Kevin Durant's and Kyrie Irving's arrival spells Nets shedding label of 'Little Engine that Could'

Rick Laughland

You can't call the Brooklyn Nets The Little Engine that Could anymore.

Signing Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving has a way transforming a franchise that before the free agent frenzy was quietly minding its own business and ascending the rankings in the Eastern conference step by step.


A franchise that has had a nomadic existence to say the least.

From Teackneck New Jersey, to Commack, Long Island to West Hempstead, New York to Uniondale, New York to Piscataway, New Jersey to East Rutherford, New Jersey to Brooklyn, New York, the Nets are well traveled to say the least.

Stay tuned to for updates on Kevin Durant's injury. #nba #nets

— Rick Laughland (@ricklaughland) July 24, 2019

Teaneck Armory Teaneck, New Jersey 1967–1968
Long Island Arena Commack, New York 1968–1969
Island Garden West Hempstead, New York 1969–1972
Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum Uniondale, New York 1972–1977
Rutgers Athletic Center Piscataway, New Jersey 1977–1981
Brendan Byrne Arena (1981–1996),
renamed Continental Airlines Arena (1996–2007),
renamed Izod Center (2007–2010) East Rutherford, New Jersey 1981–2010
Prudential Center Newark, New Jersey 2010–2012
Barclays Center2012-present

The Nets have played in ten different arenas in their 52-year existence and have always been the second act to their Manhattan counterparts playing at Madison Square Garden. Both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving were heavily rumored to be interested in joining the Knicks only to ultimately sprurn James Dolan and the clown show at the "World's Most Famous Arena" and join the up and coming Brooklyn squad.

The Nets have always been an afterthought in their own city. Hardly talked about on the local radiowaves, television or online. Whether the Knicks are good, bad, or ugly, they're always frontpage material, while the Nets are most times not even backcover worthy. Even during the Jason Kidd era with the then-New Jersey Nets; making consecutive finals appearances, the franchise struggled to draw fans and sellout its home arena on the NBA's grandest stage.

Now, the Nets, not the Knicks, will be the hottest ticket in town with ticket prices and demand for season ticket packages expected to be at an all-time high at Barclays Center. According to Vegas Insider, the Nets are currently listed at 40/1 odds to win the NBA title and 12/1 to win the Eastern Conference. Not too shabby for a franchise that was simply hoping and praying to reach the 30-win plateau just two seasons ago.

Those title odds are based on the increasing likelihood that Kevin Durant won't return this season. While there's an outside chance that Durant could return for a playoff run, the Nets championsip window likely starts in 2020. General manager Sean Marks brilliantly assembled a roster that, at the very least, can be in the mix to come out of the East.

In the short-term, the Nets want the dynamic duo of Irving and Durant to deliver the Larry O'Brien trophy that has eluded them for over five decades. Bigger picture, the Netslanding two of the game's premier players changes the entire perception of the franchise from the outside looking in.

Brooklyn is now considered a free agent destination, which was never the case in the first few years at the Barclays Center and certainly during the 35 years in the Garden State. For once, the Nets are the bigger brother; they're Goliath with some big guns to deal some damage to the rest of the league. It's not a position the organization has often been in and it's not one that Nets fans are accustomed to dealing with. So while expectations will be riding high and the Brooklyn squad will have lofty goals for the first time in a long time, this offseason marks a changing of the organization's complexion and a complete revitalization of the Nets for years to come.