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In latest surveys of fan ‘hatred,’ Nets most ‘hated’ team, Kyrie Irving second most ‘hated’ player

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2021 NBA Playoffs - Brooklyn Nets v Boston Celtics Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Now that the Lakers have been eliminated they could vault pass the Nets as the NBA’s most hated team. They disappointed all season long and a lot of people lost a lot of money on sports betting sites.

But for now, the Nets remain the league’s most hated according to BetOnline surveys, the latest coming out last month. New Englanders so hate Kyrie Irving that the Nets are now most hated in that region, replacing the Celtics long-time rival, the Lakers!

The BetOnline survey geotagged Twitter data gathered — including over 90,000 tweets that mentioned hating a particular team — found Brooklyn the most disliked NBA franchise.

“The combination of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden seems to have been enough to finally flip [the] country’s hatred of the Los Angeles Lakers,” BetOnline SportsBook brand manager Dave Mason told Brian Lewis. “It’s interesting to see the New England area switch from being perennial Lakers haters to Nets haters, and Kyrie Irving probably has a lot to do with that.

Moreover, a new survey out Friday from BetOnline has Irving as the NBA’s second most hated player, from the rock bound coast of Maine to the volcanoes of Hawaii.

In the state by state survey, Irving is now the second most hated player in the NBA after his Cavalier teammate, LeBron James. James remains the most hated in 24 states, Irving 18. And who’s third and fourth?? James Harden, who’s most hated in Texas (duh!), Alabama and Georgia (??). Durant is most hated in California, Nevada and Ohio. (LeBron rivalry?) Count New York among the LeBron haters.

This is not all fun and games, of course, as shown by the series of incidents last week in Philadelphia, Salt Lake City, New York and Boston, where a full water bottle grazed Irving’s head after he stepped unceremoniously on “Lucky,” the Celtics midcoourt logo.

Lewis tried to break down the rationale for the hate or dislike or whatever ...

Is it the narrative of buying a champion rather than growing one, trading for Harden and getting Griffin on the buyout market? Their perceived cavalier attitude toward the regular season? Being the picture of player empowerment?

Maybe all of the above.

“When you form a super team like that, teams are gonna root against you,” said ESPN’s Kendrick Perkins, who played with all of the Nets’ “Big Three” and said as individuals they’re a big reason they’re viewed as villains.

“A lot of people are not fans of Kyrie because of some of the things he says off the court. … Then you look at KD, a guy who’s not afraid to go back-and-forth with people on Twitter. He already has a history from when he joined the Golden State Warriors — a lot of people didn’t agree with that. And now he’s with Kyrie. They’re already kind of the villains.

“Then the way James Harden left Houston. It’s not what you do, it’s how you do it. The way that he treated [Stephen] Silas — African-American coach that’d been in the game for 20-plus years and finally got an opportunity. The way he handled the situation and forced his way out. That’s why people look at them as the villains.”

It doesn’t seem like all that hate is bothering the Nets who now enter the second round as an even bigger favorite to win it all. Steve Nash famously flashed claws the first time the issue arose.

“I don’t even know what that means, villains. … A lot of it is just narratives. People love to talk hoops and barbershop and whatever,” coach Steve Nash said. “It’s not like we did anything illegal. I don’t know what we’re supposed to do, not try to add to our roster, and just sit pat? That’s the idea of this league is to try to put together the best team you can.”

As we’ve long been told, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And love is closest to hate.