“While it is better to be loved than hated, it is also far better to be hated than ignored.” — Viet Thanh Nguyen
The Nets are the NBA’s most loaded team, but in addition it’s most loathed.
Even earlier than Kyrie Irving stomped on Lucky the Leprechaun, Brooklyn had been solid as basketball’s dangerous boys, as the league’s villains. They could also be favored by Vegas, however they’re the least favourite nearly in every single place else.
“I don’t know if we’re favored,” Nets proprietor Joe Tsai advised The Post. “I saw a poll that says we’re the most hated team around the country.”
Tsai was referring to a current BetOnline survey, the place geotagged Twitter information gathered — together with over 90,000 tweets that talked about hating a specific team — discovered Brooklyn the most disliked NBA franchise.
“The combination of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden seems to have been enough to finally flip [the] country’s hatred of the Los Angeles Lakers,” BetOnline SportsBook model supervisor Dave Mason mentioned. “It’s fascinating to see the New England space swap from being perennial Lakers haters to Nets haters, and Kyrie Irving most likely has so much to do with that.
“All in all, it’s safe to say that a lot people don’t like to see these teams win.”
In different phrases, not simply any Big 3, however this Big 3. Milwaukee has a trio of stars (Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton) however nowhere close to the degree of revulsion.
The Nets are getting the type of hate often reserved for blue-blooded royalty like the Lakers, regardless of having by no means gained a crown and residing in the cellar as not too long ago as 2016-17.
Not that they care.
“As far as how we’re viewed … just being here since March, everybody always wants to have a team to build up but also hate at the same time. There’s always that thing,” Blake Griffin mentioned. “I don’t know that we pay that a lot consideration to the villain side.
“We don’t take what everybody else is saying to heart. … So what’s being said doesn’t really bother us.”
Joe Harris has been round since the begin of the rebuild. He remembers their NBA-worst 20-62 season and watches the narrative with amusement.
“All of it is definitely interesting to me,” Harris mentioned with a chuckle. “You look over the span of the last five years … we went from being a team that was really an afterthought amongst everyone in the NBA to now this favorite, the villain, whatever you want to say.”
More like a supervillain. Imagine the response if Thanos and Darth Vader teamed as much as kill Baby Yoda, Spider-Man and a bunch of puppies. That’s the degree of venom the Nets are eliciting.
Which begs the query: Why?
Is it the narrative of shopping for a champion relatively than rising one, buying and selling for Harden and getting Griffin on the buyout market? Their perceived cavalier angle towards the common season? Being the image of participant empowerment?
Maybe all of the above. But some former gamers have an easier reply.
“When you form a super team like that, teams are gonna root against you,” defined ESPN’s Kendrick Perkins, who performed with all of the Nets’ Big 3 and mentioned they’re a giant cause they’re seen as villains.
“Lots of people are not followers of Kyrie due to a few of the issues he says off the courtroom. … Then you take a look at KD, a man who’s not afraid to go back-and-forth with folks on Twitter. He already has a historical past from when he joined the Golden State Warriors — lots of people didn’t agree with that. And now he’s with Kyrie. They’re already type of the villains.
“Then the way James Harden left Houston. It’s not what you do, it’s how you do it. The way that he treated [Stephen] Silas — African-American coach that’d been in the game for 20-plus years and finally got an opportunity. The way he handled the situation and forced his way out. That’s why people look at them as the villains.”
Fellow ESPN analyst Jalen Rose, who also does a podcast for The Post, concurred.
“Perk is exactly right, they earned it. And this is why they actually wanted to play together to me: They want to prove that they can win it all their way,” Rose mentioned. “They earned the villain role.”
Irving introduced hate from the New England sector, first bolting Boston then stomping on the Celtics brand.
But for his or her half, the Nets are shrugging off the storyline.
“I don’t even know what that means, villains. … A lot of it is just narratives. People love to talk hoops and barbershop and whatever,” coach Steve Nash mentioned. “It’s not like we did anything illegal. I don’t know what we’re supposed to do, not try to add to our roster, and just sit pat? That’s the idea of this league is to try to put together the best team you can.”
They’ve achieved precisely that, even when they earned enmity with how they did it.
But after years of being an afterthought, Nets followers don’t thoughts.
Irina Pavlova, who was former Nets proprietor Mikhail Prokhorov’s consultant in Brooklyn — and led the GM search that discovered Sean Marks — suffered by way of the down years when no person seen the Nets sufficient to root towards them.
She prefers this.
“Somehow being hated,” Pavolva tweeted, “feels so much better than being laughed at.”