NY Jets QB Aaron Rodgers trains with Kevin Durant in California

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By: Stefan Stelling

A former New York sports star meets with a current New York sports star

Aaron Rodgers has been a busy man since joining the New York Jets in late April.

After the blockbuster trade, Rodgers spent the last two months touring New York City and meeting his new teammates. Following the end of OTAs last week, Rodgers is now back on the west coast.

While training at the Proactive Sports Performance facility in California, the three-time MVP met with another multi-time MVP in Kevin Durant. Now with the Phoenix Suns, Durant is familiar with New York after playing for the Brooklyn Nets from 2019 to 2023.

Similar to the Jets, the Nets made several big moves to launch themselves into contention. In 2019, the Nets signed Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in free agency. Brooklyn then traded for James Harden the following season.

Unfortunately, each of them struggled with injuries, and they only played 16 games together before they were all traded away.

The Nets peaked when Durant led them to the Eastern Conference Semifinals in 2021, where they lost to the eventual champion Milwaukee Bucks in seven games. I still remember thinking the Nets won the series when Durant made a long jump shot at the end of the fourth quarter in Game 7 – until the replay showed Durant’s toe was on the three-point line.

Considering the similarities between Rodgers and Durant’s careers, as well as the 2021 Brooklyn Nets and the 2023 New York Jets, there is one big question Jets fans are asking.

Will the Jets get different results?

There are several similarities between the careers of Rodgers and Durant. Both are considered generational talents and among the best offensive players to ever play their respective sports.

While both players are indisputably dominant during the regular season, both are missing a key part of their resumes to be considered among the best: playoff success.

In the playoffs, Rodgers has a 12-10 record. Durant has a 12-9 series record when excluding his time with the Warriors (11-2). Both players’ individual stats have remained excellent in the playoffs, but it hasn’t translated to wins. Durant failed to build his legacy after going to the Nets. Will Aaron Rodgers have a similarly disappointing stint in New York?

There are also several similarities between the 2019-22 Nets and the 2023 Jets team. Both teams hoped to vault themselves into the title conversation by adding an established superstar (or multiple superstars, in Brooklyn’s case). The Nets gave up a massive haul to acquire Harden while signing Durant and Irving to large contracts. Buoyed by three stars, the Nets hoped to contend for the next several years.

Unfortunately, they only made it past the first round of playoffs once and never made the conference finals.

Thankfully for the Jets, there are several differences between how they and the Nets formed their teams. The Nets gave up a significant amount of depth and future picks to acquire their stars and could not overcome the injuries they faced.

Meanwhile, the Jets still have a strong roster in place around Rodgers, as they did not have to give up any key players to acquire him. They only had to give up a second-round pick in 2023 and a likely first-round pick in 2024, neither of which will significantly impact this season. They also retained all of their top contributors from the previous season while reinforcing the offense around Rodgers.

The Jets are not the same team the Nets were during Durant’s tenure. Their overall roster is much stronger and won’t solely rely on the new additions. Still, this would be a much rosier comparison if Durant’s toe wasn’t on the line.

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