James Harden and the Los Angeles Clippers defeated Kyrie Irving and the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday night, evening their head-to-head series at 1-1. Irving, who was teammates with Harden on the Brooklyn Nets a few years ago, was the second of the three superstars to request a trade out of Brooklyn. That deal landed him with the Mavs.
A team that had unlimited potential and was an inch away from a possible NBA championship, the Brooklyn Nets ended up trading all three of Kyrie Irving, James Harden, and Kevin Durant once it became increasingly clear the trio would not be able to work together for various reasons.
“We could sit here and play the ‘what-if' scenarios all day bro,” Kyrie Irving told members of the media after Saturday's loss to the Clippers. “For me, even when James came to Brooklyn, and a lot of my peers, lot of my teammates, and lot of guys that I played with, I've always told them that is is bigger than just us being teammates right now, present moment. You've gotta do what's best for you.”
The Nets accumulated a 13-3 record when Kyrie Irving, James Harden, and Kevin Durant all played for Brooklyn. Between vaccine mandates and injuries, the Nets were arguably robbed of seeing what they could've been, with folks around the league still dubbing them one of the biggest ‘what-ifs' in NBA history to this day.
“It’s unfortunate that me, James, and KD are part of NBA history ‘what-ifs' of just having a superteam and the expectations on us,” the Mavs guard continued. “We did have a few good seasons and outside of just the things we couldn't control with the vaccine stuff and the mandates in New York City and just the up-and-downs of scenarios and circumstances, I felt like we did pretty well.”
In total, Kyrie Irving, James Harden, and Kevin Durant played just 783 minutes together and had a +8.8 net rating in those 16 games played with one another. The trio also played finished with a 5-1 record during the 2021 postseason until James Harden's hamstring injury popped up again and Kyrie Irving's severe ankle sprain ruled him out for the remainder of the series against the Milwaukee Bucks.
“I don't look back on that aspect on my career disappointed. I just think it’s kind of like one of those times that got away, or the girl that got away. It’ll hurt you for the rest of your life. Looking back, you got a great bad wife, kids, and all that and you’re like, ‘Tss.' I don’t second-guess it, I don’t wanna get in trouble with my wife. I’m not thinking about nobody else, baby. But it feels like kind of FOMO, like you missed out on something great.”
Kyrie Irving on time with Harden/KD on the Nets:
“It’s kind of like the girl that got away… Looking back, you got a great bad wife, kids & you’re like, ‘Tss.’ I don’t wanna second guess it, I don’t wanna get in trouble with my wife. I’m not thinking about nobody else, baby.” 😂 pic.twitter.com/T7efBxkHCq
— Tomer Azarly (@TomerAzarly) November 26, 2023
Following a number of issues stemming from not following New York City's vaccine mandate, sharing a link on Twitter to a film that featured antisemitic tropes, and unsuccessfully attempting to negotiate a new contract with the Nets, Kyrie Irving requested a trade out of Brooklyn. His trade to the Dallas Mavericks came after the Nets traded James Harden to the Philadelphia 76ers prior, and Kevin Durant was traded to the Phoenix Suns about a week after Irving was dealt.
“This [trade] was in the works like after Year 1,” Kyrie Irving told reporters when he was initially traded to the Mavs last season. “I was unsure about whether I wanted to be in Brooklyn long-term again because of things that was happening behind the scenes.”
Kyrie Irving on Kevin Durant trade from Nets to Suns:
"It's not the first time we'll be in competition as brothers. I'm just praying for his happiness. We just cared about seeing each other in places that we can thrive, together or apart… I’m just glad he got out of there.” pic.twitter.com/FveM52UaTP
— Tomer Azarly (@TomerAzarly) February 9, 2023
Kyrie Irving's Mavs started the season 8-2, but have dropped four of their last six games. Aside from the losses, the Mavs are also still examining Luka Doncic's left thumb, which was injured in the first minute of the team's game against the Clippers Saturday night.
The Clippers, meanwhile, have won four of their last five games and will host the defending NBA champion Denver Nuggets on Monday night.