There’s a song from Jay-Z and The Notorious B.I.G called “Brooklyn’s Finest”, which came out in 1996 on Jay’s first album, Reasonable Doubt. Among city anthems and salutes to the roots, this is definitely up there.
It’s brimming with arrogance, the beat bounces like a size-up dribble before a crossover, and Big and Jay dovetail seamlessly into bars and punchlines. Whenever I listen to this song, something about it seems to ooze that signature Brooklyn swagger — seriously, listen to it on your way to school or work; I guarantee it’ll get you going.
The Brooklyn Nets possessed none of that for the better part of the last decade, save for those classy black and white uniforms. But after notching the league’s worst record just three seasons ago, the Nets experienced a resurgence last year led by D’Angelo Russell and a steady core of players with interesting potential.
Still, they were refreshing upstarts at best and had a long way to go before being considered a top franchise, let alone a contender. But after winning (arguably) this crazy offseason, the Nets got that swagger back.
Kevin Durant is on his way to the Brooklyn borough.
On pure pedigree and talent, KD is by far the highest profile star the Nets have ever landed. He’s a two-time champ, a two-time Finals MVP, owns multiple scoring titles, and is almost always 1A or 1B when we talk about the best player in the world. Of course, he won’t suit up until next season to nurse his Achilles, but a player of his caliber is just too great to pass up, especially when you can play him alongside Kyrie Irving and DeAndre Jordan.
In terms of his personal legacy, it’s hard to make sense of how this move affects it, mainly because it’s hard to pin down his motivations. He dropped the Thunder to join a juggernaut and won everything there is to win. In Golden State, KD fit on the team like a hired gun and all the reports and rumors of rifts made this offseason’s move feel like its natural end.
Brooklyn isn’t as sure a thing as the Warriors were, nor are they underdogs the way OKC was, and I guess that only adds to the magnitude of this decision. The success of the Nets, the part Durant plays in it, and the way he plays it will go a long way towards helping us understand a player who we thought we already did early on in his career.
A lot of that hinges on how KD will handle this injury, and it’s truly impossible to say at this point. Ruptured Achilles tendons are among the most devastating and his age and the mileage on his body only put a bigger asterisk on his recovery. Nonetheless, Durant’s brilliance is that he is one of the most versatile players the game has ever seen and what he will lose in athleticism he can make up with scoring craft and shooting touch. His length is not going anywhere and his basketball IQ is only going to get better. Who knows, maybe Kyrie can open up other parts of his mind, too.
Regardless of when Durant gets to suit up and what form he’ll be in when he does, his decision to switch coasts carries huge implications on the NBA landscape. He’s the brightest star in Brooklyn’s trio and will line up with the likes of Spencer Dinwiddie, Jarrett Allen, Caris LeVert, and Taurean Prince. In a loaded Eastern conference, it’ll be fascinating to see if they can make it all the way to the Finals, especially because the next couple of seasons are slated to be the most open and most competitive we’ve had in a while.
The bottom line is that Durant’s injury status, his starring role in this exciting experiment, and the reshuffling of power in the league set the stage for him to stamp his greatness on a city and franchise designed to embrace it. And doing all that dressed in Coogi trim is the cherry on top.