The best super team that never was


Wikimedia Commons/Eric Kristiensen

The Brooklyn Nets put together one of the best trios in NBA history, but only got 16 games out of them in one season.

Caleb Hiatt, Sports Editor

When James Harden was traded to the Nets in early 2021 to join Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, the city of Brooklyn fell asleep with Finals Championships dreams. Steve Nash and the Brooklyn front office had just managed to get three of the league’s top five scorers on the same team; so for many, it was hard to imagine any way that they could fail. While this school of thought rose to popularity, basketball purists argued that having three scoring stars on the court would not work because, as my dad would say, there’s only one ball.

As the trio got their start, it quickly became apparent that the on-court aspect was nothing to worry about, the three surprised the purists, playing some of the best basketball while they were all together. Unfortunately, however, this only happened a total of 16 times in their season together, posting a record of 13-3. Off-court issues, like Irving’s vaccination beliefs and injuries from the other two, would prevent the three from seeing the court together. In the 2021 playoffs, when the Nets made a second-round exit against the Bucks, Harden suffered a hamstring injury in game one. As the 2021-22 season started up, the Nets continued to struggle to get their stars to play together. Durant missed a plethora of games due to calf, ankle and knee problems, Harden missed with hamstring injuries and Irving’s playing time was limited by cities’ vaccination statuses.

All of these circumstances and more led the Nets to make a deal with the 76ers to trade James Harden for Ben Simmons. Brooklyn fans still saw their team as a contender for the title, as did many. Simmons, who had battled injury all season, was expected to make a late-season return to play with the Nets in the playoffs. Sadly, Simmons kept putting off the return from his injury, basically abandoning his new team in the playoffs as they lost in a four-game sweep to Jayson Tatum and the Boston Celtics. 

Obviously, the story of the super-team Brooklyn Nets is not finished, they still have a better list of stars than most teams, and it will be interesting to see how Simmons fits in the mix when he gets back to the court.