The Brooklyn Nets spent over a year waiting to see what Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving would look like together on a basketball court. Their presence alone ensured the 2020-21 season would be an eventful one.
And over the course of the past season, the Nets have been one non-stop story. From dramatic hirings to massive trades, from injuries to absences, Brooklyn endured a little bit of everything as it tried to turn its hastily constructed superteam into an NBA champion.
They fell short of that goal on Saturday night, losing on their home court in Game 7 to the Milwaukee Bucks, the toll of injuries to both Irving and James Harden too much even for a star as transcendent as Durant.
But that doesn't make the season any less memorable. For a team that's lived within the shadow cast by its neighbor across the East River, Brooklyn was, for at least this year, the center of the NBA universe.
Here's a look at how that came to be, and how the Nets navigated the many chaotic twists and turns they experienced during an unforgettable 2020-21 season.
Steve Nash introduced as Nets head coach
Nash, on Sept. 9, 2020: "Well, I did skip the line, frankly. But at the same time, I think leading an NBA team for almost two decades is pretty unique. So while I haven't necessarily learned some of the skills that I'll definitely seek to understand and learn as far as the technical aspects of coaching, I was never far from that."
When the Nets hired Nash, a Hall of Fame point guard, no one argued he didn't know basketball. But in a summer that saw several Black head coaches fired and five coaches of color beginning the 2020-21 season, there was plenty of criticism that Brooklyn hired a white man who had never even been a formal NBA assistant -- let alone a head coach -- as opposed to giving a candidate of color an opportunity to coach a team with championship aspirations.
Marks, on Sept. 9, 2020: "There's nobody that I've been around that hasn't wanted to be pressure-tested on the spot quite like Steve. He's never shied away from a moment, so when you say first-time head coach, we've seen that been done before. This guy has never run from anything. He wants the ball in his hands at the end of games, and his career spoke for itself. He's made the right decision more times than not, and the experience he'll bring here speaks volumes."
Thanks to his friendship with Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, Nash entered the job with a very strong relationship with Durant from his time working as an adviser to Golden State's program. Between his iconic career as a player and his temperament, Nash had long been seen as a strong head-coaching candidate, but had never shown an interest in pursuing a job.