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Former players taking aim at Nets, both directly and subtly

Washington Wizards v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

It’s become a trend: former Nets players tossing shade at their former team in comments to media, suggesting that things in Brooklyn last season were problematic. It’s no secret, of course. Current Nets players, starting with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving and even including the usually taciturn Joe Harris have said so. Markieff Morris has commented on it from an opponent’s angle. Sean Marks has said it as well but the commentary by former Nets has to sting.

“I played with some stars, like Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, and I have to admit that it was quite difficult because the focus was not the team, but more the individual performances of the individual players,” Dragic told a newspaper in his home country of Slovenia in mid-July after he signed with the Bulls.

”New York was kind of crazy. I’m happy to be here.” Bruce Brown told reporters at the Nuggets Media Day at the end of September.

And this week, Blake Griffin in talking to Boston writers made it clear — without mentioning the Nets by name — that he believes Celtics vibes are better than Nets vibes.

“I talked to pretty much everybody. I got in yesterday and saw some guys yesterday. Obviously, I was here all of practice today, so I’m actually very … not surprised, but the amount of maturity and like, welcomingness, I don’t know if that’s a word, but it’s a different atmosphere than I was sort of used to, in a good way.” said the 14-year veteran earlier in the week.

“They were very welcoming. Everybody, one through 15. Practice today was focused, very encouraging, [and] helpful. I think you kind of take that for granted because it’s not always the case everywhere you go.”

Similarly, Saturday night, Griffin could have been taking a shot at Steve Nash’s first year as Nets head coach when he praised Joe Mazzulla, the Celtics assistant who was elevated to head coach in the aftermath of Ime Udoka’s suspension.

“Super poised. He’s very relaxed,” said Griffin of Mazzulla. “He knows how to talk to guys. He knows how to make guys laugh but he also knows how to get on us... that’s not always the case for a first-year head coach.”

He added: The intensity level and maturity level of this group is off the charts. Every day when we get to work, it’s intense … These guys are locked in and nobody has to tell us to be locked in, and that’s refreshing.”

Of course, each has some “history” with the Nets. Bruce Brown didn’t even get an offer from the Nets in free agency after two years of contributions. His job was seen as insecure after Marks traded for Ben Simmons at the deadline then Royce O’Neale in the off-season.

Griffin’s role with the Nets was more complicated. After playing well following his signing at the end of the 2021-22 season, he started slowly last year and his minutes went from inconsistent to non-existent by the time of the playoffs. His contributions in Game 3 of the Celtics sweep had some fans thinking that he deserved more time, but more than one reporter noted he was “gassed” and in Game 4, playing 18 minutes, he went scoreless.

Indeed, Brown and Griffin joked about Griffin’s lack of playing time during a Twitch stream on June 9.

“I’ve been doing offseason workouts since March,” Griffin said to Brown during the Instagram live session.

For the record, the Nets play Dragic’s Bulls on November 1, Griffin’s Celtics on December 4, and Brown’s Nuggets on March 19.