Strip Clubs, Burner Accounts, and Flat Earthers: Will The NBA’s Latest Super Team Work?
“My kinda team, Charlie, my kinda team.”- Coach Lou Brown, Major League
I don’t know if there will be a more fun team than the Brooklyn Nets following this James Harden trade. Their Big Three looks like the cast of that Will Ferrell basketball movie Semi-Pro, but instead of André 3000 and Woody Harrelson running the floor, the Nets have a guy with a Twitter burner account who has been called a “snake” for joining an already established dynasty, a dude who has a legendary beard and strip club/buffet addiction, and a Flat-Earther who doesn’t think twice about losing $815k per game because he wanted to party maskless at his sister’s birthday party.
The only question is, where is Jackie Moon?
Brooklyn Nets: The NBA’s Latest Super Team
In today’s NBA, the cycle moves extremely quickly. A player arrives in the league, either flames out, ages into a decent role player, or becomes a superstar – and is then traded all over the league until they luck into playing on the ultimate super team and winning an NBA title or two. The last homegrown team to have won a title was arguably the Toronto Raptors – even though Kawhi Leonard’s quick stopover helped immensely – but other than that… you NEED to craft a super squad full of All-Stars to win the big one these days.
So, even though they already had two future Hall of Famers with KD and Kyrie, the puzzle wasn’t quite complete yet in Brooklyn. Enter James Harden, who a few days ago looked like a well-fed mariachi player in his Rockets uniform, only to show up in Brooklyn days later and have everybody penciling the Nets into the Eastern Conference Finals.
A Complex Chemistry Equation
Ehh, not so fast. Chemistry is a huge part of basketball, as we have seen time and time again. Just because you may be the best at your certain position, there is no guarantee that you are going to coast to an NBA Finals title like the 2020 Super Team Lakers or stumble towards being swept in the NBA Finals like the 2004 Super Team Lakers.
Watching the first game where Harden and Durant shared the court together on Saturday, the Beard seemed like he wanted to be more of a facilitator than a scorer and just let the points come to him. It was a nice sentiment, but I don’t know if I can see this continuing throughout the season. He wanted to make a first impression - and certainly did with his 32 points, 12 rebounds, and 14 assists triple-double. But when Kyrie comes back, it must be noted that Brooklyn is officially a three-headed monster. Of course, there is only one ball. The concern here comes when other players become reticent to take shots. With KD and Harden on your team, why should Landry Shamet or Jeff Green even attempt any open shots with two killers hanging around the perimeter?
What's Going on With Kyrie?
Harden’s training regime is extremely enviable, as we watched as he went to Vegas, partied his ass off, called it training, and returned to put up more than 40 points and drop 17 dimes in his debut this season. When he wants to play, he can play. Same with Kyrie, but he seems more interested in using his fame and platform for social reform – which is respectable, but not exactly helpful to the Nets right now. All I can say is, use your power any way you want – I support Kyrie Irving – but this sort of thing becomes a distraction. If you can balance it easily like LeBron can, go forth young man. The minute you miss five games because of it and have Stephen A. Smith calling for your retirement, maybe it’s time to take a deeper look at your behavior.
It’s like drinking. I love drinking. But if I missed five days of work because I was drinking and wanted to only be drinking because it would make a change in the world, I might consider stopping drinking. And I don’t make $20 million a year. I barely make $14 million…
The Dynasty That Never Was
Let’s rewind for a second to the “Dynasty that Never Was.” Yes, the KD/Westbrook/Harden OKC Thunder of the early 2010s. People can’t fathom how this team didn’t win multiple titles. Three MVPs on a team should mean more titles than an Oklahoma City DMV. But lo and behold, there were max contracts, luxury taxes, and owners making snap decisions. Eventually, the trio broke up, coming to a head when Enes Kanter looked like he was going to castrate Durant after a Thunder-Warriors game and force-feed him his testicles. (Enes Kanter is a scary dude.)
Now, those three Thunder superstars have been “building blocks” for super teams all across the NBA for the past seven years. So let’s see how it has all worked out with each player leading his own franchise:
Harden + CP3: Almost worked. (Paul’s injury let the Warriors get back to the Finals in Game 7 of the 2018 WCF.)
Harden + Westbrook: Didn’t even come close to working.
Harden + Wall: We will never know if this would have worked… James Harden gave it 9 games.
KD + Westbrook: Almost worked, until they blew a 3-1 lead to the Warriors.
KD + Steph + Klay + Draymond: Worked… until it didn’t work after a while.
Westbrook + Role Players: Russ averaged a triple-double when he was the guy in OKC, but they never won a playoff series. Didn’t really work.
Westbrook + Beal: Remains to be seen, but not great so far.
To this day, KD is the only guy who has won an NBA title from that original Thunder team, and he had to join a super team to do it. Harden is taking a page out of KD’s book by teaming up with KD and Kyrie, who’s won a championship with LeBron in Cleveland, but failed to mesh with Tatum and the other young guns in Boston. Listen, I ain’t mad at Harden. Well, maybe just a little.
The Biggest Issue With the NBA Super Teams
My issue is not with the Nets' seemingly unfair lineup. I have come to accept the NBA super team as part of the game. I just love that these three distinct personalities are sharing the spotlight in Brooklyn. It’s a perfect opportunity for the smaller borough to overtake the heart of Gotham basketball from die-hard, frustrated Knicks fans. (Can this happen? Doubtful. New York has too much pride, whereas in LA four years ago, 75 percent of upset Lakers fans were suddenly claiming allegiance to the “Lob City Clippers.”)
No. My main issue with today’s “win now or die” NBA is with how many basketball jerseys I have been shelling out mad cash for lately. Not for myself, but for my 14-year-old son. In the past three years, I have bought him a Shai Gilgeous-Alexander Clippers jersey, a Brandon Ingram Lakers jersey, a Gordon Hayward Celtics jersey, an Anthony Davis Pelicans jersey, and – yep – a James Harden Rockets jersey. All worthless. A few days ago, I noticed that a Houston area car wash was offering free scrub downs to anybody trading in their Harden jerseys. Hundreds of scorned fans who had counted on the Beard to take their beloved city to an NBA Championship these past nine seasons tossed their prized #13 items into a trash can and had their cars washed for free… I almost drove to Houston JUST to take advantage of this offer.
So…Will It Work?
Will this work? My guess is that it will. Once these dudes start playing together – assuming Kyrie doesn’t just up and retire – we should see a LeBron/Davis vs. KD/Harden/Kyrie NBA Finals. Five Hall of Famers battling for one ring. That’s the NBA I’d like to see. The best players playing on the biggest stage. The NBA Finals should be as exciting as they’ve been in a very long time this year. My only concern is that my son may want me to buy him a Kevin Durant Brooklyn Nets jersey in the next couple of months.
And there is no way I’m driving to Brooklyn for a free car wash next year...