If reports are to be believed, the Christmas Day schedule of the National Basketball Association adds insult to injury for the Nets. Already reeling from the prospect of going through the 2022-2023 season without any as-surance that Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, their top players, would be suiting up, they have found themselves victimized anew by the uncertainty. Those tasked with putting together protagonists for the league’s tradition-al Dec. 25 quintupleheader have evidently crossed them off the list.
Not that the NBA is wrong. The Nets would, after all, be pushovers without Durant and Irving burning rubber; heck, they went one and done in the 2022 Playoffs after being swept by the Celtics even with the two seeing con-siderable action. And make no mistake: The NBA is about putting backsides in seats and ensuring that eyeballs stay glued to the screen. The likes of Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, and Patty Mills don’t move the needle at all.
It’s too bad, really, because the Nets are otherwise must-see fare, both on and off the court. Were Durant and Irving able to suit up for certain, they would be no-brainers for the Holiday spectacle. Instead, they’ll be on the out-side looking in. If it’s any consolation, they’re not alone; the Hawks have likewise been uninvited to the party. They’ve been replaced by the Grizzlies and the Sixers, and not without reason.
At this point, it’s no longer a question of whether the Nets will continue to suffer from the turmoil they’re facing. It’s for how long — which is to say unless and until Durant and Irving definitely stay or go. They don’t deserve the outcome, not when they did everything right in claiming the two three years ago, and not when everything looked hunky-dory even just a couple of months ago. And while they may be right to hold on until they ensure commen-surate returns, they have no choice but to absorb all the negatives that come with staying the course.
ANTHONY L. CUAYCONG has been writing Courtside since BusinessWorld introduced a Sports section in 1994. He is a consultant on strategic planning, operations and Human Resources management, corporate communications, and business development.