The controversies of the Brooklyn Nets

The Nets have had enough drama this season to rival the best soap operas.

Aug. 8, just before 8 p.m., Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai tweetedOur front office and coaching staff have my support. We will make decisions in the best interest of the Brooklyn Nets.” Not even 90 days later, head coach Steve Nash was fired after a 2-5 start.

If there is one word to describe this Nets era, it’s controversial. Almost every principle character on this team has some form of drama attached to them. 

Kyrie Irving: The conspiracy theorist 

Star guard Kyrie Irving is almost as well known for his off-the-court antics as he is for his on-court achievements. The most prominent controversy occurred last year, when he refused to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. He was unable to play in home games for the majority of the season as a result of this decision.

This season, he has continued his controversial behavior, tweeting out a link to an antisemitic film, and then proceeded to defend his actions by saying “I’m not going to stand down on anything I believe in.” 

The Brooklyn Nets have suspended Kyrie Irving for at least five games without pay as a result of his recent actions and his “refusal to disavow antisemitism”.

“Over the last several days, we have made repeated attempts to work with Kyrie Irving to help him understand the harm and danger of his words and actions, which began with him publicizing a film containing deeply disturbing antisemitic hate,” the Nets said in a statement on Thursday Nov. 3. “We are of the view that he is currently unfit to be associated with the Brooklyn Nets.”

Ben Simmons: The star that isn’t playing

The young guard was an NBA All-Star the last time he played a full season. Ben Simmons missed last season due to mental health issues after a terrible 2021 playoff run.

“I was in such a bad place where I was like, fuck, I’m trying to get here and you guys are, like, throwing all these other things at me to where you’re not helping. And that’s all I wanted, was help,” Simmons told former Philadelphia 76ers teammate JJ Redick on The Old Man and the Three with JJ Redick and Tommy Alter” podcast.

His refusal to play since the end of last season has become a huge source of discussion for both him and the Nets, who traded for star James Harden for him.

Simmons finally came back to the court this season only to have a career-worst year in essentially every statistic and a bizarre lack of aggressiveness when it came to attacking the rim.

This has led to incidents with his teammates on the court, particularly with Irving, who yelled at him to shoot the ball in a loss against the Milwaukee Bucks.

Kevin Durant and Joe Tsai: Ultimatums and stubbornness

The tweet from Tsai was not a random assurance to the team’s staff. It came after superstar Kevin Durant’s public ultimatum, in which he demanded either Nash be fired or he wanted to be traded.

Tsai did not succumb to the whim of the star. Stubbornly, the owner decided to stand by his head coach. This drama was heightened by the fact that Nash has been widely criticized for his failure to win games.

Nash was thoroughly outcoached by Ime Udoka, the head coach of the Boston Celtics, in the first round of last year’s playoffs. The Nets were swept despite having the second highest payroll in the NBA

Tsai’s headstrong decision to stand by Nash backfired less than 10 games into the season. Nash’s lack of coaching ability continued to show into this regular season, leading to his firing.

Ime Udoka: The disgraced new hire

Who did Tsai hire to replace Nash? Ime Udoka, the man who outperformed Nash.

Udoka was the mind behind the league-leading Celtics defense last year. He even took the young team to the finals in his very first season as an NBA head coach. It seems like a perfect fit for a team in desperate need of some leadership and coaching.

There is one caveat, though. He was suspended from the Celtics for an affair he had with a woman in the organization. In an attempt to improve, the Nets have steered into even more drama. 

Contact Pablo Ocariz at [email protected].