There used to be three All-NBA players who all came together to play on a team called the Brooklyn Nets.

Many expected such a team to win the Eastern Conference in a hurry and possibly several titles behind its trio Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden, but these players played only 16 games together for injuries and eventually a trade request from Harden.

Harden didn’t want the only drama in Brooklyn. In a year, Durant and Irving will be away from the Nets too, and Harden had something to say Saturday after his Philadelphia 76ers got the Nets 101-98.

When asked by reporters if he could imagine Durant and Irving disappearing with the Nets next time, Harden said “yes,” then added “I didn’t just ask for no reason to leave… I’m glad about the organization and what they brought back. You’ve got some really good pieces.”

Later, Harden added a few choice remarks about the circumstances and perception of his exit, particularly that recent events mean he no longer looks like the madman:

“It was just a big malfunction. Clearly. But it was a lot of internal stuff that I’m never gonna say, put on the media or anything. And that’s one of the reasons I chose to make my decision. But now, fast to date, I don’t look like the crazy one. I don’t look like the guy or whatever the media calls me. I knew what was going on, and I decided — hey, I’m not built for it. I don’t want to deal with it. I want to play basketball and have fun and have fun doing that. And quickly for today, they have a new list.”

Irving, of course, lost significant time due to his unvaccinated status last season, as he was not allowed to play at home for much of the season due to New York City laws. Irving also had an unexpected and mysterious interruption in the 2020-21 season, which began immediately before the networks switched to Harden.

Despite the apparent dysfunction in the short-lived Durant Irving-Harden era, The Beard said the Nets might still have recovered their potential.

“Yes, there were a lot of things” he told reporters when he asked if there was anything the Nets could have done to keep him. “But it was just a big malfunction. Clearly… And that was one of the reasons why I chose to make my decision.”

Harden found himself a raft and made his move before the ship was wrecked, that is.

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