Star calls ‘bulls***’ on NBA conspiracy
The Brooklyn Nets dropped an NBA bombshell on the weekend when coach Kenny Atkinson and the team “mutually parted ways”.
After signing superstar duo Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, hopes were high in Brooklyn, especially after finishing sixth in 2018-19 and surprising the league.
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But with Durant already out of the season from last years’ NBA Finals with an achilles injury and Irving in and out of the side with injuries, playing in only 20 of the team’s 63 games, the season was never going to be the Nets’ to strike.
While the Nets are currently seventh in the eastern conference and six games ahead of the ninth placed Washington Wizards, the side cut ties with their coach with Brooklyn releasing a statement which said the parties “mutually agreed that a coaching change would be in the best interest of the team”.
While the statement also thanked him for “developing our players and building and culture we have become known for”, Atkinson’s sacking has been laid at the feet of Irving.
CBS Sports reported “his fingerprints are all over the Nets’ drama” while suggesting Irving has been historically difficult to work with, dating back to when he forced his way out of the Cavaliers and LeBron James’ shadow.
How many coaches you get fired this week Kyrie?Source:Getty Images
Yahoo Sports’ Vincent Goodwill reported that Irving wanted Tyronn Lue, who coached him at Cleveland. He also reported Atkinson wanted out just as much Irving wanted him out.
It’s far from the only suggestions that Irving and Durant were behind the axing.
But fellow star DeAndre Jordan took aim at the reports after the Nets defeated the Bulls 110-107 on Monday (AEDT).
Jordan, who said he was close with the superstar pair, said lashed out at the idea that the new players had forced Atkinson out.
“I think … whatever the reports are, are bulls***,” Jordan said. “I’m close with Kyrie, but Wilson (Chandler) is a new player, Garrett Temple’s a new player. We’re all new players. So if you’re going to say new players, put it on all eight of the new players.”
General manager Sean Marks insisted on Saturday the decision did not involve the players but said Atkinson had admitted, “My voice is not what it once was here”.
Jordan said it was surprising even to the players that Atkinson left the team.
“I was definitely shocked,” he said. “I thought Kenny did a great job with us. This is my first year with him obviously and the guys who had been here love him, so I’m sure it’s tough for them. But at the end of the day, this is a business. Coaches get fired, players get cut, traded, whatever it is. So we still have a job to do.”
LEBRON FLEXES IN LA DERBY
LeBron James closed out a weekend to remember. First, he out-duelled Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks in a match-up of NBA conference leaders. Then he kept the Los Angeles Lakers rolling with a victory over the streaking Clippers.
James had 28 points, seven rebounds and nine assists Sunday in 112-103 victory that ended the Clippers’ six-game winning streak.
He put up 37 points, eight rebounds and seven assists Friday against the Bucks.
“His best weekend in a Lakers uniform I’m assuming,” first-year coach Frank Vogel said. “I wasn’t here last year but, in my mind, this was the best two-game stretch. Really just dominated both games and helped close them out.”
LeBron engages beast mode.Source:Getty Images
The Lakers won their fourth in a row and 11th in 12 games. Anthony Davis scored 30 points and Avery Bradley added 24.
“It’s a really good weekend for us, playing against two of the best teams, the top two teams in the league with us as far as record-wise,” James said. “I just think we kept our composure throughout the whole game.”
The Lakers recently clinched a playoff berth for the first time since 2013, and it’s possible they could meet the Clippers in the post-season.
The crowd made it feel like a playoff atmosphere, with a strong contingent of raucous Lakers fans on hand for what was a Clippers’ home game.
They chanted “MVP! MVP!” when James completed a 3-point play that tied the Lakers’ largest lead of 12 points with 40 seconds to play.
The Clippers led 53-49 at halftime with their largest lead of nine coming in the second quarter.
“Just trying to come out in the second half and not let the game get away from us,” Davis said. “We wanted to make sure we come out with a little bit more offensive intensity and aggression.”
Paul George scored 31 points, Kawhi Leonard added 27 and Montrezl Harrell had 20 for the Clippers. They lost to the Lakers for the first time in three games this season.
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