October 18, 2021

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Kevin Durant and James Harden might have to go it alone with Kyrie Irving unvaxxed

Kevin Durant and James Harden might have to go it alone with Kyrie Irving unvaxxed

Kevin Durant and James Harden might have to go it alone with Kyrie Irving unvaxxed

Information about Kevin Durant and James Harden might have to go it alone with Kyrie Irving unvaxxed

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Has anyone seen Kyrie?

Has anyone seen Kyrie?
Illustration: Getty Images

Kyrie Irving ain’t walking through that door…tonight.

And while that last sentence is a play on Rick Pitino’s infamous quote, it’s also the perfect way to describe what could be the Brooklyn Nets’ season.

Another popular saying in sports is, “He/she left it all out on the floor.”

Most of the time, it’s overused. But, in Game 7 of last season’s Eastern Conference semifinals, it was the only way to describe what Kevin Durant did. He had 49 points, 17 rebounds, and 10 assists in 48 minutes in Game 5. He followed that up with 32 points and 11 rebounds in Game 6. And in the finale, he delivered a magnum opus of 48 points, 9 rebounds, and 6 assists while playing all 53 minutes in the overtime thriller without the services of Irving, and alongside a hobbled James Harden who was a shell of himself.

So when Durant air-balled his last shot of the game with 0.3 seconds left – ending the Nets’ season – it was apparent that he truly, “left it all out on the floor.”

Thanks to Irving’s narcissism/skepticism around taking the vaccine, Durant – and Harden – might have to “leave it all on the floor” all season if the Nets want to win it all.

“I’m not thinking about that,” Nets head coach Steve Nash said Thursday about the idea of Irving potentially missing at least 40-plus games this season. And that’s not taking the playoffs into account. And speaking of the playoffs, get this, the Nets would be better off WITHOUT home-court advantage if Irving remains unvaxxed.

Like Irving, the Nets are clueless. The franchise has no idea if Irving will ever take the vaccine so that he won’t have to miss out on games, and millions, this season. The team has already announced it won’t be moving practices to accommodate Irving and avoid New York City’s COVID-19 policy. The two sides are at a standstill, and no one knows how this will turn out. Nash has said little while trying to remain positive. Harden has tried to stay out of it. And Durant is doing his best to support one of his best friends.

“I’m envisioning Kyrie being a part of our team,” Durant said recently. “Maybe I’m just naïve, but that’s just how I feel. But everybody here has that confidence in themselves and our group, that if we keep doing it we can do something special.”

When the trio of Durant, Irving, and Harden was formed, many wondered how a team with a rookie head coach and three prolific scorers would work.

“Brooklyn’s New Big Three Could Be Unstoppable — If One of Them Is Willing to Sacrifice,” wrote The Ringer.

“One basketball might not be enough for the new-look Nets,” pondered the New York Times.

The New Yorker claimed that “The Brooklyn Nets are an Experiment Within an Experiment.”

Well, life comes at you fast. But the stubbornness of anti-vaxxers makes it come even faster, as all the offensive riches the Nets once possessed on the perimeter doesn’t look – or feel – the same with Irving potentially only being around part of the time. The additions of LaMarcus Aldridge, Patty Mills, and Paul Millsap to go along with Blake Griffin, Joe Harris, Durant, Harden, and the rest of the roster are more than enough to get Brooklyn to the Finals. But, the feared behemoth they once were has lost some of its allure with Irving’s future up in the air.

It’s always better to have more, than to be without. Or in this case, stacking your roster with former All-Stars is a smart move when one of them is liable to miss half the season due to a “private matter” in the middle of a very public crisis.

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