The announcers who cover the Nets for the YES Network agreed on Tuesday that the team’s decision to bench vaccine-resistant Kyrie Irving will benefit the basketball team and TV team in a similar way: by providing clarity.
"Your goal isn’t to lead the league in drama; that’s never the goal," play-by-play man Ian Eagle said in a video conference with reporters to promote the upcoming season. "I think what the Nets did today was to deal with this topic and hope to avoid making it a daily distraction along the way.
"This is a team sport. You have to determine what’s best for the entire team while respecting any individual’s rights and privacy. This situation affects everyone on the Nets, so it’s not a simple solution. But in my opinion, they needed to address it. There’s no playbook for this at all, and this was the necessary step to move forward.
"In my mind, what they did today actually is going to make it a lot easier for everybody to do their job, because we understand where the team stands. There’s no mystery about it."
Said analyst Sarah Kustok, "The important things that [general manager] Sean Marks brought up, both in the statement and in speaking [to reporters] today, were about the fairness to all parties. That includes the team. That includes the organization. And that includes Kyrie himself.
"Everyone had a role in the decisions that ultimately brought it to this point and where the circumstances are at. So I think for those reasons there is a real sense of clarity, of a purpose for the team. They’ve talked about winning a title, winning a championship for the team, and doing everything necessary to put themselves in the best position for that.
"Speaking from a player’s perspective and from a team perspective, you cannot overstate how much chemistry matters and building that type of connectivity and chemistry, and I think this decision right now is their way of trying to push forward in that manner in the best way they can."
Analyst Richard Jefferson added, "It is what it is. These are the rules. The NBA didn't make it. The team didn't make it. This is a city ordinance. This is something that is above a lot of people's pay grades, and these are the rules and so this is what everybody else has complied with.
"They have actually worked to try and accommodate Kyrie, but ultimately, Sean and the team came to a decision that if we're going to push toward a championship, we need everybody to be pushing in the same direction, and there's no way that the continuity of the team would be great in practice, because you're talking about road practice, you're talking about home practices, you're talking about portions of the game.
"I think it’s just to get the entire unit they're going to have pushing in one direction. We just have to see where it goes. But at this point in time, there's nothing else to say. It’s their team. This is who they're going to work with. If or when Kyrie gets the shot, he'll be added to the team with very little issues. But I don't think there's really much to talk about at this point in time."
Play-by-play man Ryan Ruocco said, "Loved the statement from the Nets. I think that for their goals, everybody needs to be going in the same exact direction. I don't think you can accommodate a player part-time to achieve what they want to achieve. And I think for us, now there is a clear organizational stance on it, so it makes it a lot easier for us to navigate on air than it would have been, or it was the last couple days."
YES Nets reporter Michael Grady said, "It's pretty simple. You know at the end of the day, this isn't a case of, well, you can just play the road games and not play at home. It’s multi-layered, and I think everybody kind of outlined that.
"From a distraction standpoint, the questions that are going to be asked to the coaching staff, the players, on everything involved from the continuity standpoint, how the other guys feel about the whole situation, this seemed to be the best call to limit the distraction."
Jefferson, who won an NBA championship as a member of the 2015-16 Cavaliers, believes the Nets can be a championship team even without Irving.
"They have depth, they have size, they have experience and two of the best players in the league, maybe one of the best and one of the top five or six," he said, referring to Kevin Durant and James Harden. "So at this point in time, the Nets have more than enough to win a championship. I think adding Kyrie makes them, in my opinion, a heavy favorite.
"I don’t think the mission has changed. They just are not at 100%. But this is what their team is, and I think that they are one of the best teams in the league. Even without Kyrie [last season], they almost took down the [eventual] champions . . . But they are far better with him, and that goes without being said."
This will be the Nets’ 10th season in Brooklyn.
"From my perspective, everything has been trending up," Eagle said. "The move to Brooklyn was a mystery for many of us that were holdovers from New Jersey because we had no idea how the team would be embraced. And each year, we've seen this buildup of interest.
"Now this 10-year period you're talking about, it’s a generation, potentially, of fans, kids that were 5, 6, 7 years old that are now 15, 16, 17 and have basketball opinions and have formed a passion for this team. I've seen it. I've seen it being around the arena.
"Obviously, last year was such an aberration based on the fact that there weren’t fans for the majority of the season, but in the playoffs and just even in the preseason game the other night, it's real. The enthusiasm is real. Kevin Durant has a lot to do with that."