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Kyrie Irving WAS with the Cleveland Cavaliers & the Boston Celtics NOW… the Brooklyn Nets - (Erik Drost - photo)

 

 

Kevin Durant WAS with the Oklahoma City Thunder & the Golden State Warriors NOW… the Brooklyn Nets - (Keith Allison - photo)

 

 

James Harden WAS with the Oklahoma City Thunder & the Houston Rockets NOW… the Brooklyn Nets - (Keith Allison - photo)

 

 

Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain exemplified how to play the game without Showtime hot-dogging. The two battled for over a decade during the 60's. Since that time no NBA center could compare to their brute talent - (Library of Congress photo)

 

 

SPORTS NOTES - THE BIG 3 NO HAPPY BROOKLYN NETS?

James Loving/National Radio Text Service

 

 

When the Brooklyn Nets acquired James Harden to join Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving the buzz was this is the makings of a SUPER TEAM. But hold up…. basically this is a big three of malcontents BUT extremely talented individuals that are capable of winning a title. The question is WILL THEY, as Rodney King famously said, "ALL GET ALONG." STAY TUNED… - THIS DAY IN THE NBA - NBA's ALL TIME BEST PLAYERS TEAM

 

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

COEXIST... OR BUST!

As time marches on so do athletes. Some come and go for the money others because they need a change of scenery yet there are those who need some love. Yes some feel unloved and are searching for it as in GIVE ME, GIVE ME SOME LOVIN as the song goes.

Most interesting recently is James Harden felt that he needed a change and that the team that surrounded him with the Houston Rockets wasn't good enough. The result was he screamed and hollered so loud that he insisted on being traded.

Eventually he was, to the Brooklyn Nets that have a unique team touted as being a potential super team. The BIG THREE of the Nets, as many are referring to them, are Harden joining Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. The problem is there are three players with six hands and ALL WANT THE BALL IN THEIR HANDS! The problem is... THERE'S ONLY ONE BALL!

In a strange way they all came together by chance with the same resume they ALL DEPARTED the teams they were with because they were unhappy. Durant infamously wanted out of the then back to back champion Golden State Warriors because he felt slighted and felt unappreciated in the shadow of Stephen Curry and Michael Thompson. He also departed the Oklahoma City Thunder because he felt he was not going to win a title with that team after coming so close so many times.

Ironically back in the day, Irving was the first to be in No Happy land when he wanted to take on LeBron James as being the top dog for the Cleveland Cavaliers. James then bolted to Miami leaving Irving who couldn't win without him thus he moved on the Boston Celtics and was unhappy there.

After two seasons of unhappiness and injuries Irving has moved on to the Brooklyn Nets to join the then injured Durant. Durant who missed his first season due to injury he suffered in the 2019 playoffs with the Warriors and Irving played only 20 games in his first season in Brooklyn.

Injuries have plagued Harden this season although throughout his career he has pretty much been an iron man and has had few injuries. Unhappiness is the underlying cause of injuries in many cases… could this be the case here?

That's it… a big three of previously unhappy players with winning teams. Durant won two titles with the Warriors, Irving one with the Cavaliers and Harden is still searching.

With Harden and Durant being teammates during Hardens rookie with the season with OKC it's a no brainer that they know each other. Harden was the sixth man with the Thunder and became a superstar with the Rockets. Now he claims he is resolved with being a support player with the Nets or as he puts it he's tired of being the number one guy with all the weight on his shoulders.

Harden is now playing off the ball at the wing waiting for the ball to come his way. His game has changed. When Harden is playing his game he likes to take the ball at the top of the key and drive through the lane. His activity drew many fouls resulting in him taking 10 to 15 or more… foul shots a game. The beard is now in single digits in foul shot opportunities.

Thus far things are working out following two straight losses to Cleveland when Irving returned to the lineup after recovering from an injury. The most glaring thing is that Irving immediately went into shooters mode in taking more shots than the inform Durant and Harden.

He settled down in his third outing he settled down taking only 17 shots while Harden assumed the subordinate role. Durant has been rested in games leaving a BIG TWO on the floor. Nash is currently working through what combinations work or flow together and how to establish a strong eight man rotation. When Irving rests Harden goes to the top and takes the ball in his hands to lead the offense.

Now here's when things get tricky… how long will this last? How long will they all get along when it comes to crunch time and two have to defer to the other to take the last game winning shot? In this situation we are playing ego ball.

Irving is the hot button. Being 28 he is the youngest. Harden is 31 and Durant 32. The questions are how mature and sharing will he be as the season progresses?

First year coach Steve Nash is up to his ears in alligators in how to manage these three talents. As a player Nash was a giver not a taker. Now he has three Alphas to create a giving elasticity mentality to. He must blend egos and talent to form an overall cohesive unit.

Nash and the Nets organization were wise to hire Harden's former coach with the Rockets Mike D'Antoni as his assistant. Not only did he acquire a knowledgeable coach but has a history of managing Harden's ego and has current knowledge of the league and game matchups that Nash lacks.

The most important thing is since two players Irving and Durant have had numerous injury problems Harden is the safety valve. The team overall is talented. If Harden continues to be OK with being a supporting player then it could be the defining component for success.

The other issue that could be a stickler is that Irving is by far the lowest paid of the three by roughly $10 million a season. Irving makes $31,742,000 million this season, Durant $40,108,950 million and Harden $41,254,920 million.

History is plays a major factor in the pay scale differential. Harden and Durant have been selected the MVP of the league, Durant won in 2014 and Harden was selected in 2018 while Irving has yet to achieve that honor. Nash was twice the league's MVP in 2005 & 2006.

Nash has a load on his hands particularly for a first time EVER coach. Phil Jackson had a load on his hands managing the egos of Michael Jordan and Scotty Pippen. At first Jackson had a good blend with Horace Grant being a key strong third supporting player.

In the Bulls second three-peat no shooting Dennis Rodman was the man. Jackson then took on the same challenge with the Lakers Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal. The roster rotation of the Lakers at that time still provided a continuously supporting third player.

Red Auerbach and his dynasty Celtic teams of the 50's and 60's is the king of managing egos. He could go ten deep into his rosters and not lose strength but that was then and this is now in…THE NBA SISSY BALL don't touch me ERA.

In Auerbach's day they had men that didn't cry and complain the played basketball. Today's players are filthy rich spoiled and cry all the time. Auerbach had the advantage of being the GM and selecting the players he wanted to work with, while Nash is simply a coach.

Should the Nets be successful and Irving has a good season it raises the question will he then rise up and speak out about the organization giving him a huge raise or extension? This is potentially could be a very sticky issue.

Basically this is a big three of malcontents BUT extremely talented and capable of winning a title. The question is WILL THEY, as Rodney King famously said, "ALL GET ALONG." STAY TUNED….


THIS DAY IN THE NBA

January 26, 1973 George Gervin made his debut for the Virginia Squires of the ABA against Utah. The Stars won 127-121. January 26, 1980 The Cleveland Cavaliers lost at home to Indiana 115-114, but had cause to celebrate as Austin Carr became the franchise’s first 10,000-point scorer.

January 26, 1990 Cleveland Cavaliers Coach Lenny Wilkens won his 700th career game, 85-84 over Minnesota.

January 26, 1991 Houston guard Vernon Maxwell became the fifth player in NBA history to score 30 points in a quarter, joining Wilt Chamberlain, David Thompson, George Gervin and Michael Jordan. Maxwell, who finished with 51 points, hit for 30 in the final quarter of the Rockets’ 103-97 home win over Cleveland. Gervin holds the NBA record for scoring the most points in a quarter (33) in San Antonio’s 153-132 loss to New Orleans on Apr. 9, 1978.

January 26, 1993 New Jersey’s Chuck Daly became the 15th coach in NBA history to register 500 career victories, after the Nets defeated the visiting Los Angeles Lakers 106-91.

January 26, 1995 With a record 6,254,427 ballots cast by fans in the NBA All-Star Voting program, Detroit’s Grant Hill became the first rookie to ever lead all NBA players in All-Star votes received, earning the nod on 1,289,585 ballots.


 

NBA's 50 GREATEST PLAYERS of ALL TIME LIST

On October 29, 1996 In conjunction with the NBA’s 50th anniversary celebration, the list of The 50 Greatest Players in NBA History was announced. It included: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Nate Archibald, Paul Arizin, Charles Barkley, Rick Barry, Elgin Baylor, Dave Bing, Larry Bird, Wilt Chamberlain, Bob Cousy, Dave Cowens, Billy Cunningham, Dave DeBusschere, Clyde Drexler, Julius Erving, Patrick Ewing, Walt Frazier, George Gervin, Hal Greer, John Havlicek, Elvin Hayes, Earvin Johnson, Sam Jones, Michael Jordan, Jerry Lucas, Karl Malone, Moses Malone, Pete Maravich, Kevin McHale, George Mikan, Earl Monroe, Shaquille O’Neal, Hakeem Olajuwon, Robert Parish, Bob Pettit, Scottie Pippen, Willis Reed, Oscar Robertson, David Robinson, Bill Russell, Dolph Schayes, Bill Sharman, John Stockton, Isiah Thomas, Nate Thurmond, Wes Unseld, Bill Walton, Jerry West, Lenny Wilkens, and James Worthy

1st Team
Position
2nd Team
Larry Bird
PF
Elgin Baylor
SF
Julius Erving
Bill Russell
C
Wilt Chamberlain
Michael Jordan
SG
LeBron James
Magic Johnson
PG
Oscar Robertson
11th & 12th MAN SUBSTITUTES & Coach
C/F
C
Coach

 


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