Ever since the Brooklyn Nets traded James Harden to the Philadelphia 76ers earlier this year, unintentionally breaking up one of the most promising trios in recent NBA history, they seem to be cursed. At the start of the 2021-2022 season, fully utilizing the trifecta that was Harden, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, they were 10-1 in their first 11 games, but were unable to solidify their standings. A few tough losses landed them 7th place overall in the Eastern Conference by June, but the story of the triumphant three musketeers certainly did not have to end there. The Nets franchise thought otherwise.
Since trading Harden, both the Nets and the players themselves have been acting strangely; their second stop on the highway-to-hell was on Oct. 27, when Kyrie Irving tweeted a link to a film that has blatant antisemitic undertones. The movie, entitled “Hebrew to Negroes: Wake Up Black America,” contains harsh stereotypes and discredits the very real and very tragic event that was the Holocaust. The next day, in a karmic twist of fate, Rolling Stone magazine jumped quickly onto Irving’s case, writing an article connecting the dots between his tweet and the crude depictions in the movie. Social media was soon to follow on the trend of canceling Irving for his assumed antisemitism.
Though the tweet was deleted on Oct. 30, Irving made a public statement on Nov. 2 which said that he “opposes all forms of hatred and oppression and stands strong with communities that are marginalized and impacted every day.” He promised to donate $500,000 to groups that work to eradicate antisemitism, but that still wasn’t enough for the public and the NBA. On Nov. 3, the Nets indefinitely suspended Irving from the team, claiming that he was “unfit to be a part of the team.” He is definitely suspended for at least five games, meaning that the Nets will be without their golden boy as they continue to struggle in the beginning of this 2022-2023 season.
For whatever reason, Kyrie’s reckless post didn’t cause enough negative press for the Nets, so they decided to create some more. After a rocky 2-5 start earlier this month, the Nets made a hasty decision to fire head coach, Steve Nash. That was not necessarily the issue in this situation, since they had made a questionable decision to hire him in the first place considering the fact that he has never coached professional basketball before. The Nets also received some backlash upon hiring Nash; social media was quick as usual to point out the racial tinge of the decision, claiming that hiring an inexperienced, white coach was discriminatory since he was chosen over an ample amount of overly-qualified Black coaches.
The real issue of firing their head coach was who they were considering to fill his shoes. Yesterday, on Nov. 9, the Nets officially announced Jacque Vaughn as their new head coach. Earlier this week, however, it seemed that they were favoring Ime Udoka for the position regardless of the fact that he was suspended from the Boston Celtics as their head coach not even six months ago for engaging in sexual misconduct with a female staff member. Jacque Vaughn was the better option, so it is clear that the Nets made the right choice in the end, but it was the fact that they were thinking about hiring Udoka that sparked outrage from the public. After being in heat about the antisemetic comments that Irving made, to not be more considerate of the female population of the NBA staff was insensitive, untimely and ultimately arrogant.
The Nets seemed to have summoned some demons that are following them into this current season. If they are unable to break this curse, it is quite possible that they are going to disappoint again come championship time in June. It’s up to them how they want to handle the rest of the season; they are on thin ice.