Media Day — arguably the most boring and tedious day on the NBA calendar — was anything but in Brooklyn.
After a summer Kyrie Irving admitted was “very awkward” — where both he and Kevin Durant pushed to be traded, and Durant threw down an ultimatum saying it was him or coach Steve Nash and GM Sean Marks — everyone was back under one roof and trying to stay on message about just wanting to win.
But drama will follow this team like a dark cloud until they force the conversation to be about something else. Like how many games they are winning.
Until then, the awkward questions and moments will come. For example, why did Kevin Durant ask for a trade this summer? What did he want to see changed? He talked about the team feeling unstable last season. Which it was (for a variety of reasons).
“My whole thing was, I wanted everybody to be held accountable for their habits as a basketball player. I think a lot of stuff was getting swept under the rug because we’re injured or this guy’s not around or just the circumstances. I thought we could have fought through that a little bit more and focused on the guys that were here a little bit more.
“You know, when I went out with the injury, we lost 10 in a row. And I’m like, we shouldn’t be losing some of these games that we lost, regardless of who’s on the floor. So I was more so worried about how we’re approaching every day as a basketball team. And I felt like we could have fought through a lot of the stuff that I felt that held us back.”
Those are the best, drama-free answers he could give. But Durant still loves to stir the pot on Twitter and did so later in the day.
(That was the question asked boiled way down, but both the question and Durant’s answer had a lot more context, it was not a confrontational answer in the moment.)
Kyrie Irving said there were options for him this summer, although limited ones, because he is unvaccinated. He also talked about the reasons he wanted to return to the Nets.
Marks handled the inevitable “your star wanted you fired” questions as well as he could, saying at one point “that’s pro sports.”
“Everybody’s entitled to their opinions and I think from us, it’s not to hold a grudge against what Kevin said, but it’s a little bit of saying, ‘All right, if that’s the way he feels, what’s going on here?’ Like, what do we need to change?” Marks said.
In the end, everyone talked about moving on and the potential for this roster. Durant is not disappointed to be back.
“I wasn’t disappointed. I still love to play. I knew that wasn’t going to get affected regardless of what happened this summer,” Durant said.
The Nets have the talent on the roster to be title contenders, but have more questions than any other team at that level after the past couple of years: Can Durant stay healthy? Will Irving be focused and committed for an entire season? How does Ben Simmons fit in and what is his role? Can their thin frontcourt hold up? Will they play enough defense? Is Steve Nash up to the task? Does this team have the will and drive to be contenders?
Playing through the drama is the only way to answer all those questions, but if they do this team could be a powerhouse.