The sun rises, the sun sets. Coffees are brewed in the morning, sleeping teas are warmed up in the evening as a nightcap at the end of busy days. And all the while, “Media Week” has continued to rage on. On Day 3 of the virtual extravaganza, NetsDaily was privy enough to speak with two of Brooklyn’s four forwards on what will likely be the opening night roster, Jeff Green and Taurean Prince. Prince, in particular, let reporters in on a secret that assuredly most Nets fans will love to hear––a peek behind the curtain at a certain pair of Brooklyn superstars ... and what they mean to their teammates
“It’s been great. Those guys are better leaders than people realize,” said Prince who is a long-time friend of both, an F.O.K cubed if you will. “They always try and get certain guys together whenever the situation calls for it... I’m just trying to take advantage of it every day, learn as much as I can, and pick their brains.”
When asked about what it’s like to work with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, Prince detailed the 4 a.m crew’s leadership philosophies with vibrant phrases like “they’re both vocal” and “they both lead by example.” Here’s the full quote.
“They’re both vocal, they both lead by example, they both come up and talk to you saying what you did wrong. But, the thing that surprised not only myself but a lot of guys is that they receive criticism from their teammates very well.
“If we feel like we want to correct them or need talk to them about a situation where they could have been there for us, well then it’s same thing, vice-versa. So you don’t feel that pressure not being able to tell the star ‘yo, call a screen next time’ or whatever the situation may be.”
Prince continued, touching on some of the misconceptions that still seem to plague the stars, bringing up misnomers around Kyrie Irving in particular.
“As far as why people don’t realize is just because they aren’t around them daily. I can’t really blame them. People having that narrative to keep up, so that is really a personal thing for them but it’s kinda like the situation for Kyrie. You see his highlights so much when you weren’t on his team. But when you are his friend, you are doing it every single day––it makes you that much more wowed by everything. So I think it’s a situation where you got to be around him to see it for yourself.”
So, let’s go ahead and do just that: “See it for yourself.”
No moment better encapsulates Prince’s proclamation of top-down leadership than a very specific one from the 2019-2020 season. Grab a hold of my virtual shoulder as we travel back in time to the Barclays Center, November 20th, 2019. It’s crunchtime, and the Nets are hosting the plucky Charlotte Hornets. Up nine points with 1:34 to spare in the fourth, the ball swings Joe Harris’ way, and he does what he does best: Can the corner three-ball with 52 percent accuracy, thereby sending the youthful Hornets home with that trademarked fist pump and a dagger in the heart.
At that point, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant had been Nets for barely five months, still green as green can be in the vast, vibrant borough of Brooklyn. Even with its newly appointed faces of the franchise, the Nets were still fresh off boasting one of the most jubilant and thoroughly delightful squads in the league the previous season.
The 2018-2019 group made waves (and impeccable memes) across national circuits for its antics and overachievement as a group, squeaking into the 2019 Playoffs with gutsy three-pointers and Irish jigs on a night-to-night basis. You could feel it in the arena the second you purchased a (suddenly-hot) ticket; the seats in the Barclays Center were still warm with enthusiasm from the good vibes of that 2018-2019 group.
Rather than taking the Nets’ #Culture, rolling it up into a ball, and tossing it into the trash, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving honored those roots on that fateful November night. Irving broke out his best Theo Pinson Irish gig, while The Slim Reaper pulled out a subtle little shoulder bump to celebrate what would be an eventual 101-91 victory.
Kyrie and KD leading the Nets bench celebrations now pic.twitter.com/6Y2aIKSJxx— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) November 21, 2019
That moment stuck with me for a while. Shoot, it still does. Rather than being “above” what made the Nets so special a season ago, Irving and Durant made an effort to honor the team’s impeccable chemistry. They wanted to show their gratitude to Brooklyn for the opportunity.
After everything that we’ve seen this week from a... certain professional basketball team from Los Angeles, that stuff matters. Prioritizing teammates, avoiding the feudal system that this league can sometimes produce, it can make a world of difference in the long run when the end-goal is to come home with knuckles full of glimmering rings.
Humility is a characteristic that becomes harder and harder to maintain as more and more success comes along the ride. Dancing around on the sidelines, that’s something we mostly see from bench-warmers. This was two of the five best scorers in the league... cheering for a role-player... a role-player who was an integral part of Brooklyn’s “bench mob” squad just two seasons ago. Roles had been flipped.
That moment in quarter four of a truly meaningless basketball game versus an eventual lottery team was exactly what Prince was talking about.
“Those guys are better leaders than people realize.” And all we have to do was “see it for ourselves.”
- Taurean Prince details why Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving are misunderstood as leaders - Nick Friar - USA Today