Grande On Nets: "Little Brother Is All Grown Up"

The Nets lived in the Knicks' shadow for decades; that changed Sunday, as Brooklyn signed Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving

Zach Gelb
July 01, 2019 - 11:09 am
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The Brooklyn Nets have lived in the shadow of the New York Knicks for much of their existence. The Nets have never won an NBA title, have just one 50-win season since 1977, and have advanced past the first round of the playoffs just once in the last 12 seasons. They have been, in essence, little brother to their Manhattan counterparts. 

No more.

“Little brother is all grown up,” Celtics play-by-play announcer Sean Grande said on The Zach Gelb Show. “The Nets have been brilliant in the aftermath of what was a devastating deal for them in trying to become relevant. But you don’t become relevant by trading for superstar players who are three or four years past their prime. You put yourself in position to spend money on them in their prime, and that’s the difference between what the Nets tried to do with (Mikhail) Prokhorov in 2013 and what they (did Sunday).”

Indeed, the Nets signed Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in what could be the greatest free-agent coup in NBA history. KD and Kyrie are two of the most talented yet polarizing players in the league.

“What Kyrie did publicly and what he is being bashed for and killed for, I think, in a lot of ways (is) deserved,” Grande said. “He made the commercials, he promised the fans he was staying, he told his teammates he was staying – he did all these things. He’s going to have to take a beating on those things and deal with it.”

Without Irving, the Celtics came within one game of reaching the NBA Finals. With Irving, they won just one game in the conference semis.

“Kyrie Irving, the last two years, he was Kyrie Irving: the same dude he’s always been,” Grande said. “Brilliant on the floor. He was the same guy on the court and off the court. But that kind of personality, if the flat-earth, what-does-government-mean-to-you, the-Internet-isn’t-real dude – who is exceptionally talented – is the second guy on your team, you can win. But that doesn’t work as the locker room leader-alpha, particularly with a younger team. As I’ve said many times over the last six months, a leader without followers is just a guy out taking a walk.”

Durant, meanwhile, left Oklahoma City to find happiness in Golden State. Two Finals MVPs later, it appears he was unsuccessful.

“The Nets have just put their franchise in the hands of two guys, one of whom was unhappy playing for Brad Stevens and the most historic franchise in the NBA with an extraordinarily talented group of players playing around him,” Grande said. “The other was unhappy playing for Steve Kerr in the greatest modern-day dynasty that the game is going to have. If we’re trying to make Kyrie and Kevin Durant happy – if they weren’t happy in the situations they were in, maybe (that) was something of a fool’s errand. The question is can they play together and can they win – and not so much are they going to be happy? Because you wonder about the capability of happiness for two guys who couldn’t be happy in the situations they were just in.” 

Click below to listen to Grande’s interview in its entirety.