A couple of days ago, Stefan Bondy spoke on former Boston Celtic and newly acquired New York Knick, Marcus Morris, and his thinking on why the locker room dynamics will be the difference in Madison Square Garden vs. TD Garden.
“The teams are different. We don’t have that one guy where it’s like, okay, he’s first,” Morris said. “It’s a team thing. No knock on Ky, but obviously he’s a superstar, he’s first. Sometimes his emotions were put in front of the team. I think here, we’re all transparent with each other. We can all go up to each other and be honest with each other. That’s the biggest thing, when you can go out and speak to your brother.”
Morris feels that there will be no special treatment, and that will create ease in any tension when trouble arises. Players will be acknowledged and more comfortable to call out.
That may have been one of the problems with the Boston Celtics locker room, but I don’t expect that will be the case for Kyrie Irving and the Brooklyn Nets.
A big reason for this is the man in question himself, Kyrie Irving. Over the past few months, Irving has acknowledged many things. He admitted he has high expectations, expectations he didn’t exactly live up to last season. He was candid in his assessment of himself as a leader. He told us of his internal struggles with personal issues, while not giving himself an out as an excuse. Kyrie has said a lot of the right things, whether in concerns to himself, the team, or the tensions between the league and China. I don’t believe he’s had a misstep yet. These are all signs of a man who has done soul searching and has grown with the lessons that life has given. Also, he was there in the Boston locker room to see first hand what happened and what part he played in all of it. If anyone can keep history from repeating itself there, it’s him.
The other person that comes to mind in all of this is Coach Kenny Atkinson. Through the years in Brooklyn, Atkinson does not seem like the kind of coach to let players get much if any special treatment. Before Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant blessed the borough of Brooklyn with their presence, we didn’t exactly have an abundance of star/superstar players while in the Kenny Atkinson Era.
Well, that was until last year when D’Angelo Russell fully emerged. But even being a top 3 pick in his draft, D’Angelo Russell should’ve had some pull that most players did not. He was probably the consensus best talent on the team, which is why he’d be a top 3 pick. But all that did not matter to Kenny Atkinson. Russell had to work long and hard for every minute of playing time he was given.
There were a lot of games where Russell watched his team in the fourth quarter. There were a lot of games where D’Angelo was seated next to Kenny as he watched his teammates fight the good fight.
Now I’m not saying D’Lo is a star on the level of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant but based off what we’ve seen from Kenny Atkinson. I can’t see him allowing the locker room to fracture or players to feel alienated because his team feels that he favors a player too much. But we’ll see throughout the season now, won’t we?