The Brooklyn Nets are currently the hottest team in the NBA after their 123-106 win against the Charlotte Hornets on December 31. A big change from the 2-5 start that led to the team firing head coach Steve Nash. Since Jacque Vaughn has taken the reigns in Brooklyn, the team has gone on an impressive 22-7 run. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving recently commented on the recent run the Nets have made and the roll Vaughn has played in the shift of their season in a conversation with ESPN’s Nick Friedell.
“When we came back for this season, the start of the season, there was a lot of talk in the summertime, but for us to bring the group back together and start the year was cool,” Durant told Friedell. “And then once Jacque became the coach and we started to move forward then, obviously that was a turning point for us. Then we had some stuff that wasn’t ideal.”
Durant elaborated on some of the things that haven’t been ideal with the Nets and how refreshing the recent success has been to allow them to focus on basketball.
“Guys out the lineup, Kyrie out the lineup, James Harden demanded a trade, there was a lot of stuff that we went through. How we started from an outside perspective, the noise around our team, it’s good that we can be about ball going into this new year. We’re playing a solid brand right now, so that’s the most important thing.”
Kyrie Irving on the Impact of Jacque Vaughn
Vaughn played 12 seasons in the NBA as a point guard and won a championship with the San Antonio Spurs. Nets point guard Kyrie Irving also told Friedell that Vaughn’s experience and leadership has been helpful for him.
“He gives you an ease,” Irving told Friedell. “When you come into the locker room nothing’s forced, he’s not too high or too low. He’s just holding himself to a high standard, exemplifying what a leader should look like. So as our head coach, as our leader, I’ve been able to learn some things from him.
“And that’s just being able to have relationships with everybody and being able to get the best out of everybody. And that’s been a lesson for me; I felt like this year was just learning how to get the best out of everybody instead of trying to do it all yourself or trying to overthink the game. We’ve got good pieces in that locker room, a good coaching staff. The level of play should raise and it should get easier.”
Jacque Vaughn on Nets Handling Criticism
The Nets have had a cloud of criticism that has followed them since Durant and Irving decided to sign there. Whether it was pushing for the firing of Kenny Atkinson, the drama around Kyrie’s vaccination status, trade demands, and Irving sharing posts with antisemitic tropes that had Nets ownership contemplating releasing the All-Star point guard. Vaughn credited how the players have been able to handle criticism as one of the turning points of this season in a conversation with ESPN’s Nick Friedell.
“Our ability to take criticism and move on has really grown as a group amongst each other,” Vaughn told Friedell. “From the coach, from the coaching staff, with the sake of we’re going to get it figured out at the end of the day. So that part has been huge for our group.”