The Boston Celtics sweep the Brooklyn Nets out the door


Kevin Durant's season ended far too soon for anyone in Brooklyn to be happy.

Kevin Durant’s season ended far too soon for anyone in Brooklyn to be happy.
picture: Getty Images

And with that ends another attempt by the Brooklyn Nets to jump the line and crash into the NBA Penthouse. Actually, “another Nets experiment” sounds a bit more appropriate. Because the Nets, the Brooklyn version, have always felt like one.

They’ve been in Brooklyn for a decade now, and moving from New Jersey and then leading the team has always felt like a team trying to become a milestone in the NBA franchise in the blink of an eye. Which isn’t really possible, but the Nets sure thought it was. Maybe it was a ploy to capitalize on any leftover nostalgia for the Dodgers, even if every Brooklyn Dodgers fan is dead. All the while trying to capitalize on Brooklyn’s nouveau riche status today, which is in direct contrast to this whole Dodgers thing. But these were the networks, constantly trying out whatever didn’t add up, clinging to a relevance that few achieve and most don’t deserve.

There was an opening in NYC thanks to the Knicks’ lack of luck, which essentially lasted throughout the 2000s. Except that somehow the Knicks are still one of the few seminal teams in the league. It’s not a mark to be washed away, and the Knicks have tried harder and better than anyone (OK, maybe the Bulls did). But the Nets actually did all the trades and signings that the Knicks said they would but couldn’t. No trick worked much.

Remember when it was Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Deron Williams? They were too old or too injured or both to ever see past the second round. And then it was this current experiment, Kyrie, Durant, and first Harden, and then some guy no one can find, put in the tank, locked the door, shook everything to see what’s going to come out. I still haven’t seen a conference finals or even a team that’s ever been together or watched that entertaining. It was just mud. Talented slick, sure, but slick nonetheless.

I think it’s pretty fitting for Brooklyn as a whole to say and feel like you’re part of all that New York is, while having a lot of it across the river. This Nets experiment even has the Brooklyn staples of a guy who’s only too happy to tell you everything he knows about everything when it turns out he doesn’t know anything about everything.

It doesn’t become an in-game signature name by simply saying you are now. This is where the Heat got everyone hooked by the gathering of Wade, LeBron and Bosh, except afterward they felt more than comfortable returning to the Heat art and culture. It was always the exception and not the rule.

You can be a great team, you can even be a dynasty without being a member of the long-running glitterati. But the networks always seemed to be after more.

Whatever glitz and splash was out there, the Nets did it with an unmistakable look of desperation to be taken seriously. That included signing Durant knowing he would miss an entire season, and yet all of his achievements remain with teams that would have won anyway without him. It pivoted for Kyrie and Harden, then moved on from Harden at the first sign of trouble. Hiring Steve Nash as coach because it sounded like something.

Again, you cannot jump the line and you cannot run from who you are. The Nets are the guy who tells you they can get you into the club and that they know the DJ and the owner, and yet the bouncer still looks at them blankly when they actually try. You can’t just move in from Jersey and claim you’re the center of the earth, although about half of the state’s residents will certainly try at some point in their lives.

Once you’re the Jets or Mets, you’re the Jets or Mets down the line. Fuck, Nets even rhymes. You’re second rate, you’re the stepchild, you’re the other. At least the other two have made that part of their identity. Deny the networks. The islanders struck out and quickly realized where this path was leading and returned to where they belonged (a true New York experience). The devils had the right idea. Move deeper into New Jersey and enjoy the 10,000 AJ Sopranos coming to your games.

The Nets have been trying to pull on Dad’s suit for 10 years and keep stumbling over it. It won’t fit. And not being a father is okay. They’re going to do that again next year, and if Durant and Kyrie can’t go supernova at the same time for two months and they ask Steve Nash what his plan B is, and his look on his face will be, “B? Plan?”, we’ll be back here. It’s just not what you are, Nets.

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