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Jastremski: First round flop for drama-filled Nets

On Monday, the Nets chaotic and disappointing 2021-2022 season came to a close with a major thud.

At the beginning of the year, the Nets were title favorites.

There was no possible way the Nets could be a 7 seed and get swept in the first round right?

Believe it.

In fact the Nets are the first preseason title favorite to be swept in the first round ever.

So, the preseason narrative would have suggested that there is no way the Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets would be comparable teams.

After all, the Nets took down the Celtics in 5 games in the first round a season ago.

Well, the Nets and Celtics weren’t comparable teams this year.

The Celtics were flat out better.

The Celtics taking down Brooklyn shouldn’t surprise anyone who watched NBA Basketball over the last four months.

The Celtics played as a team, got better as the season went along and looked like a group that had cohesion and unity.

The Nets featured none of those qualities.

It’s tough to have cohesion when the so called “Big 3” of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden is broken up midseason.

It’s tough to have top notch team chemistry when Kyrie Irving missed almost all of your home games because of the vaccine mandate.

Plus the kicker, Ben Simmons the headliner in the midseason Harden blockbuster didn’t find his way into one Nets game this season.

You lay out that adversity plus the injury to sharp shooter Joe Harris and it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the Nets fell well short of their championship or bust goal.

The reality for the Nets franchise is simple going into this summer, the past three years haven’t been good enough.

If I told a Nets fan after the Durant/Irving signings in the summer of 2020 that their team wouldn’t have seen a title, an NBA Finals appearance or a Conference Final three years later, they wouldn’t have believed me.

The franchise and their two best players Durant and Irving have fallen short of very lofty expectations.

Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving were outplayed by Jayson Tatum and Marcus Smart in this series.

How was Brooklyn supposed to have a chance against this dangerous Celtics team when it’s two star players weren’t leading the way.

The Nets window is not fully closed, but it’s closing fast.

Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are not getting any younger.

Who knows what Ben Simmons will add if anything to the Nets next season?

Can Steve Nash lead the team as a championship caliber coach, for my money the jury is very much still out on that.

Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving can still write a happily ever after ending to this story, but they better start re-writing the script now.

Three years in, Nets fans haven’t gotten enough bang for their buck.

You can listen to my podcast New York, New York every Sunday & Thursday plus my picks on The Ringer Gambling Show every Tuesday & Friday on The Ringer Podcast Network on Spotify & Apple Podcasts. You can also watch me nightly on SNY’s Geico Sportsnight.

New York, New York: Put Up Or Shut Up For Rollercoaster Nets

Did anybody place a wager on the Brooklyn Nets to be participating in the NBA Play In Round at the beginning of the season?

If you did, you’re a genius and you would’ve been on an island all by yourself.

The Brooklyn Nets entered the season as one of the title favorites according to Vegas and NBA pundits.

After all, the only thing that derailed the team a season ago was injuries to Kyrie Irving and James Harden, right?

Well, the 2021-22 team has had plenty of adversity to deal with, not just injuries.

Drama has been the MO of this franchise over the last three seasons. It’s always something for this Brooklyn crew.

This year, the black cloud hovering over the franchise from game 1 was the vaccination status of Kyrie Irving.

As we know, Kyrie didn’t get the COVID vaccine, missed a good chunk of the season and only recently started playing in home games at the Barclays Center.

Irving’s vaccination status put the Nets in a very tough predicament.

It’s tough to win in the NBA without your best players and the Nets played plenty of games without Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant.

In addition, they were forced to trade James Harden in late January because he was tired of being a Net. Why exactly? Who knows, but the big 3 from a season ago was down to 2.

To Durant and Irving’s credit, when they have been on the floor together, they’ve been spectacular to watch.

Durant is the best player in the league and Kyrie is probably in the top 15.

With those two on your roster, you are going to have a chance in any playoff series that you play.

After all, there’s a reason why the odds makers have the Nets listed as the third favorite to win the NBA title. That’s pretty remarkable considering they’re a part of the Play In Tournament.

The odds makers believe a team with Durant and Irving is dangerous and can beat anyone.

That is true, what’s also true is that the Nets roster as a team hasn’t come close to forming the same sort of chemistry and unison that you will see from some of the other contenders within the Eastern Conference.

After all, the Nets are discussing the idea of Ben Simmons playing a role in the postseason! The same Ben Simmons who has yet to appear in a game so far this year.

Despite their talent, I am skeptical that a team that developed very little chemistry throughout the regular season is just going to be able to turn it on to go and win an NBA title.

Go prove it.

It’s all in front of the Brooklyn Nets. Will this rollercoaster season end with a trip to the finals that was predicted by many at the start of the season?

Or will it be a script of a talented cast that just is not meant to be champions together…

This is a plot too Hollywood for Brooklyn.

You can listen to my podcast New York, New York every Sunday, Tuesday & Thursday on the Ringer Podcast Network on Spotify & Apple Podcasts. You can also watch me nightly Sun/Thurs on Geico Sportsnight at 11 PM on SNY.

Pol Position: Mandatory for some, but not for others

NYC Mayor Eric Adams claims that his recent decision to lift the COVID-19 vaccination mandate is an attempt to bring back the city’s illustrious “nightlife” that “the city that never sleeps“ is and has always been known for.

“We’re going to keep our nightlife industry thriving, a $35.1 billion industry. By putting our home teams on equal playing fields we increase their chances of winning and that has a real impact on our city. It’s not just fans in the stands, it’s people in the stores. Every time a championship or a game is played here it’s a boost of $11 million into our economic impact during the playoff season,” Adams said in his press conference. “Expanding this exemption, which only applies to a small number of people, is crucial.”

While the announcement comes just in time for the upcoming NBA playoffs and MLB 2022 season, many New Yorkers are in an uproar that Hizzoner is caving in to the pressure from celebrity holdouts, including Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets and Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees, who have both expressed their disinterest in taking the vaccine which many city workers have been forced to take at risk of losing their job.

NYC Council Speaker Adrienne Adams said that this sends the wrong message to the city that athletes and celebrities making millions of dollars each year are exempt while so many others have been losing their jobs.

“This exemption sends the wrong message that higher-paid workers and celebrities are being valued as more important than our devoted civil servants, which I reject. This is a step away from following sensible public health-driven policies that prioritize equity,” Speaker Adams said.

In the Mayor’s defense:

The entertainment industry was one facet of New York City living that experienced a significant blow from the COVID-19 pandemic. Hundreds of people lost their jobs when concert venues and arenas were shut down due to the virus.

Stagehands and union employees who put in the work to ensure that these concerts and events were able to function properly have been out of work for a very long time, and are eager to go back.

Since the mandate was enforced many performances scheduled to take place in New York City have been canceled or postponed indefinitely.

According to a report made by NYS Comptroller DiNapoli last year, employment in arts, entertainment and recreation declined by 66 percent as of December 2020, representing the largest decline among one of the City’s most valued economic sectors.

While there are many who are opposed to the Mayor’s recent announcement, it’s important from the standpoint of economic recovery to bring back these institutions where so many people have traditionally been employed.

Vendors, security, and stagehands have all had to go without work, and two years later, several have had to make difficult decisions in order to make ends meet.

In defense of the mandate:

The mayor’s kowtowing to the demands of rich ballplayers who refuse to observe the mandate enforced on city employees may allow for there to be a 2022 MLB season but it could lead to rifts between the city and municipal workers that feel they were strong-armed into falling in line with the vaccine requirement.

Healthcare workers were the most impacted by this requirement. When the mandate first came into effect, many of the essential workers who helped treat the sick at the start of the pandemic suddenly found themselves in a predicament. Many felt they were made to choose, risking their jobs by holding out on taking the shots.

Earlier this week, The New York Post spoke with an unvaccinated Harlem resident who was sent home from her job as a waitress at Citi Field because she didn’t want to get the shot. According to the Citi Field employee, Elissa Embree, she hasn’t been vaccinated because she had two miscarriages and is worried that the vaccine could possibly increase her risk for another.

“I’m not as important as a Met is, because a Met will fill Citi Field, which fills the coffers of New York,” Embree said in the article. “They don’t care about little ol’ me, who pays middle-class taxes. The elusive ‘they’ don’t care that I have been out of work and that I have been at my breaking point.”

While the CDC states that there is no definitive evidence showing that the COVID-19 vaccine causes any such fertility problems, her overall frustration with the franchise echoes the remarks of numerous other NYC workers who have been pushed out of their job due to the mandate.

Presently, more than 1,400 NYC municipal workers lost their jobs for refusing to take the vaccine.

Free playoff tickets, vaccines at Barclays Center

A return to the playoffs is a testament to how far the Brooklyn Nets have come since its move to the borough in 2012. Now, it will also serve as a testament to how far New York City has come in its own battle against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last week, the Nets announced a new partnership with the mayor’s office and mobile medical service provider DocGo to bring a vaccination site to a location across the street from Barclays Center.
The site will offer free vaccines to qualified individuals ages 12 and older the day before and the day of any Nets home playoff games.The program will last as long as the Nets are in the postseason, and everyone vaccinated at the site will be automatically entered into a lottery for free tickets to a home playoff game.
“Providing Nets fans and our community with quick and convenient access to vaccines is crucial in continuing to open both our arena and local businesses safely,” said Mandy Gutmann, senior vice president of Communications and Community Relations at BSE Global, the company that operates Barclays Center. “We appreciate the mayor’s office and DocGo for making this important initiative possible.
“Additionally, after the incredibly challenging year that many have experienced, we are looking forward to teaming up with the Task Force on Racial Inclusion and Equity to distribute Nets playoff tickets to fully vaccinated individuals,” she added. “It is our hope that this effort will not only build excitement around the NBA Playoffs, but promote the benefits of becoming vaccinated.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke about the program during a recent press conference, comically donned a Nets jersey under a blue dress shirt.
“This is going to be another extraordinary effort to get people vaccinated and keep everyone safe,” said de Blasio. “Go there, get vaccinated and enter the lottery.”
The new vaccine site is specifically designed for residents from the 33 neighborhoods that have been identified by the City’s Task Force on Racial Inclusion and Equity as the hardest hit by the pandemic.
These include Bed-Stuy, Bushwick, East New York, Sunset Park, Coney Island, Flatbush, Midwood, Brownsville, and Canarsie. Residents from these neighborhoods who have already been vaccinated may still enter the lottery by visiting the vaccine site.
Walk-up appointments will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Appointments can also be made in advance by visiting vaccinefinder.nyc.gov and selecting “Barclays Center: Modell’s” as the site.

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