While there are still things yet to play out in the final weeks before the start of the 2021-22 season, the Lakers and Nets figure to be the two top leading title contenders. With each team heading into the season with a star-studded Big Three, all eyes will be on the teams on opposite coasts.
The storylines between the two teams make the duel between the two all the more intriguing. Kyrie Irving and LeBron James’ history goes back to their days in Cleveland. Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Kevin Durant have similar types of links from their time together in Oklahoma City as well.
Adding to those storylines to a lesser degree was the departure of DeAndre Jordan from Brooklyn and his subsequent signing with the Lakers. In speaking to the media after being introduced as a Laker, Jordan downplayed the idea that his move from Brooklyn to Los Angeles added more fuel to the first between the two contending rivals.
“I think it’s just basketball, man,” Jordan said. “You have a lot of friends in this league and you have a lot of guys that you compete against, and when you’re on the floor, this is somebody that you want to beat regardless of if you’re friendly or not. But off the floor those relationships and those bonds will stay strong. I think that I’m just excited to be a part of a team that’s chasing a championship. Just like I’m sure there are a handful of other teams that are doing the same thing.
“But just to be able to be with a team like this with guys that you respect and guys that you’ve competed against for going on 14 seasons has been great. And seeing ‘oh, I wonder what it would be like to play with this guy,’ you always think about that whether you tell people or not, and now being able to have that opportunity I think it’s going to be great.”
Considering how deep the relationships are between Jordan and players in Brooklyn like Irving and Durant, any move Jordan made wasn’t going to damage that relationship. All the players involved also are well aware of the NBA being a business and don’t take moves personally as well.
Still, that won’t stop fans — and media — from adding Jordan’s coastal switch as another part of the storylines between the two franchises. All of it will add up to a Christmas Day showdown between the two teams that figures to be one of the most-watched games of the season and one that, fair or foul, will likely feature Jordan amongst the storylines.