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Bruce Brown dishes on Brooklyn Nets departure, team culture

The Denver Nuggets’ sixth man went on the Dan LeBatard show to chat about his former franchise

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Brooklyn Nets Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

I hope you’re not sick of re-living the least glorious glory days that the Brooklyn Nets (or the New Jersey Nets or the New York Nets, for that matter) have ever experienced. Good! Because former Net and current Denver Nugget Bruce Brown went on the Dan LeBatard Show to drop some juicy soundbites about his former team, as he waits to see if he’ll be facing the Miami Heat or Boston Celtics in this year’s NBA Finals.

Although Nets fans are nice and familiar with Brown’s chatty nature, it should be noted that he was pushed pretty hard by LeBatard and co-host Mike Ryan to provide some details about the Clean Sweep Era Nets. Either way, Brown certainly obliged. First, Ryan asked the question that’s been on many of our minds for nearly a year now: “Can you believe that the Nets were like - after watching you in that [2022] postseason - were like, ‘Nah, we’re good.’?”

Well, according to Brown, that framing doesn’t tell the whole story. After an impressive four games (all losses) against the Celtics wherein he played 35 minutes a night, averaging 14/5/3 on outstanding shooting splits of 57/43/80, it wasn’t the Nets as a whole that passed up on retaining him. Just some of them.

“Honestly…I don’t think it was the Nets’ front office organization who made that decision. Because - what I’ve heard - they wanted me back,” said Brown.

LeBatard and Ryan then pressured him to admit that it was one of Kyrie Irving or Kevin Durant, or both, that axed his career in Brooklyn, to which the ex-Net simply replied, “I can’t say too much about that,” and “I don’t know who made the decision, but I just know the front office wanted me back.”

Unsurprisingly, Nets fans were quick to point out on Twitter that he could have been referencing owner Joe Tsai and a possible reluctance to spend the extra cash on the then-25-year-old’s services. That seems unlikely since Tsai was spending big bucks at the time and would have paid $108 million in luxury taxes if the big deadline trades didn’t go down. For whatever reason, the Nets did not use their taxpayers’ MLE which was close to $7 million a year.

Indeed, there have been rumors that KD and Brown didn’t get along during their time in Brooklyn and had a memorable blow-up in the Western Conference semis between the Nuggets and Suns. Brown also became the franchise’s biggest COVID vaccine advocate, appearing in commercials sponsored by vaccine makers Pfizer and Biontech and the Nets while Irving famously refused to take the shot. “I can’t afford to miss games,” said Brown.

Anything, of course, could be true, even the possibility that Brown’s version of events is self-servingly skewed (though I’m not sure what that would accomplish here). But considering that Brooklyn did not even offer a contract, and that spending has never been a considerable obstacle in the Tsai-era…that theory seems iffy.

Overall, Brown has nothing but love for his former employers: “Front office-wise they’re great, they’re amazing. I love Sean Marks, [Assistant GM] Jeff Peterson.”

So, why the demise, then? “I think, locker room-wise, it was cool, but we really didn’t do much together off the court. But when James [Harden] was there, obviously it was more fun.”

Brown would spend the rest of the Nets-related portion of his interview extolling the praises of Harden, alternating between tongue-in-cheek references to the “events” the Beard for his Brooklyn teammates and sincerely calling him one of the “best teammates I’ve ever had.”

Piecing together his comments, it’s clear Brown views Harden as the glue, particularly within the locker-room, to the success of his Nets teams, and that things really got started rolling downhill once the former MVP departed for Philly. That would align with the view of another former Brooklyn-ite who has left for Denver, NetsDaily’s very own Matt Brooks, who had this to say in the wake of Brown’s comments:

So, there you have it: Some of Bruce Brown’s take on not only what went wrong for Brooklyn Nets, the obvious champions that never were, the team that slipped away from us, but why he’s not still donning the black and white. If you want to see his comments in full, or watch him answer questions that aren’t related to some of your most painful memories as a basketball fan, watch his full interview on the Dan LeBatard Show below. (Nets talk begins at around the three-minute mark.)