Despite the NBA doing everything they could in last year’s Bubble to make the season restart as pleasant of an experience for everyone involved, statements from players and staff that were a part of the experiment never seem to glance over the fact that it was indeed a difficult situation to be in. It was by no means an easy decision to go into the bubble and commit to being away from family for anywhere from a few weeks to several months. Trevor Ariza and Avery Bradley were two notable players who decided to sit this one out due to family health concerns. To add to that, big names such as Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving had made a similar decisions on personal health issues and concerns around social justice.
According to Matt Sullivan, formerly with Bleacher Report and now on the verge of launching his book entitled "Can’t Knock the Hustle: Inside the Season of Protest, Pandemic and Progress with the Brooklyn Nets," injuries and protests were not the only prerogatives of the duo from Brooklyn during that time. Sullivan mentioned a secret Covid Camp that Kyrie and KD were leading at the height of the pandemic when teams and players were not allowed to congregate in groups to work out.
“KD and Kyrie held a camp at Kobe’s old gym to work on their game. They used it as time to work guys out, including James Harden, to figure out essentially who they wanted on the super team.”
Matt Sullivan, ">Le Batard and friends
This comes as an interesting development in the storylines of two of the game's most mercurial stars, as Durant and Irving often cite the noise around the league as a source of their frustrations with the media and other people around the NBA. KD and Kyrie have always maintained the persona that says all they care about is playing basketball and that everything else is a distraction that they wish they did not have to deal with. Well, apparently, it now seems that the two could be interested in some politics within the game or power play of sorts, using their clout to take nearly full control of how the Brooklyn Nets are running their organization while breaking the NBA's rules on COVID.
Not to mention that should this be true, then there must have been a whole lot of tampering during those workouts that eventually led to Harden forcing his way out of Houston and into Brooklyn to join his buddies. For guys who certainly don’t like the politics and business of the game, this sounds like they have had their hands in the cookie jar for quite some time.
It is now even more apparent that a new age of player control is upon us - not only do star players dictate where they play, but also who they play with. Sullivan then calls the Nets a modern franchise in this approach that they have taken with their current stars, allowing them to be themselves and, to a certain extent, do as they please while being there to protect them from any potential repercussions from the public. With unique personalities such as Durant, Harden, and Irving, this almost seems like a necessary strategy as opposed to one that was premeditated.
Given how talented these guys are and how on the floor, it may very well be the cost of doing business, and should it lead to a dynasty in the future, then all will be well. This may prove to be a stroke of genius by a franchise poised to be the pioneers of such an approach, but it may also be another hard lesson for the NBA to learn. Character matters, and the way an organization is run dictates how much of that exists and also how much of that character spills on to the court.
Want to stay up to date with the latest news and reactions?Download our NBA news feed for breaking news, live stats, and game coverage.