Don’t look now, but the Nets are rolling. Including yesterday’s shellacking of the Wizards, they’ve won eight of their last nine matches. It’s clear that they’ve found a rhythm, and, save for the setback against the Eastern Conference-leading Celtics last week, they’re confident enough to overcome the typical off-day and stay competitive. Which, to fans who have harbored great expectations marquee names Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving arrived two and a half years ago, is a long time coming.
Not that the Nets are already insulated from failure. With close to seven-tenths of the season still left to play, and given the inherent unpredictability of their stars, it’s hard to view anything with finality. After all, even the most avid followers of the black and white have been let down by development after development, and to the point where hope is deemed an exercise in futility. Even outside of Durant and Irving, whose travails have gone beyond the confines of the court, a checklist of woes and unfortunate turns can easily be compiled.
That said, there is cause for optimism. For the first time in a long while, the Nets are humming and approximating their potential. And, needless to say, their progress is fueled by Durant, still possessing all-world skills even at 34, and Irving, undoubtedly among the most talented players in the National Basketball Association. Assuming they are able to keep their heads in their work, and assuming the others in the regular rotation led by erstwhile All-Star Ben Simmons continues to show a keen understanding of the level and manner of support required, there is reason to believe even better things are in store.
Whether the Nets can get their collective act together and contend for the hardware is anybody’s guess. The mercurial nature of the vital cogs rightly gives critics pause. On the flipside, there is the tantalizing prospect of success fueled by undeniable aptitude. And since consistency is key to eliminating any recency bias, the proof of the pudding is definitely in the eating.
Anthony L. Cuaycong has been writing Courtside since BusinessWorld introduced a Sports section in 1994. He is a consultant on strategic planning, operations and human resources management, corporate communications, and business development.