Matt Sullivan recently took to Reddit to conduct an AMA, or “Ask Me Anything.” He’s been doing some behind-the-scenes journalism within the Brooklyn Nets organization for the past few years and shared some interesting stories and information from his time.
He recently published a book called “Can’t Knock the Hustle” in which he details the Brooklyn Nets story focusing mainly on the 2019-20 NBA season. He was close with Kevin Durant, was right there for all the crazy Kyrie stories, and was on top of everything else that happened within the organization. The book has brought to light many things that go on behind the scenes not only in Brooklyn but across the NBA.
In the AMA, he talked a little bit about player empowerment. During his time with the Brooklyn Nets, he learned just how much power superstars have.
What struck me in my year-and-a-half embedded with the Nets (and interviewing hundreds of people across the NBA) was that the superstars get sign-off on so many big decisions, including when to cut loose a player based on factors like personality fit and even personal politics, not just skill.Matt Sullivan
After the bubble around the teams, he had a conversation with Garrett Temple about whether or not to boycott it. Garrett Temple didn’t want to, he thought the players would be in a better position if they went and played. Kyrie, one of the team’s superstars, felt the opposite. The end result was Garrett feeling like Kyrie might not want him on the team anymore.
“Players in the leadership, if you go against what they want you to do, then they won’t want you back… If that’s the case, then I don’t wanna be on this team…. But Kyrie is the enigma of the century, so who knows?�Garrett Temple
According to Sullivan, Kyrie and Durant’s decision to team up was in the works well before the now-infamous All-Star Game clip.
Kyrie apparently led the decision to choose the Nets over the Knicks, because he grew up in New Jersey as a Nets fan. Sullivan also mentioned that Kyrie was “really pissed off” that Durant played in the Finals. Kyrie wasn’t happy that the Warriors organization let his friend and future teammate play, and injure himself.
He was also asked about what he had to cut from the book well editing. He mentioned an interesting tidbit surrounding the 2013 Nets-Celtics trade. This trade netted the Celtics an aging Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce in exchange for a load of draft picks. Apparently, Billy King was hoping that it could be a long con to lure Durant to Brooklyn in 2013. They could get some stars and make the playoffs for a few years. After that Kevin might be impressed by a “winning franchise” and sign with Brooklyn.
When asked about Kyrie’s unceremonious exits from Cleveland and Boston he gave some answers. Kyrie was a little fed up with playing second fiddle to LeBron in Cleveland, which is why he left. He chose Boston as his destination to be the leader of a team. In Boston, it sounds like his grandfather’s death hit him very hard and gave him a different view on life. At that point, he saw life as much more important than basketball.
“In Cleveland, Kyrie got sick of the “little brother” routine from LeBron, and so he wanted to control a franchise on his own terms … They’re more open to citing the sudden death of Kyrie’s grandfather as a motivating factor for leaving Boston, even after he’d promised Celtics fans that he’d re-sign. From that difficult moment, as Kyrie would later tell KD, “life became way more important than basketball. Anything I was doing in basketball, I didn’t really care.”Matt Sullivan
Matt Sullivan’s AMA brought some intriguing new stories to the fore. It shows a lot about how the modern NBA runs, and the player empowerment era, which is perfectly encapsulated by this Brooklyn Nets team.