The summer of 2010 will always stand out as one of the NBA’s monumental free agency periods. As a heap of big ticket contracts expired, many teams around the league cleared space to attract them. Indeed there were so many free agents on the market, and so many organizations grappling for their services, that it’s only natural to wonder how things might have gone differently — to fantasize about the various permutations of talent that never happened.
Dwyane Wade, like the rest of that summer’s free agent class, met with a number of teams before settling back in Miami to form the “super team” we now know and fear. There were flirtations, though, and when Wade was asked before the Nets-Heat game last week to reflect on his dalliance with the then-New Jersey Nets in 2010, he had the following to say:
Dwyane Wade’s biggest take away from his 2010 free-agent meeting with the Nets: “Jay-Z wasn’t there. He was there for LeBron.”
That’s it. Jay-Z wasn’t there. He had other stuff going on, as it happened. Now, Dwyane is and was an adult, and we can assume that the mere presence of one of his favorite rappers/NBA minority owners wouldn’t have been enough to sway him. Little things can make a difference, though, and given the rippling nature of that free agent market, one wonders how a single minute difference could have caused a chain reaction that would have altered the course of NBA history. It’s like “The Butterfly Effect,” but with slightly less dog murder.
If we may:
July 1, 2010: Jay-Z postpones a tour date in France to accompany Nets officials in a meeting with Dwyane Wade. The only input he offers is “It’s your boy!,” which just floors Dwyane. “It IS my boy,” thinks Dwyane to himself later that night.
July 5, 2010: After a weekend spent meeting with all his suitors, Dwyane phones LeBron James. The two have privately discussed teaming up for some time, and they contemplate their options. LeBron suggests Miami, but Dwyane — Nets meeting in mind — declares that he’s ready for a change of scenery and counters with a vision of the two of them and Jay-Z being bros in Brooklyn once the Nets move.
July 8, 2010: LeBron and Dwyane hold a “Decision” television special together. In a conversation with Jim Gray, the two announce in unison: “This fall we’re going to take our talents to the Garden State and join the New Jersey Nets,” except LeBron botches the “New Jersey” part and accidentally says “Brooklyn.” Everybody knows the Nets are moving, but people still freak out about the gaffe for like three weeks.
July 9, 2010: The Heat complete sign-and-trades for both Chris Bosh and Carlos Boozer, thus creating the most despised frontcourt in the NBA.
July 24, 2010: Somewhere in Provence, Johan Petro hangs up on a phone call with his agent. Having been told that no NBA teams are seeking his services, Johan solemnly paces outside to tend to his garden and clear his head. While tilling a plot of soil for his aubergines, Johan’s hoe strikes a hard object. Johan gingerly digs around the object, eventually discerning what appears to be a whole human body wrapped heavily in gauze and crawling with maggots. It smells foul, and it kind of seems like it’s making noises. It moves suddenly. Johan blacks out.
August 9, 2010: Taylor Swift and Taylor Lautner (“Valentine’s Day”) beat out Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson (“The Twilight Saga: New Moon”) for the Teen Choice Award for Best Lip Lock.
August, 2010: After trying and failing to add another major free agent, the Nets stage a massive event at Prudential Center introducing their new “Big Three” of Wade, James, and Brook Lopez. Lopez insists on wearing a cape and dislocates his kneecap trying to do the worm on stage.
November, 2010: The new Nets repeatedly set new Prudential Center attendance records, partly because of their star-studded new team, partly because the roads out of Newark all turn directly back into Newark. I’m being serious now. I got lost driving home from Newark Airport in 2008 and returned home this morning.
February 28, 2011: Sundiata Gaines signs a 10-day contract with the Nets. He doesn’t do anything cool.
May, 2011: The Nets, featuring a starting five of Devin Harris, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Kris Humphries, and Dan Gadzuric, finish 58-24 (second in the Eastern Conference) and lose to the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Finals. The Heat finish second-to-last in the Southeast Division and fail to make the playoffs. Meanwhile in the south of France, whole flocks of sheep are disappearing and repeated sightings of a shadowy, 7-foot tall figure lurching around the countryside by night worry the locals.
Summer 2011: Humbled by the Finals loss, LeBron James spends the offseason working on “pulling the chair” with Rick Mahorn. He strives to make this a major part of his game.
December 8, 2011: The Nets, Hornets, and Rockets agree to a three-team deal that, among other things, brings the Nets Chris Paul in exchange for Devin Harris, Brook Lopez, 2011 draft pick JaJuan Johnson, and cap filler/future picks only to have David Stern nix the trade because of “basketball stuff.” Paul ends up going to the Heat.
January 12, 2012: After a poor start to the season, the Nets fire head coach Avery Johnson and promote P.J. Carlesimo in his place. Johnson retreats to his burrow and does not emerge until springtime.
February 2012: While “Linsanity” in Toronto seizes most of the league’s attention, the Nets quietly rally to first place in the East.
March 2012: Paris falls to an army of 150,000 undead sheep led by Johan Petro, who has now grown to over 9 feet tall and cannot feel pain.
May 2012: The Nets finish the season 55-21, second in the Eastern Conference.
June 2012: The Nets lose the NBA Finals to the Oklahoma City Thunder in a thrilling Game 7 defeat. At least they say it was thrilling. Most individuals with televisions are preoccupied with 14-foot-2 Lord Johan Petro’s public address, broadcast worldwide. Lord Johan and his army of 2.5 billion undead sheep have mercilessly devoured every human being in the Eastern Hempishere and are threatening the same fate for the Americas.
July 19, 2012: The happily married Kris Humphries and Kim Kardashian give birth to their first son, Kassius. Kassius has two butts.
August, 2012: With the Barclays Center occupied by sheep forces, James and Wade demand to be traded as a package to either the Lakers or Clippers. The news reaches almost no one because the American media is now sheep-controlled and plays only sheep programming.
Today: President-elect will.i.am promises to “get an all-out war started in here” on the occupying sheep, but almost nobody is left to hear it. The army is now over 3 billion strong and Lord Petro has grown to 29-foot-4. His skin is bulletproof and his eyes are fire cannons.
So yeah, stuff would have been different.