If you are a Brooklyn Nets fan in the Tri-state area, you are most likely in the minority. The majority of people in Manhattan are Knicks fans. Even the majority of people in their 20s in New Jersey are Knicks fans since many of their parents were Knicks fans, and many former NJ Nets fans swore off the franchise after their move to Brooklyn. It is 100% a fact that MSG is the Mecca of basketball and the Knicks are a more popular franchise, both now and historically than the Brooklyn/NJ Nets. These facts make it extremely difficult for Knicks fans and the NYC media to fully accept Durant’s choice to play for the Nets over the Knicks.
It has been close to 10 months since Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving’s announcement to sign with the Brooklyn Nets. While this shocked the entire NBA community, it had a lasting effect on New York Knicks fans and the local NYC sports media. Reasons were spun as to why KD chose the lesser popular franchise of the two; Durant and Irving couldn’t handle the spotlight at MSG, they didn’t want to take on the Knicks challenge, Kevin Durant is too sensitive, the list goes on. At the time, this was all conjecture as to why the Knicks whiffed on superstars (again). With all the information we know now, let’s break down the practical reasons as to why Durant might have chosen Brooklyn over NYC.
3 Reasons Justifying Durant’s Decision to Sign with Nets
The Ineptitude of the New York Knicks
In a recent interview with The Athletic, former Brooklyn Net Jared Dudley said that “if the Knicks are run halfway decent, they get KD and Kyrie. Like, (the Nets) literally had to do everything right and they got them.” (full article here) Dudley’s simplistic explanation makes perfect sense on the surface; the Nets, in the past 2-3 years, have been a better run organization than the Knicks. Coming off a surprising 2018-19 playoff appearance, the Nets appeared to be on the rise and growing a winning culture. The Knicks were coming off one of their worst seasons in franchise history, with no real leadership, both on the court and in the front office. Many Knicks fans will argue that no matter how messed up the front office is, the aura of the Knicks is still greater than 95% of other franchises in the NBA, but this decision proved that just being “the Knicks” will not bring in superstar level talent.
Kyrie Made the Decision (for KD) To Play in Brooklyn
Weeks before the decision, a report came out that James Dolan and the Knicks would not be interested in just retaining the services of Kyrie Irving, but would only want to bring him in if Durant joined. There were never any reports from the Nets claiming to be unhappy if they just signed Kyrie. Many feel this led to Irving’s dismissal of the Knicks and ultimately persuaded him to sign with Brooklyn. The media also felt that, because of Durant’s quiet disposition in the off-season, that Kyrie was the real decision-maker in the process. This assumption seems misguided since Durant is the more accomplished player out of the two. I believe he had had just as much of a desire to play in Brooklyn as Irving did, and he wouldn’t allow another player to make such a significant decision for him.
Durant’s Achilles Injury in 2018/19 Finals
According to Ian Begley of SNY, “some people in touch with the Knicks said members of the organization expressed confidence that Durant would have signed with New York if he hadn’t suffered the Achilles injury in the NBA Finals.” (full article here) What has never been explained, is how did the injury completely change his decision on where to sign? The Nets have boasted one of the better training and medical staffs in the league, so obviously from that standpoint, it makes sense a player coming off a serious Achilles injury would choose Brooklyn. But as to why members in the Knicks organization felt so confident Durant would have signed with NYK barring his injury, my question is why? How did they know that? The Nets had a roster that was much closer to championship aspirations than the Knicks did.
There are several other reasons one can list to justify Durant’s decision, including Deandre Jordan’s negative experience with the Knicks, and eventual signing with Brooklyn shortly after KD and Kyrie made their announcement. Durant has expressed publicly that he did not give the Knicks much consideration in free agency and I find this to be the toughest pill for the New York media and Knicks fans to swallow, as stories continue to arise that support the contrary. At the end of the day, only Kevin Durant knows the real reasons as to why he chose to play for the Nets fans instead of the Knicks. And if you are Leon Rose and the Knicks, you have to ask yourself, how do we prevent this from happening again in the future?