Editor’s Column: The Brooklyn Nets Are a Failure

Aaron Notis, Copy Editor

I discovered basketball by accident.

I was seven years old and the only sport on my mind was baseball. Year-round, I would watch as the Yankees defeated everyone in their path and then pay their way back to the top. The Yankees-Entertainment-Sports (YES) Network was one of the only channels watched. No matter the time of year, I would turn to YES to get my Yankees content and feed this childhood obsession with baseball.

One cold, January evening, I switched over to YES expecting to see another episode of “Yankees on Deck” and maybe learn about the eccentric Joba Chamberlain. What I arrived at was a New Jersey Nets basketball game. Confused, I watched, fascinated by the pace and movement of the sport. Although the Nets were terrible, I was hooked. I was from that point on a New Jersey Nets fan, a decision that has haunted me since that day. 

Then they moved to Brooklyn. The now Brooklyn Nets left me without this childhood curiosity and joy for basketball, making the team and the sport unwatchable. I watched the Nets struggle through terrible rosters, trading over-aged superstars, running efficient rebuilds and signing superstars to max contracts. At this point in Nets’ history, they probably should have won a title. The summer 2019 signings of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving were supposed to be the turning point — the light at the end of the dark tunnel that is Nets fandom. Now, following the Nov. 1 firing of head coach Steve Nash, the team’s response to Irving’s hateful promotion and the potential hiring of suspended Celtics head coach Ime Udoke, the Nets are demonstrating the problems associated with inept leadership and a lack of accountability.

Kyrie Irving’s recent tweets promoting “Hebrew to Negroes: Wake Up Black America” — a 2018 film with strong, hateful, anti-semitic propaganda that supports the myth that the Holocaust never happened — are particularly sour considering the location of his employment. According to the Jewish Agency for Israel, Jews make up 0.2 percent of the global population. More than one million reside in New York City and, per the New York Times, roughly 60 percent live in Brooklyn. Irving made these comments and then proceeded to play basketball the next day in a significantly Jewish community.

Irving’s comments, and his reluctance to apologize for them, are unacceptable. The Nets gave Irving every opportunity to walk back his comments. After the Nets forced a meeting between Irving and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Irving, according to NBA insider Stefan Bondy, bailed, sending his father and stepmother — who doubles as his agent — in his place.

Irving is 30 years old. He is an adult. And he sent his parents to meet with the ADL. Hate of any kind should cause a player to be out of the league. However, Irving, an immensely talented basketball player, is being given another chance. According to NBA insider Shams Charania, the Nets are laying out the steps for Irving to get out of his suspension. He’s to follow step-by-step instructions to play basketball in Brooklyn again. Like he’s a child. The Nets have struggled to gain and retain fans for the entirety of their existence. Moving to Brooklyn, the Nets were hoping to radicalize a historic basketball community and establish a fanbase to support the franchise. This treatment of Irving aptly reflects the lack of identity the Nets feel within Brooklyn.

After the firing of Nash, the first rumored candidate to replace him was Boston Celtics head coach Ime Udoka, who spent the 2020-2021 season with the Nets as an assistant on Nash’s staff. After leading the Celtics to the finals last season, Udoka now faces a team-issued year-long suspension for workplace misconduct and unwanted comments toward female employees. In the midst of a forest fire, the Nets wanted to hire this guy? Yes, he’s familiar with the system. But he brings overweight luggage in the form of more issues than the Nets can manage, all while potentially ruining the workplace environment within the franchise. After all, who would want to work with someone who’s suspended for workplace misconduct and harassment of any form? Hopefully, this hire never happens.

Now, to the entire reason the Brooklyn Nets organization exists: basketball. They’re playing poorly. Recent acquisition Ben Simmons does not look comfortable on a basketball court, constantly passing up open layups and refusing to drive to the basket. And Simmons seems to be the only player who knows how or when to pass the ball, even if he can’t actually shoot hoops. Per the NBA, the Nets are 21st in defensive rating, and that horrible ranking is obvious when watching five minutes of Nets basketball. Nobody is trying to win. The play looks disastrous.

Since Irving’s suspension, the Nets started to gel under interim head coach Jacque Vaughn, winning a back-to-back against the Washington Wizards and the Charlotte Hornets. The Nets probably aren’t contenders for a championship. They paid so much money to create a competitive team and are a complete failure. This was the one situation where money was supposed to buy every Nets fan’s happiness. I may have fallen into Nets fandom by accident, but I’m stuck with it. Now, as I watch this soulless team trot down the court for 48 minutes a night giving a detached, heartless effort on both ends of the court, I wonder “Why isn’t baseball a year-round sport?”.