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Kyrie Irving warned everyone what was coming.
When Irving and Kevin Durant transformed the Nets with their arrival as free agents two years back, the signings were no-brainers, but they weren’t slam dunks. There were risks the long-ignored franchise happily — and understandably — accepted in exchange for potential championships and unprecedented branding power.
Durant was the league’s best player, but he was about to turn 31 and had ruptured his Achilles only weeks earlier. He was nearly certain to miss at least one season — of a four-year deal, which granted him the freedom to leave after three seasons — and offered no guarantee he would look like an MVP after the injury. Those issues have since been erased. In the past year, Durant has since reclaimed the title of the world’s best player — eventual NBA Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo acknowledged it during last season’s playoff matchup — and signed an extension to keep him in Brooklyn through 2026.