Irving made a choice and the Nets paid the price

The Brooklyn Nets went into the last two seasons as favorites to win the NBA championship.

Last year, they lost a seven-game Eastern Conference semifinal to the eventual champion Milwaukee Bucks, a series that could have gone either way. It was the final frustration of a season in which the team’s big scorers — Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving — were rarely on the court together.

This year, the Nets were the first team eliminated from the playoffs, swept out of the first round by the Boston Celtics. From beginning to end, the 2021-22 Nets were a team of promises never kept.

Many explanations will be offered but it’s really simple and everybody knows it — the Nets never came close to living up to expectations because Irving chose not to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Dick Scanlon

Irving’s decision, and the question of whether his individual freedom should override the interests of a team paying him $36 million to play this season, have been debated for six months now. But in the wake of their seventh-place finish and quick playoff exit, there can be no debating the direct consequences of his choice. It changed the Nets from a championship contender into an also-ran. Irving’s decision meant he could not play in home games (and some road games) until New York City’s vaccination requirements were lifted. It set the stage for the Nets’ season. Irving would play in 29 games. He would miss 53 games.

Leave a Comment