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A year ago, they were not only the toast of the NBA but a model for the way things get built in professional sports now, the way foundations and cornerstones are laid, the way blueprints become blessings.

Starting with an Instagram message posted by Kevin Durant late in the afternoon of June 30 and stretching for most of a celebratory July, life had never been better for the Nets, not in their NBA incarnation, anyway, not since Julius Erving and his friends had tried to wrest the basketball city away while loitering in the burbs and brandishing a red, white and blue ball.

Durant and Kyrie Irving were in the house, in the fold, and suddenly the Nets were in the unfamiliar position of feeding the new NBA zeitgeist.

“We knew,” Sean Marks said in Las Vegas a few weeks later, “what we were getting into.”

Maybe they did. Still: Nobody could truly forecast just how bizarre the next 12 months would be for the Nets. One prominent fly in the ointment was apparent right away: Durant wouldn’t be available at all in 2019-20 thanks to his blown Achilles. While Irving came with a clean bill of health, when he was limited to 20 games (during which the Nets went 8-12) thanks to a bum shoulder that wasn’t exactly a stunning development, either, given his history.

What would have been impossible to envision last July, though, were all the things, epic and subtle and everything in between, that’s littered the Nets’ landscape at the dawn of another July, in no particular order:

  • A global pandemic which has turned everyone’s world upside down.
Kyrie Irving (l) and Kevin DurantAP
  • The firing of coach Kenny Atkinson on March 7 after leading the Nets from the dregs to the playoffs last year and the brink of another berth this time, the details of which are a bit fuzzy but was clearly precipitated by the fact that Atkinson on one end and Durant, Irving and DeAndre Jordan on the other had stopped believing they could work together.
  • Injuries that cost Caris LeVert (having another fine season) 25 games and rookie Nic Claxton all but 15 games.
  • Forward Rodions Kurucs was arrested on domestic violence charges.
  • Wilson Chandler, a key offseason addition, missed the first 25 games thanks to a PED suspension, shot barely 40 percent in the 35 games in which he did play, then opted out of the Nets’ trip to the Orlando restart bubble — a stay that looks, by the day, to probably be the shortest of the 22 teams who will report there next week.
  • And, not least, the Nets have been bludgeoned worse than anyone by the coronavirus. Four players — Durant the only one whose name we know — tested positive early in the lockdown. This week, both Jordan and Spencer Dinwiddie — easily the Nets’ most reliable player this year at 20.6 points and 6.8 assists — revealed they, too, have COVID-19. Jordan is definitely out of Orlando; Dinwiddie wants to play but said he has actually shown symptoms (fever, chest tightness) and will almost certainly be forced out.

Other than that …

The Nets are one of what will almost certainly be a wealth of cautionary tales as sports tries to reintegrate into the world. There are others. The Phillies have so far been the hardest hit of the baseball teams by the virus, and the Nationals have already lost two players they expected to be part of the season — Ryan Zimmerman and Joe Ross — who decided to opt out instead.

The NHL had 15 of the first 250 players tested come back positive and we are still trying to determine at what percentage these things become problematic. Clemson has had 37 football players test positive and there is a cynical (if apocryphal, for now) take that has gotten a foothold in the sport that football factories like that wouldn’t mind seeing their players spike now, possibly develop herd immunity and be fully loaded for the season (if there’s a season).

The Nets were going to be a longshot to do anything in the bubble anyway since it was announced that both Irving and Durant would stay idle. The other dominoes that have fallen have merely ensured their stay inside will be as quick as possible. Most of their eggs were already carefully laid in baskets belonging to 2021, 2022 and 2023, anyway.

By then, depending on how this all shakes out, it may almost be funny how much quicksand they encountered these first 12 months, how many banana peels entangled their feet. If you are a Nets fan, you look forward to that laughter.

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Kenia Monges Murder: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Find a Grave Kenia Monge/Travis Forbes

Kenia Monge was only 19 years old when she was abducted and murdered by Travis Forbes, who also left another woman, Lydia Tillman, for dead and in a coma for five months.

Travis Forbes, who is serving a life sentence for Monge’s murder, escaped the death penalty by pleading guilty and leading investigators to Monge’s body. She was buried in a shallow grave about 40 miles from Denver and buried five months after her death following a painstaking search by investigators and family members.

Monge’s story is airing on Dateline Friday, July 3, on NBC at 9 p.m. EST.

Here’s what you need to know:

1. Travis Forbes Was Identified as a Suspect in her Disappearance When Her Stepdad Found a Text on Her Phone

Kenia Monge was out drinking with friends on April 1, 2011, when she wandered away from the group. She was intoxicated, and left behind her phone, purse, and keys. Her family and had not heard from her when her friends brought her belongings to her stepfather, Tony Lee. On her phone, he found a text message from a man named Travis, called him, and set up a meeting, according to The Denver Post.

Forbes, Lee and a Denver Police officer met at a gas station the next day. Forbes claimed he gave Monge a ride, and she was upset. He taught her breathing exercises, he told them, and watched her leave with another man from a closed gas station.

On April 5, Denver police Detective Nash Gurule, with the Missing and Exploited Persons Unit, was assigned to the case. She recovered suspicious surveillance footage, and brought Forbes in for more questioning. He repeated the same story again.

“I didn’t believe him,” Gurule told The Post. “Why would you take a girl to a closed Conoco? From across the river, you can see the Conoco is closed.”

2. Surveillance Footage at Forbes’ Bakery Showed Him With a Cooler & Bleach

Travis Forbes worked at a bakery in Denver, Colorado, where he made organic granola bars. Investigators searching for Kenia Monge recovered surveillance footage from the bakery. He shut the cameras off, but not before he was recorded acting suspiciously.

The surveillance footage showed Forbes The video roll a large, white cooler into the bakery’s freezer, then carry a roll of carpet from his van. He later walked out to the van carrying what appeared to be a bottle of bleach, and then turned off the cameras, according to The Denver Post.

Denver homicide Detective Louis Estrada was brought in to assist in the case of Monge’s disappearance, if it would turn out to be a homicide. She told The Post she immediately recognized the case as a homicide.

“Every time he talks, he has something to cover up,” Estrada said of Forbes. “He knew what he was doing. He had a story and an excuse for everything.”

3. An Autopsy Could Not Determine Kenia Monge’s Cause of Death Due to Decomposition

For #tbt, check out Episode 18 about 19-Year-old Kenia Monge. I spoke with Kenia’s parents about what they did to assist investigators with the case and what the punishment was for the man who senselessly killed her.

— Court Junkie (@CourtJunkiePod) January 11, 2018

Kenia Monge’s cause of death was undetermined because her body was too badly decomposed to determine how she died. Monge’s remains were found in a shallow grave five months after she died, where she was dumped after Forbes raped and murdered her, according to The Denver Post. Monge wandered off from a group of friends April 1, 2011 and met up with Forbes. A text message led police to question him.

Monge’s stepdad, Tony Lee, believes Forbes attacked Monge after she passed out due to severe intoxication. Forbes told investigators he strangled Monge, and the autopsy could not rule out strangulation or asphyxiation, The Post reported.

“While the cause of death remains undetermined, the manner is ruled a homicide,” the autopsy report said.

It further indicated Monge’s feet were skeletonized and parts of her body were moderately or severely decomposed.

Travis Forbes Avoided the Death Sentence By Pleading Guilty & Was Sentenced to Life in Prison

Travis Forbes was sentenced to life in prison in the abduction and murder of Kenia Monge. She disappeared April 1, 2011 after a night out with friends and encountered Forbes while highly intoxicated. She did not have her purse, keys or cell phone. Monge was convicted of raping and murdering Monge and burying her body in a shallow grave. He avoided the death penalty by pleading guilty, and was sentenced to life in prison, according to 9 News.

On September 7, 2011, Forbes took investigators to the exact spot where he buried Monge. She was found in a shallow grave in Weld County, buried under a cottonwood tree near Keenesburg, about 40 miles from Denver.

He was also sentenced to 48 years in prison in the attempted murder of Lydia Tillman. She was in a coma for five months after being sexually assaulted, strangled and doused in bleach, according to ABC News.

“I’m tough,” Tillman told ABC News.

5. Kenia Monge Was Buried in Denver After a 5-Month Search for Her Remains

After five months of searching, the body of Kenia Monge was finally recovered. Her family held a funeral service on September 16, 2011, more than five months after she disappeared following a night out with friends on April 1, 2011. Her service was held at Pastor of Glory to Glory Christian Center in Aurora, Colorado, and she was buried at Hampden Garden Cemetery in Denver, Colorado, according to Find a Grave.

“Kenia Monge went missing after a night out with friends on April 1, 2011. She was abducted and murdered and her remains were found after five months of intense searching. She is survived by her mother, step-father, siblings and many family and friends,” her memorial on Find a Grave says. “A funeral service was held for Kenia on Friday, September 16, 2011 at Pastor of Glory to Glory Christian Center, 1620 S. Abilene St. Aurora. Burial was followed at Hampden Garden Cemetery, 8600 E. Hampden Ave. Denver.”

Her grave is inscribed in both English and Spanish.

“I will love you always and forever. Love you, Dad,” it says. “Loving daughter, sister, granddaughter, niece, cousin, aunt.”

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