Kyrie Irving is back and for that reason history tells us that this is actually bad news for the Brooklyn Nets

Kyrie Irving has returned from a suspension. Ben Simmons has pulled off three consecutive games that reflect his past excellence. And Kevin Durant is still Kevin Durant, a formidable scoring machine averaging more than 30 points per game who is finally rid of the head coach he tried to oust over the summer.

Throw in the chance to hit a battered one Philadelphia 76ers Team on Tuesday night – and for the first time this season get their third win in a row – and good spirits emanate from the Brooklyn Networks.

Don’t fall for any of this. This Nets team has nothing to offer but disappointment and drama.

Sure, the passing buzz, a Brooklyn Nets specialty, will surely spread if Simmons has another nice outing on his return to Philly. Or when Irving, who was playing just 26 minutes after returning from an eight-game suspension for promoting an anti-Semetic video, puts in a stellar performance.

Don’t get sucked in.

The illusion may be stronger, but the farce remains the same: this talented group is a time bomb – not a title contender. They are all drama and no depth. You’re the sparkle without a real shot at the bling.

Sure, as with all things in sports, they could cause a stir. The Durant-Irving-Simmons trifecta would gel against all odds and history, and see a parade of regular-season wins giving way to a playoff run worthy of all the hype Brooklyn has had since Kyrie and KD met have teamed up.

But history, common sense, and a slew of NBA league sources say what’s more common is more of the same: drama, the contender Okey-Dokey, and an inevitable grotesque meltdown to remind us who they were all along.

Star power is a must for a championship run, but chemistry is the secret sauce that must accompany it. This is one of the reasons Warriors of the Golden Statehave dominated year after year, with or without Kevin Durant: this dressing room is full of real leaders, real faith and real togetherness – or at least it was until Draymond Green smacked teammate Jordan Poole in the face earlier this season.

This new one Los Angeles Lakers Team tells the other side of the coin – talent without cohesion can become accusations without hope.

But LeBron James, Russell Westbrook and Anthony Davis are a TED Talk about camaraderie and chemistry versus this Nets team.

Start with Irving, whose basketball presence in Brooklyn has so far fallen far short of expectations. Irving is extremely talented. But aside from playing with LeBron — a big star — in LeBron’s heyday, Irving has been a perennial favorite for just about every single team he’s been on. Literally.

This season, the Brooklyn Nets are 3-6 with their star point guard – and 5-3 without him.

It might sound like a statistical anomaly pulled from a stupidly small sample size, but dig a little deeper. Look at the facts and the lack of influence he’s had in his non-LeBron days.

In the six seasons, including this one, since Kyrie Irving has pushed his way out of the Cleveland Cavaliershis team has been better at winning percentage on the ground in just one season with him versus without him.


And that was five years ago, in his first season in Boston.

The stone-cold regular-season comparisons of Kyrie’s teams with him versus without him are notable:

So here’s the scorecard looking back over the last five seasons: He improved his team once. There was another, by win percentage, that was a dead heat. And then there were three in which he was an albatross to success.

The bad times have been more frequent lately. In three of the last four seasons, Kyrie’s presence on the ground transformed his team into a under-500 roster. That’s a sample size of 83 games over three seasons — essentially a full regular season — in which Kyrie turned a good team into a loser.

So, no, Kyrie’s drama, the best and ugliest personification of the latest self-inflicted saga, isn’t the price of its greatness. It’s a glimpse of the cost its perceived size is inflicting on its teams.

And only Kyrie.

Take Simmons, who — and it’s hard to put it kindly — instills the least level of confidence in a player’s big moments perhaps in NBA history. The missed dunk in the playoffs and then-head coach Doc Rivers throwing him under the bus afterwards may have broken him.

Yes, he’s played well in the last few games and we should all hope he thrives and proves doubters like me wrong. No player deserves to have their career ruined by the combination of physical and mental injuries that have brought them to this point. But life isn’t fair, as others like Markelle Fultz can attest.

If a large part of your plan for NBA success relies on Ben Simmons — no less in big games, when the pressure is on and his memories and weaknesses must feel 1,000 times greater — then that plan is in deep trouble.

The person asked to officiate this feast of fretfulness is Jacque Vaughn, against whom three things speak: His career record of 71-165. He has never won more than 23 games in a single season. And the fact that he was clearly Durant’s second-choice approved candidate after the Nets pulled out of hiring suspended Boston Celtics head coach Ime Udoka.

That’s not a shot at Vaughn. A Nobel Peace Prize winner might have trouble bringing this group together. But it’s hard to see a second-choice coach, clearly backed by a lone superstar, finding the secret behind this disturbing cocktail of discomfort, stress and disappointment.

Entering all of this pressure is Durant, whose talents are extreme even by historical standards. But in the NBA, we tend to stare at the stars, get caught up in what we see in them, and struggle to focus on the important details.

As with this Nets team overall, Durant is a huge talent who — aside from running with the loaded Warriors — doesn’t have a track record of winning NBA championships. It’s hard to gauge his greatness, but Durant the star has shone so brightly that we overlooked his lack of a resume apart from Stephen Curry & Co., a LeBron-like winner.

If last year’s Golden State Warriors run didn’t convince people, it’s hard to see what will, but: Curry was always the best and most important player on those Warriors teams. This always made KD the second best player on the two championship teams that KD played on.

Do you know what refutes that? Winning without Curry, just as Curry won without Durant, proved his worth as a champion, an NBA Finals MVP, and as an all-time great capable of carrying a team to the end.

Durant never did. And with this Nets team — with Kyrie Irving as a teammate, with Ben Simmons as a key figure called out in moments of pressure — he never will.

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