comin’ home."
"Aight!" Principal Hush called out, already beginning to ask himself the obvious next question: Which home? Madison Square Garden, with the Knicks? Or Barclays Center, in Brooklyn? He left his curiosity at a piqued eyebrow and led the graduate to the court. Kyrie’s mission in visiting here, besides the walk down memory lane, was to make sure he could use the school gym in a month or so, for a celebration with his friends, alongside dignitaries from his new team — whichever uniform its players might wear — including Jay-Z, the boss of his new agency, who’d just been named the first billionaire rapper. Kyrie wanted to mark the moment, for himself and for his 13 million followers, with a carefully orchestrated act of authenticity.
"Oh," Kyrie said on his way out, "I’ll be wearing all-black."
It looks as if Kevin Durant also preferred the Brooklyn Nets as a franchise over the New York Knicks. The article describes Kevin Durant's decision process after he suffered his Achilles injury with the Golden State Warriors, and how he ended up deciding on the Brooklyn Nets.
The good news was that he didn’t have blood clots after all. And he had much bigger repercussions to worry about: Free agency would begin, at least officially, in two weeks or so, at the end of June.
Since January, KD and Kyrie had been talking seriously about teaming up in Brooklyn. After months of lobbying for KD to take his talents to BK, too, Kyrie was furious that Golden State had placed KD "on a national stage to end up selling a product that came before the person." Kyrie felt he had been forced to play through pain in the 2015 Finals and put at risk by Cleveland’s staff, and he was — if not entirely distrustful of all traditional corporate systems — certainly protective of his best basketball friend.
As the summer of 2019 and his thirty-first birthday approached, KD told his agent and business partner, Rich Kleiman, that he didn’t want free-agency PowerPoints like LeBron had welcomed in 2010. He didn’t need the courtships that he and Rich had sat through, holed up in the Hamptons in 2016, on the way out of OKC. He understood that Kyrie was coming home to his childhood team, and for the first time in their careers, KD and Kyrie felt the employee-employer power dynamic recalibrated toward something closer to fair.
KD texted his dad: What you think about Brooklyn?
Let me explain one f---ing thing to you, his dad responded. Don’t you ever question my integrity. There’s nobody more important in this world when it comes to you THAN YOU.
Well, why can’t I do something different?
The Knicks is Mecca, KD’s dad proclaimed. If you want to do it, do it big! If you want to be a New Yorker, be a Knick!
New York City was the Mecca of basketball, and KD wanted to live there. But he felt like Brooklyn was his vibe: "chill, on the low, all-black everything." He’d been eyeing the Nets for years now, and they him.
Dad shot back: Are you doing this just for Kyrie cuz he your buddy?
No, KD replied. He was making this decision for himself.
Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving were heavily linked to the New York Knicks by many media personalities, but at the end of the day, they ended up choosing the Brooklyn Nets. They have taken that franchise in a new direction, and the franchise is finally winning once again with both of them present. Any team with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant on the roster will be a contender, and the Brooklyn Nets have built up the foundation for that team to be them.