Brooklyn’s dynamic duo is ready to roll
Durant and Irving fit to chase NBA title in 2020-21
The green light Brooklynites have been waiting for isn’t on Boerum Place or Bay Parkway or Bedford Avenue.
Instead, it’s right in the heart of Sunset Park at the Brooklyn Nets’ HSS Training Center.
Nets general manager Sean Marks revealed this week that both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are healthy and ready to begin the chase for our borough’s first major pro sports championship since 1955 next month.
“They’ve been back in our gym now for a couple days. And being around, the feedback from our performance team and how they’ve looked, their preparing has been terrific,” Marks told the New York Post.
“They’re hungry. It goes back to what these guys set out to accomplish a year ago when they said ‘I want to come to Brooklyn. I want to be a part of this. I want to build something sustainable and do something special.’”
Marks lured both Durant and Irving here in the summer of 2019, but Nets fans have thus far been denied the opportunity to see both in action together at Downtown’s Barclays Center, be it due to injury or the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Durant, a two-time NBA Finals Most Valuable Player as well as a league MVP during his storied career, hasn’t logged a single minute for Brooklyn since inking a whopping four-year, $164 million contract with the Nets the summer before last.
He spent all of his first season in Brooklyn recovering and rehabbing from a gruesome Achilles injury suffered during the 2019 NBA Finals with the Golden State Warriors. Durant also was one of four Nets players diagnosed with COVID-19 back in March, just a week after the league had shut down.
And though many believed he may have been ready to hit the hardwood when the Nets traveled to Orlando, Florida to complete their coronavirus-abbreviated campaign, the Brooklyn hierarchy and Durant both opted to wait until this season to re-launch his career here.
“It’s been nothing short of remarkable to watch Kevin’s development and the way he’s attacked his rehabilitation over the course of the last year,” noted Marks.
“We’re all champing at the bit and very excited to see him out here, see the entire group out there.”
Irving, an NBA champion in Cleveland, only got into 20 games during his first year in Brooklyn after signing a four-year, $136 million pact due to a nagging shoulder impingement that led to season-ending surgery.
He is also expected to be in the lineup when the Nets officially kick off the 2020-21 season on Dec. 22.
Both players will be available when the Nets tip off their two-game preseason schedule on Dec. 13 against the Washington Wizards at Downtown’s Barclays Center, which will not be admitting fans until New York State’s current guidelines change.
The Nets will also travel to Boston to take on the Celtics in their exhibition finale on Dec. 18, four days before a potential season opener.
Though the NBA has yet to release the entire schedule, or even the Nets’ first opponent, Brooklynites are doubtlessly clamoring to watch two of the biggest stars of their generation take the floor together for the first time as teammates on the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush.
None more than Marks, who built this franchise from the ground up over the past five years, helping to develop talents like Spencer Dinwiddie and Caris LeVert and re-signing free agent sharpshooter Joe Harris last month.
Marks also inked veteran center DeAndre Jordan last year and added both Landry Shamet and second-round pick Reggie Perry during last month’s virtual NBA Draft.
Fan favorites like center Jarrett Allen and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, standouts during the Nets’ time in the NBA bubble, will also be back.
All those pieces should fit snugly around the superstar tandem of Durant and Irving, both of whom are on a mission to deliver the Nets’ first-ever NBA crown next summer followed by a championship parade up Flatbush Avenue with nothing but green lights ahead.
“They’re putting themselves in a great place to succeed,” Marks gushed.
Nothing But Net: John Abbamondi, CEO of Brooklyn Sports and Entertainment Global, which owns the Nets and Barclays Center and supports management of the New York Liberty, announced the hiring of five senior executives to help lead the company’s business and venue operations on Monday. BSE Global named Emerson Moore as executive vice president, chief people officer; Peter Stern as executive vice president, chief financial officer; and Jackie Wilson II as executive director of diversity and inclusion. In a pair of joint announcements with partners ASM Global and Levy, Adina Erwin was named as general manager, Barclays Center and Chris Giacalone as vice president of hospitality. “We are thrilled to welcome five top executives into our business operations,” said Abbamondi. “The executives are accomplished leaders in their respective fields, and their incredibly deep expertise will be instrumental as we prepare for an NBA season like no other. I am extremely excited and look forward to working with them to take our fan experience to the next level.”
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