Rumors of James Harden leaving the Houston Rockets to join the stacked Brooklyn Nets has gained major traction over the last few days. While that potential blockbuster deal would top the craziness that is 2020, pundits were quick to point out how Kyrie Irving would feel about this whole ordeal.
The Beard, of course, already has some rapport with Brooklyn’s other superstar Kevin Durant from their Oklahoma City Thunder days.
As for Irving, Harden’s arrival would likely overshadow his impact on the team and make him the third option on offense. This, of course, is unfamiliar territory for Uncle Drew, considering he’s had the spotlight on him the moment he was drafted in 2011.
Obviously, Durant would still be the top dog despite missing the entire 2019-20 campaign due to injury. His accomplishments of being a two-time NBA champion, two-time Finals MVP, and one-time regular-season MVP speaks for itself.
Harden, on the other hand, is a former league MVP as well. The case can be made that Irving already won a title, while Harden has yet to at least lead to Rockets to the NBA Finals.
Still, it’s pretty clear that Irving would be the third wheel if these three superstars actually get to wear the same uniform next season.
Let’s address the elephant in the room. Will Kyrie Irving willingly take a backseat to Harden and Durant if that trade pushes through?
The short answer, a resounding NO.
Irving has indeed garnered a notorious reputation over the last few seasons. It’s not that long ago that the 6-time All-Star wanted out a perfect situation with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2017.
That LeBron James-led team, after all, was just fresh from ending the Cleveland curse and giving the franchise its first Larry O’Brien trophy.
It’s not like Irving had an insignificant role on that team either. The Duke product nailed that championship-winning dagger in Game 7 against the Golden State Warriors to give the Cavs the chip.
The James-Irving duo was soon dubbed as the most lethal combination in the league. Some claimed they had a shot at being the greatest one-two punch in history.
The only problem was, Irving no longer desired to play Robin and wanted to be his own Batman. He publicly asked to be traded that year and got his wish when the Cavs moved him to the Boston Celtics.
A lot has happened since then, but a lot of people still can’t shake the feeling of déjà vu if Irving is once again put in a similar situation.
The jury is still out if Irving and Durant can actually co-exist on and off the floor, considering they have yet to log-in a single second together.
Adding Harden to that equation gives Brooklyn the most talent-stacked roster on paper, but it does come with a lot of complexities and uncertainties.
Kyrie Irving fans may point out that the now 28-year-old guard has matured since leaving Cleveland and learned from his mistakes.
Then again, Irving has been unable to shake off that diva tag in recent seasons. His strong opposition with the restart of the 2019-20 campaign only builds a stronger case that he has yet to change his ways.
Egos aside, there’s also compelling evidence that Irving and Harden play way too similar to effectively co-exist on the same backcourt.
Both are ball-dominant guards who will be reduced to being a spot-up shooter while the other one handles the rock. We’ve seen the Harden-Westbrook tandem experiment fail simply because they took turns being the focal point.
The Nets will face a similar conundrum if they manage to acquire Harden.
The Beard just waited for the ball and settled for long-range shots when Westbrook took over. Imagine how he’ll fare alongside the dribble-heavy, iso-style of Kyrie.
KD has already proven that he can still be effective off the ball, evidenced by his stint with the Warriors. Harden has been unsuccessful in that regard so far, while we’ve seen how frustrated Irving became being James’ sidekick.
Plus, all the successful Big 3s in the past achieved greatness when their play styles actually complemented one another.
The Celtics’ quartet of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Rajon Rondo each brought something different to the table and made each other better on the floor. They won it all in 2008.
The same goes for the “Heatles”, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh in ’12 and ’13, who made sacrifices for the betterment of the team.
Maybe Kyrie Irving is indeed older and wiser this around and would accept the demotion if it meant another shot at an NBA title. But so far, he hasn’t shown such growth just yet and will be seen as such until he proves otherwise.