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If The Lakers Are In Hell, The Nets Are Somewhere Worse

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Kevin Durant #7 of the Brooklyn Nets reacts in the fourth quarter against the Indiana Pacers at Barclays Center

Nothing says the Defector Way quite like finding a go-to topic and beating it into a thin gray paste, like ... well, like this, or this. Also this.

And that was just last week.

In short, a full-on promotable Lakers Week thanks to Comrades Thompson and Nathan doing what comes naturally. Los Angeles is tonight's loss to Denver away from asking the public and media for privacy in this difficult time.

But one neon Kick-Me sign is not enough in the modern NBA, and the hegemony of the East Coast ratings machine must be honored. There is an East Coast Lakers, it is housed in Brooklyn, and it is a different and more encompassing hot mess.

Yesterday, they lost by nine at home to the Indiana Pacers. Let that roll around in the litter box of your brain for a moment. The Indiana Pacers. They are not good yet, but they are at least pointed in a perceptible direction other than the nearest charnel house. They are awful to watch and even worse when they explain themselves. The Nets are now 1-5, give every vibe of hating who, what and where they are, and the odds on Steve Nash being the first NBA coach fired this season has just been readjusted at the Westgate Superbook to "What's keeping them?"

But that's just basketball. There is also Kyrie Irving. Again. Yes, Irving's unique worldviews, which have strangled this franchise as well as outraged ethicists, historians and most other sentient mammals, are back in play ... as though they never left. If the Lakers are the Island of Misfit Toys, the Nets are becoming Kafka with a laugh track and a wacky neighbor. Moreover, while Jeanie Buss might be in a hell of roster construction created by a multiheaded no-think tank, Joe Tsai is wondering if there is any joy in owning this team other than when the TV money rolls in.

The answer to that is obvious: No. But the money is sensational. It damned well better be, given that he spent this summer explaining billionaire leverage to Kevin Durant and addressing Irving's rampant and unapologetic anti-whatever-you-got stances. The Nets were the only team in the NBA to take a financial loss last year if this is your idea of evidence, which is chimerical in most ways but still a measure that Tsai is not only having less fun than the other owners, he is paying through the eyes for the privilege. His two most expensive and accomplished players have brought migraines by the carload, and if anything, Irving's constant doubling down on his retrograde world views are making them worse. At least Durant's issues were just about the team's basketball future, and Tsai could solve them with a calm and measured "You're going nowhere."

This isn't about whether a billionaire is having enough fun, though, nor is it about Irving's right to say whatever crackpot theory bubbles to the front of his rotting cerebral cortex next. It's about the assemblage of two teams that would have made sense on paper now making no sense in any noticeable, let alone pleasurable, way. Between them, the Lakers and Nets are proof that the three-superstars model is far more than a matter of counting to three. These are rosters that don't fit in any basketball sense, are a philosophical mosh pit and a septic tank of planning. They are 1-10 in aggregate, and may be overachieving.

But if you have to have one rather than the other and be stuck with it for the entire season, you'd probably take the Lakers. You'd make a face and spit a lot, but better them and their basketball dysfunction than the Nets and the more comprehensive revulsion they engender. This may cause the Defector editorial board, otherwise known as "The Rhinotillexis Kids," to rethink its Lakers biases, but change is sometimes good. If you can groin-shot the Lakers, you can definitely groin-shot the Nets with a running start and mountaineering shoes.

I mean, the Lakers are just in basketball hell. The Nets are that thing that hell regards as hell.

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