Report: Nets players called out Kenny Atkinson in spirited team meeting days before firing
The firing of Kenny Atkinson caught many by surprise, but due to a recent chain of events, it was a move that was coming sooner or later. Atkinson had been very critical of his Brooklyn Nets, recently lighting into his team during a game against the Boston Celtics and even subbing all of the starters out in hopes to make a point.
Then last Wednesday night, after a 39-point shellacking at the hands of the Memphis Grizzlies, it was the team’s time to bark back during a spirited team meeting, according to Shams Charania and Alex Schiffer of The Athletic.
Players aired out their grievances, critiquing Atkinson and expressing a desire for him to identify their roles better, line up a clear hierarchy for the team, and make the changes that needed to be made to right the ship. Kevin Durant even chimed in, pointing out that the Nets must improve their habits to build the proper traits necessary for a title contender with a winning culture.
Players didn’t escape criticism. Veterans expressed a want for starting point guard Spencer Dinwiddie to play like the player they know after he had scored a season-low four points against Memphis. DeAndre Jordan also took some heat.
“It was a come-to-Jesus moment,” one source with knowledge of the meeting said. “It was an honest conversation where everyone tried to make things right.”
At that point, it became clear Atkinson wasn’t in good graces with his team. It would only take a few more days for the Nets to announce he was no longer the head coach, leaving Jacque Vaughn in charge for the remainder of the season.
While it has been a trying season for Brooklyn, Vaughn will have playoff games to coach. The Nets are 29-34 and six games clear of the ninth-place Washington Wizards.