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Media Meltdowns

In The Game Of Basketball, One Must Be Careful To Avoid Sitting On A Whoopee Cushion While Laying An Egg

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Sports followers of all stripes are in near-unanimous agreement: The morning-after tirade from a disgusted sports columnist is one of the real delights of any situation where a big-time team has eaten shit. The over-the-top opprobrium, the personal and possibly even moral affront, the seething one-sentence paragraphs, the slathered-on clichés, and the mangled metaphors—a classic next-day columnist rant is a thing to cherish and to savor line by line, perhaps several times.

The 2022 Brooklyn Nets are perhaps the big-time-est team in the Eastern Conference, and they certainly have eaten their fair share of turds in their first-round series against the Boston Celtics. Saturday night they dumped a close one at home to fall into a deadly 3–0 hole, one from which no team in NBA history has ever recovered. Though the Nets are technically only mostly dead, it is appropriate now to consider their title aspirations in the past tense, as they themselves appear to be doing. Perhaps to you this development—a seven seed falling into an unrecoverable hole against a two seed—is normal or even good. To Vincent Goodwill, NBA writer for Yahoo Sports, the failure of the Nets to put up more of a fight in Game 3, against a much better team, and after an absolute nightmare of a regular season, was more than disappointing. It was “borderline soulless.” Hell yes!

They showed up for a first date and forgot their wallet—all that’s left is deciding who’s busting suds in the back.

Vincent Goodwill, Yahoo Sports

Goodwill, normally a reporter and blogger of mild, if orthodox, NBA takes, shows the contour-flattening sensibilities, scoopster prose, and confounding one-liners to shift into Outraged Columnist Mode, as soon as the opportunity presents itself. I swear I do not mean this as a putdown. Sports would be appreciably less fun to follow if the world were suddenly rid of deadline writers who stir themselves into a minor rage over the outcome of a game or series, sit down before a laptop, crack their knuckles, and unload their arsenal of tortured references and burns of incoherent connotation but unmistakable spice. Goodwill brought the goods to his exhilarating Sunday column:

Kevin Durant took fewer shots than Bruce Brown, a solid player but one nobody in Celtics green feared. In fact, it was probably in Ime Udoka’s master plan to have Durant confused with what he saw, turning him into a stationary target rather than the sniper he’s been for the last decade or so.

Vincent Goodwill, Yahoo Sports

If there’s one thing we all know about snipers, it is that they famously must never be stationary, and in fact do their best work while running around. Durant, thus grounded, will now face delicate leadership challenges, says Goodwill, as the Nets absorb the failures of this season, and as Kyrie Irving’s contract uncertainty looms over plans to restructure the roster for a brighter future. But don’t worry that Durant may not be able to handle this pressure: He shoots elbow jumpers several yards away from 19,000 Celtics fans who are trained to boo him!

Does Durant order the code red this offseason when Kyrie Irving will undoubtedly ask for a full max extension? Or will the Nets front office assert itself and take control of the franchise for the betterment of the franchise, and the betterment of Durant’s remaining prime?

Vincent Goodwill, Yahoo Sports

There’s been no indication that there’s any personal friction whatsoever between Durant and Irving, but I am nevertheless very much enjoying the thought of Durant sending Bruce Brown and Nic Claxton to rough up his costar with Brillo pads and a scrub brush. Besides, that Durant and Irving haven’t yet turned on one another doesn’t mean that they will not do so at some later date, as failures mount and tensions increase. After all, this situation has been, uhh, catching up to the edge of the point of no return, and then not falling (?), but also echoing ominously (??) for quite some time:

The Nets have been playing catch-up all year, looking over the edge before barely pulling themselves back from the brink. It only took a little noise in their home building to push them right back to the point of no return, and it echoed louder and louder through the night.

Vincent Goodwill, Yahoo Sports

Whatever hairy situation Goodwill is describing here, I extremely like the sound of it. As electrifying as the Nets can be when everything is going right, they are every bit as compelling as a failed project, oriented around and straining to accommodate the personalities of two of the sport’s weirdest superstars. The dynamics of this lost season and the foundering Durant-Irving era, the latter of which represents the culmination of a long, arduous, and meticulously executed organizational rebuilding process, aren’t quite like anything else we’ve seen in “arguably the NBA’s modern-day history,” which makes forming expectations and indeed wrapping your head around the complexities particularly challenging. Here, this will help:

Two championship players in the middle of their primes coming together was supposed to result in something dynastic. Instead, the team facing the most pressure in arguably the NBA’s modern-day history sat on a whoopee cushion and laid an egg.

Vincent Goodwill, Yahoo Sports

There will be more Nets takes after the team is officially eliminated, which could come as early as Monday night. Some will be sensible, some will be righteous, some will be deranged. If we’re lucky we might even get one or two juicy notebook-clearing postmortems, full of spicy anonymous quotes and illuminating insidery details. May even one of these future blogs contain anything half as good as “the team facing the most pressure in arguably the NBA’s modern-day history sat on a whoopee cushion and laid an egg.” Bravo, sir!

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