When Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant hoisted back-to-back titles, all was cheery and rosy for the Golden State Warriors’ NBA Superteam. But in year three, the tension bubbled to the surface before Durant’s departure to the Brooklyn Nets.
Remember Draymond Green yelling, “We don’t need you! Leave!” on the bench to KD? He was daring an MVP to leave, in a season they looked ready to three-peat.
Winning can only mask ego clashes for so long, especially on a team with such big stars. It’s been true for every NBA Superteam ever, and it holds true for what might be the most talented team of all time.
No, not Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls or any of LeBron’s teams in Cleveland, Miami, or Los Angeles. It’s the 2021 Brooklyn Nets.
KD, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden – all in their primes – make up the scariest “Big Three” ever. But if history has told us anything, it’s that this Nets Superteam won’t last long.
In fact, we’re willing to bet they won’t even last three years.
NBA Superteam History
When LeBron James took his talents to South Beach, he kicked off the NBA Superteam era in 2010. Since then, players have been empowered to go where they please in free agency, and they can request trades at will.
One executive noted that star players in this era are always free agents, even when they’re not.
Kevin Durant got to choose where he played in 2o16, and he sent shockwaves by choosing Golden State.
After a couple rings with the overpowering Warriors, KD headed East to Brooklyn to team up with Kyrie Irving. Together, they posed a mighty threat to the rest of the East and were solid contenders.
Nets GM Sean Marks then sped up expectations by trading for disgruntled former MVP James Harden. For the rest of the 2020-21 season, Brooklyn boasts two MVPs and a bonafide star.
But if this Superteam is anything like past ones, they won’t be running the East for very long.
LeBron’s Heat lasted four years and won two titles. They seemed like they’d run the league for at least a decade, until LeBron shocked even his own teammates by going back to the Cleveland Cavaliers for a new challenge.
In Cleveland, LeBron teamed up with Kyrie and Kevin Love. That three-star lineup lasted three years and won a title.
But Irving soon wanted to be THE guy, wishing to step out from beneath LeBron’s shadow.
After requesting a trade, he was shipped off to the Boston Celtics.
The next year, LeBron left again to revitalize the Lakers’ franchise for yet another new challenge in the sunny shores of LA.
KD’s Superteam History
Let’s rewind a few years. Durant’s big decision to leave OKC was another big step for player empowerment.
He chose the brighter lights of the Bay Area, and the Warriors went from dominant to just unfair.
The KD-Steph Warriors lasted three years and won two titles in the process. But by year three, the issues started to pile on for Durant.
Issues of personality clashes with Draymond. Issues of who needs whom. Issues of why he wasn’t loved enough.
Here Come The Nets
Those Warriors could have easily won several more titles, but KD packed his bags and left for Brooklyn to unite with Kyrie and, later, James Harden. But this Nets team may follow a similar fate as its predecessors.
The reason Kyrie left Cleveland? He wanted to be the top dog, to run his own show.
The reason Harden left Houston? He wanted championships.
The reason KD left the Warriors? He wanted personal happiness and to play alongside good friends.
But what if Kyrie isn’t anywhere close to the top dog with two other superstars on his team? What if Harden doesn’t win championships in Brooklyn? What if KD no longer finds fulfillment next to Irving, who left the team inexplicably early in the ‘20-21 season?
If they don’t accomplish what they want, any one of the three could look to greener pastures elsewhere. Then there’s the main factor in a Superteam functioning well: sacrifice.
Each star has to sacrifice parts of his game to fit alongside the others.
LeBron, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh all had to alter their game to fit together. KD and Steph both had to sacrifice their on-court dominance to let the other have a go at times.
Can Harden, Kyrie, and KD all sacrifice a little to keep each other happy? Our bet is that they can…for a while.
In fact, they’ll put up gaudy offensive numbers as firm contenders, but their defense has been atrocious. In the first month after acquiring Harden, the Nets’ defensive rating ranked as one of the worst in history.
But they’re still winning. The mantra “defenses win championships” will be challenged by the Nets’ dominance come playoffs.
But if Kyrie’s main goal is to run his own show, if KD’s main goal is to be happy and away from drama, if Harden’s main goal is championships, chances are that one of those goals won’t be met.
Ego will gradually take over. Sacrifices won’t be made. And the Nets – like all Superteams before them – will die out.
NBA teams have adopted the practice of just throwing stars together and hoping they fit, andd this Nets’ experiment is exciting, intriguing, and must-watch TV.
But enjoy it while it lasts – because you may not get a chance for too long.