Nets hold players-only meeting after loss, Irving argues with media

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Is it already time to press the panic button on Brooklyn?

After falling to 1-5 with a 125-116 home loss to the Indiana Pacers on Saturday, Ben Simmons revealed the Nets held a players-only meeting.

That's right, a players-only meeting six games into the season.

"We had a conversation that obviously I'm not gonna talk about. But it was honest," Simmons told reporters. "That's what winning teams do -- hold each other accountable, be able to be open and talk to your teammates, and respect that."

Kevin Durant, meanwhile, downplayed the meeting.

"We're in constant communication all the time," Durant said. "If it's a scheduled meeting or not, I think we all talk about what we need to do as a team every day. So regardless if it's after a loss or it's looked at as a 'meeting,' we're always in constant dialogue about what we need to do as a group. So I wouldn't say it was anything special."

As you may remember, the Boston Celtics held a players-only meeting seven games into last season following a 2-5 start. The Celtics eventually turned their season around and reached the NBA Finals.

But at the moment, it's hard to believe the Nets are capable of pulling off a similar turnaround.ย They boast the NBA's worst rebounding percentage (45.2%), second-worst defensive rating (121.6) and third-worst net rating (minus-8.6).

In their defeat to the rebuilding Pacers, the Nets allowed 23 3-pointers, 17 offensive rebounds and 19 fast-break points. Head coach Steve Nash called his team's performance in the fourth straight loss a "disaster."

"It was a disaster," Nash said. "How else do you say it? I didn't see the will. Didn't see the desire or the connectivity necessary to get stops and get rebounds."

"We have to look deep inside ourselves and what we want to do. What we want to accomplish," Nash said when asked where the Nets go from here. "Do we want to give up on this because it's been difficult early? Or do we want to stay the course and start to build something?

"We've had a lot of really good days here early in the season and we've lost a couple games that shook our mentality hard. We're not seeing the same competitive spirit, same purpose and if we don't clean that up it's not gonna get better. That's the only way to get out of difficult positions is to have character and competitive spirit."

Yikes.

Things didn't get much better when Kyrie Irving hit the podium. Irving has been active on social media in recent days, promoting an antisemitic film before Nets owner Joe Tsai and the team condemned the posts. When Irving took the mic on Saturday night, he defended his actions.

"I'm not here to argue over a person or a culture or a religion and what they believe," Irving said, via ESPN's Nick Friedell. "Nah, this is what's here. It's on a public platform. Did I do anything illegal? Did I hurt anybody? Did I harm anybody? Am I going out and saying that I hate one specific group of people? So out of all of the judgment that people got for me posting, without talking to me, and then I respect what Joe [Tsai] said, but there has a lot to do with not ego or pride of how proud I am to be [of] African heritage, but also to be living as a free Black man here in America, knowing the historical complexities for me to get here.

"So I'm not going to stand down on anything that I believe in. I'm only going to get stronger because I'm not alone. I have a whole army around me."

Later, Irving had a back-and-forth exchange with a reporter after being asked about his recent sharing of an old video of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones on social media.

Players-only meeting. Lack of desire and competitive spirit. Not exactly the kinds of things you want to hear about a team with championship aspirations less than two weeks into the season.

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