The Brooklyn Nets have started to pick up the pieces in the aftermath of a tumultous summer.
The whole team dined at Lucali, an upscale brick oven pizza restaurant in Brooklyn, Wednesday night to celebrate on the eve of Kevin Durant’s 34th birthday.
Then on Thursday, the Nets had a light practice that ended with the whole team gathering midcourt to greet Durant.
An electronic birthday greeting billboard flashed on screen above the Nets practice facility while rookie Alondes Williams serenaded Durant with a birthday song.
“We got him a cake. Alondes [Williams] sang to him. It was awful (laughs). Our guy is a year older. Kudos to him for still playing at an incredibly high, historic level at 34.”Steve Nash via Nets Daily
Nearly three months to Thursday, that festive vibe was hard to even imagine.
Durant, still one of the top players in the league entering his 16th year, threatened to leave Brooklyn in haste. Disappointed with the lack of accountability which torpedoed their championship hopes last season, Durant demanded a trade that was not granted.
With the Nets unable to muster the desired package for their superstar, they ultimately worked to repair their relationship.
GM Sean Marks, whom Durant asked to be fired along with Nash, tried his best to reshape the roster to optimize Durant’s remaining championship window.
Nash did not believe Durant really wanted him fired. He agreed with Durant’s sentiments in their grievance meeting.
He made no effort to woo his superstar on his birthday with lavish gifts. Instead, he intends to keep him fresh for another grueling playoff battle next spring.
“No, I did not [give any material gift]. I gave him a light practice. Save the legs. What do you get someone who has everything.”Steve Nash via Nets Daily
Career-wise, Durant has everything — from money to fame to championships — but he is still yearning for more greatness.
At his age, Durant has been through a lot. Yet he doesn’t want to relax and just cruise to retirement.
Competition still fires up his belly from Twitter to the basketball court. It’s the reason he sought a trade out of Brooklyn. He chose the Nets over their crosstown rival Knicks because of their chill vibes. But he didn’t mean to imbibe that vibe on the court.
Nash’s symbolic gift on Durant’s birthday meant he’s looking forward to giving him the best gift — in June. He wants to save Durant’s legs for the more important games. But can he raise the Nets’ diminishing stock to afford that gift?
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