A little history lesson, boys and girls, so get out your laptops, iPads or black composition notebooks as we take a stroll down memory lane, revisit things from the past... and learn about the future ... maybe. We will also delve into political science.
One of the Nets insiders who played a role in recruiting Kevin Durant said of the superstar that he’s ALL about playing basketball. He doesn’t like distractions from improving his craft, from winning.
So, his comments on not being selected as part of the 2008 Redeem Team, part of an ESPN documentary on the gold medal-winning Olympians, shouldn’t surprise. He wanted a berth and didn’t get one. It pissed him off as he told the network... Still does.
“I was disappointed not making the  Olympic team. I felt I played my way onto the team. Nobody really expected me to play that well in the practices, but I was 19 and I felt like I got snubbed. I felt disrespected, and I was like, ‘Nah, this can’t go down like that. It’s not happening again.’ I was just so upset that I wasn’t part of the Redeem Team. You could tell those guys had so much fun playing with each other and I wanted that even if I was on the bench. I just wanted to learn, soak that energy up from those guys.”
So KD went out and first won gold in the 2010 FIBA World Cup, then picked up Olympic golds in 2012 and 2016, posting the two best scoring averages any American ever put up in the Olympics.
Other than LeBron James, he’s the only player in the world who’s won multiple Olympic golds and NBA rings. Add World Cup gold and he’s unique.
Back in 2008, Durant was 19 and coming off his Rookie of the Year campaign in Seattle. He was beaten out by Michael Redd and Tayshaun Prince (Really).
So what’s the point here? Kevin Durant doesn’t forget. It’s always going to be him vs. the world, literally as it is in international competition and figuratively when it comes to proving himself.
So, whenever he comes back, expect him to want it badly just as he wanted it in 2008. Be prepared, doubters and haters.
(Editors Note: Kevin Durant is a member of the Brooklyn Nets. In case you forgot.)
MeloDrama II ... The Sequel
Of course, the possibility of Carmelo Anthony joining the Nets has gotten everyone riled up, Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe like it...
"This isn't a good fit, it's a great fit. This was heaven sent. I was so happy for Carmelo when I read that both KD and Kyrie are supporting this. ... Carmelo deserves this. He didn't deserve to go out the way it looked like it was about to end." — @RealSkipBayless pic.twitter.com/z1soVbSQKH— UNDISPUTED (@undisputed) August 30, 2019
So does Caron Butler...
Most fans want him signed like now while others fear he won’t accept a secondary role and hurt team chemistry.
We should know soon what the Nets level of interest is ... and whether WIlson Chandler’s 25-day suspension —a third of the season— will affect the Nets calculus. But for those who weren’t around NINE years ago, let’s go back and recall what it was like in MeloDrama I when the Nets went after him hard. So, we found a good summary, published in 2017.
Here ya go...
In 2010-11, after Melo announced he wanted to play somewhere other than Denver, the Knicks and Nets went round and round with the Nuggets and Melo’s agent, Leon Rose. It all ended on a cold February night when the Knicks outbid the Nets and won the day and the player.
As Peter Vecsey, the Hall of Fame sports writer, reported in 2017, there’s been a lot of revisionist history about the trade.
Specifically, Vescsey pointed to claims that James Dolan’s impatience to acquire Melo made him rush a deal when all he had to do was wait till free agency. It wasn’t quite that way. Melo, concerned about the uncertainty of the next CBA, wanted to be traded to a winner and re-sign.
Mikhail Prokhorov first blessed the pursuit of Melo, then famously decided in a bizarre press conference that he was washing his hands of it all, in the process calling Melo “Carmella.” Then he quietly reversed himself at Billy King’s request, leading to a meeting in L.A. just before the All-Star game in February 2011.
(It should be noted that several Nets executives claimed at the time that the team was not pursuing Melo. Later, they admitted they had lied. The pursuit of a superstar will do that to you.)
Here’s Vecsey’s 2017 take, from King, on that famous meeting...
The 2011 All-Star Game took place in Los Angeles. The night before, with the Nuggets’ permission, the Nets’ upper crust — owner Mikhail Prokhorov, Chairman of the Board, Dmitry Razumov, CEO Brett Yormark, part owner Jay-Z and GM Billy King — met with Melo and agent Leon Rose at Philippe Chow restaurant in Beverly Hills.
“Carmelo liked everything we were pitching,” King said yesterday. “He understood, if the Knicks refused to give the Nuggets everything and everyone they want he’d play one season in Newark before we moved to Brooklyn.”
Simultaneously, King was talking with Masai Ujiri, then Denver’s GM, now the Raptors.
“We had an agreement,” King stated definitively. “Derrick Favors, Devin Harris, Troy Murphy and three first-round picks every other year would’ve been sent to Denver.”
There was one qualification, though. “Masai told me we had a deal IF the Knicks didn’t include Mozgov,” who weirdly wound up with the Nets.
That would have been the Nets 2011, 2013 and 2014 picks, the last one later winding up with Boston in the Paul Pierce/Kevin Garnett deal.
Vescey also had a conversation had with Donnie Walsh, who was King’s counterpart with the Knicks. Walsh, said Vecsey, recounted what Dolan told him about the deal. The Knicks were indeed reluctant to give up Timofey Mozgov, then a rookie, and Raymond Felton. Vecsey wrote...
“James (Dolan) said it up to me, that I was the personnel guy, and I could do whatever I felt was right,” Walsh told me a couple years ago in his Pacers’ office. “I did not want to give up Mozgov. Nor did I want to give up Felton. But I did want Carmelo. I really wanted him. I felt getting a scorer like him was a rare opportunity, so I signed off on the whole deal.”
So the deal got done. The Knicks gave up Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, Mozgov, the team’s 2014 first-round pick, a pair of No. 2 in 2012 and 2013 that belonged to the Warriors, plus $3 million. Going the other way, in addition to Melo, were Chauncey Billups, Shelden Williams, Renaldo Balkmanand Anthony Carter.
To make the deal work, the Knicks had to add Minnesota to the trade. Anthony Randolph and Eddy Curry plus another $3 million were sent to the Timberwolves for Corey Brewer who was waived by the Knicks.
The very next day, the Nets and Jazz did their deal for Deron Williams, with some of the same assets offered Denver now headed to Utah. And for a moment, it looked like the Nets, not the Knicks, had the won the MeloDrama. As it turned out, it could have one of those cases where no one won.
It was a wild ride for Nets fans, a high stakes game very much unlike what the Nets just did in this summer’s free agency.
Will the Nets wind up with Anthony? Our bet is no. The Nets weren’t interested in him when he was cut the Rockets, weren’t interested in him at the beginning or middle of free agency. Yes, they do need someone to fill in for Chandler, but there are other, younger candidates out there.
Just as we did in 2011, we wait.
Democratic Presidential candidate Andrew Yang has on more than one occasion diverted from his “Freedom Dividend,” — a set of guaranteed payments of $1,000 per month, or $12,000 per year, to all U.S. citizens over 18 — into sports, specifically the NBA. A lapsed Knicks fan, Yang has been supportive of the Nets as well as their former player, Jeremy Lin. Yang, Lin and the Nets new owner, Joe Tsai, all share Taiwanese heritage.
This week, he both took a shot at the Knicks rebuild, which he has compared unfavorably with the Nets, and predicted the Nets will sign Carmelo Anthony now that Wilson Chandler has been suspended.
For a Knicks fan these are the darkest times I can remember. Neither competing nor rebuilding. Punting for free agents when there are none of note in 2020. Signing mercenary vets to 1 year deals who will want playing time over overmatched young players. Going to be a long season.— Andrew Yang (@AndrewYang) August 30, 2019
I bet the Nets sign Carmelo now that Wilson Chandler got suspended.— Andrew Yang (@AndrewYang) August 29, 2019
Whether Yang sees the tweets as a diversion from the campaign —or part of it— it seems to have worked, reports FOX News...
Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang gained immense support Thursday when he made a prediction involving the Brooklyn Nets and one dwindling NBA star.
FOX also pointed to a number of fan tweets supportive of the idea...
Tweets like this are why you have my vote— kristin (@kristinf_34) August 29, 2019
W— Mo Beef Buckets (@MoBucketsStan) August 29, 2019
You just earned my vote good sir— Rocky Jacobs (@RockyJacobs8) August 29, 2019
You’ll be able to cheer or boo Yang on September 12. His quixotic campaign has put him in the next presidential debate on ABC, one of only 10 candidates who’ve made the latest cut.
Jaylen Hands up
The Nets can be expected to make a decision on Jaylen Hands fate this week. Hands, the 6’3” UCLA point guard, was drafted at No. 56, played in the Nets Summer League and has worked out with the team in his native L.A.
Still, he is one of only two players from the Draft whose fate is still unlearned.
The Nets could give him the remaining two-way deal, stash him in the G League or overseas. He is very young and could use a lot of minutes somewhere ... as well as some weight training.
A video emerged this week that showed why the Nets liked his character. When the Bruins’ Moses Brown, a Queens-born 7-footer, got down in a game last season, Hands got his teammate up in a very demonstrative way...
Leadership at its finest right here. pic.twitter.com/MbOMg0eKuz— Athlete Tweets (@AllAthletesO) August 26, 2019
World Cup Schedule
Joe Harris (plus former Nets Brook Lopez and Mason Plumlee) will be on TV a lot this week, specifically ESPN+ as Team USA opens its defense of the World Cup. You’ll have to get up early to watch, but Harris will appreciate it if you do.
On Sunday, September 1, Team USA will open its defense of the Cup in Shanghai vs. the Czech Republic. Game starts at 8:30 a.m. ET
On Tuesday, September 3, it will be another early morning viewing experience, vs. Turkey. That game also starts at 8:30 a.m. ET
On Thursday, September 5, Japan will be the opponent, again at 8:30 a.m. ET.
After that, the schedule depends on team records as they enter the second round of the World Cup. Assuming the US moves on, it will travel from Shanghai to Shenzhen for second round games. Harris will be playing on those same courts in Shanghai and Shenzhen when the Nets travel to China for their preseason games vs. the Lakers.
This image was taken earlier this week at a Dodger game. That’s Kevin Durant in the foreground, Larry David in back of him...
And no, we will not curb our enthusiasm.