Goran Dragic – chasing a higher ambition – signed with the Nets after a buyout last season. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving gave Brooklyn championship upside, and Dragic provided a boost in the backcourt.
The Nets got swept in the first round.
Dragic, who has since signed with the Bulls, explained his experience in Brooklyn.
Dragić says he already wanted to sign with Chicago last year, but things went different & he signed with the Nets: “It is what it is”.
He said he played with KD and Kyrie, and added: “It was quite hard, because it wasn’t about the team, but more about individual performances.” pic.twitter.com/FtMiJ7GIhC
— SLO HOOPS FAN 🇸🇮 (@SloHoopsFan) July 13, 2022
I’m always leery of trusting translations, especially on a topic this sensitive. Dragic’s words might not have sounded so harsh in their original Slovenian.
But this would fit a pattern.
A former Celtics teammate once ripped Irving: “He’s hard to play with. It’s all about him.” Irving missing games because he refused to get vaccinated last season was a glaring example of a player putting himself ahead of team success. (Worth saying because it’s too often forgotten: Some things should be more important than winning basketball games. Not putting the team first is not necessarily a moral failing. You can debate the merits of choosing not to get vaccinated, vaccine mandates, etc. But there’s no question Irving prioritized things other than the success of the Nets.)
Durant has long sounded like he’s more concerned with mastering basketball as collection of individual skills than winning. Obviously, those things overlap. The more skilled he is, the more Durant can help his team win. But he hasn’t always seemed consumed with winning for the sake of winning.
In the end, the Nets’ culture got derailed while they catered to these stars. Whatever they were trying to accomplish, Durant and Irving didn’t bring team success. Durant has requested a trade. Irving remains in limbo.
And Dragic sounds happy to be elsewhere.