No one but no one can give you a sense of where the Nets have been like Ian Eagle and when Mike Mazzeo caught up with him this week, the talk was about Jason Kidd and Kevin Durant. Not comparing their careers or ranking their relative talents.
No, it was about how KD can do for the Brooklyn Nets what JKidd did for the New Jersey Nets, make them the centerpiece of pro ball in New York. Eagle, who’s covered the Nets for nearly a quarter century, called Kidd’s debut at the Continental Airlines Arena on October 30, 2001 and he’ll do the honors again for YES Tuesday night when Durant takes the court officially as a Net for the first time.
“I think Kevin brings some of what Kidd brought, which was a very quiet confidence of ‘I’ll show you,’” Eagle told Mazzeo, writing for Forbes Sports Money. “And I know he and Kyrie definitely look at this as a legacy-type situation where they can put their stamp on the franchise – and that goes against conventional thinking. Because for many years, the thought was always if you come to New York and win a ring for the Knicks, it’s all about setting this standard and creating these lasting memories. But the reality is they decided to do it a different way.”
The situations, of course, are different. NO ONE (other than Charles Barkley, it should be noted) thought the New Jersey Nets would even make playoffs back then, let alone get to the Finals. Kidd’s talents were well-known, but he had never gotten out of the second round previously.
Now, everyone thinks the Brooklyn Nets have a legitimate shot at the Larry O’Brien Trophy as long as he and Kyrie Irving (who was at one of those 2002 Finals games) remain healthy. But one thing is similar: Kidd and Durant are not bound by the past, whether in New Jersey or Brooklyn or in Manhattan, where the Knicks play.
“It was jarring for anyone that was associated with the franchise because everyone else had bought into the stepchild theme (to the Knicks), and he didn’t,” Eagle recalled of Kidd. “All of his answers, while he wasn’t overtly boasting, he always answered with a sense of ‘No, we’re going to be much better, you’ll see.’ He spoke with conviction. It was just different...
“Kevin Durant doesn’t come into this situation thinking about the old Nets,” Eagle noted. “In his eyes, this is a new time, a new team and a new culture. And I think Kidd brought the same approach.”
As Mazzeo notes, there will be one other difference in the debuts. Although only 8,749 were listed as on hand that night — the competition was Michael Jordan’s Wizards debut at the Garden and Game 3 of the World Series — that’s 8.749 more than will be in the arena Tuesday night.
- It Took Jason Kidd One Game To Change Nets. Kevin Durant Has Chance To Put Them Back On Map. - Mike Mazzeo - Forbes Sports Money