Brooklyn Nets: What the 7/11 era actually accomplished

Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn Nets (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn Nets (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /

The 7/11 era has officially come to an end.

Earlier this week, The Brooklyn Nets finalized a trade that sent All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving (and forward Markieff Morris) to the Dallas Mavericks in exchange for Spencer  Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-Smith, an unprotected 2027 first-round pick, and an unprotected 2029 second-round pick. The move marks the conclusion of both Irving’s time in Brooklyn and his on-court partnership with fellow superstar, Kevin Durant.

It’s easy to view the experiment as a failure, but it should not be forgotten that the pairing woke up Nets World, and helped make Brooklyn a legitimate NBA Finals threat for the first time since the early 2000s when the team resided in New Jersey.

The Durant-Irving Nets era was a disappointment.

In the immediate aftermath of the news, many have rushed to label the Durant-Irving era as an utter disgrace. The logic is hard to argue with. The two only played 74 games with each other, failed to win a championship, and only won a single playoff series together. Off the court, Irving could never seem to see eye-to-eye with General Manager Sean Marks or Owner Joe Tsai.

Multiple controversies arose as a result of both his own stubbornness and the front office’s unwillingness to give an inch. All of the turmoil has also called Durant’s future into question. He requested a trade this past summer after growing unhappy with management. While he later rescinded, it is still entirely possible that he will want out at some point.

No one could have predicted that this would be the outcome of what was figured to be a dynamic duo. The fan base was ecstatic when Durant and Irving signed with the Nets in the summer of 2019. They finally felt like a force to be reckoned with, and the feeling was even sweeter considering the crosstown New York Knicks unsuccessfully attempted to land the two free agents.

We never saw the combination’s full potential, but there was always a lingering idea that ‘if’ they could stay healthy and available, they’d be able to make a serious run at an NBA Finals appearance. After trading for James Harden before the 2021 trade deadline, Brooklyn almost lived up to this expectation.

When Harden, Irving, and Durant played together, it was truly dynamic. Injuries stifled the Nets towards the end of the 2020–2021 season, and after Harden was traded less than a year later, Brooklyn still found a way to claw into the playoffs with a banged-up Durant and a controversial Irving.

The Boston Celtics swept the Nets, but leading up to the series, no one was ready to completely write Brooklyn off. Fans and pundits alike felt that the combination of Irving and Durant would at least be able to put up a fight against a defensive-driven Celtics squad.

Grading the Kyrie Irving blockbuster trade. dark. Next

If nothing else, the 7/11 era energized a franchise and a fan base that had longed to be taken seriously. The irony, of course, is that the Nets became a circus in the process. Make no mistake, though, there were 29 other NBA teams that feared its two main attractions every step of the way.