Last night marked the final home game of the New Jersey Nets, and although the franchise won’t officially become the Brooklyn Nets until the beginning of the 2012-2013 NBA season (when they move from the Prudential Center to the Barclay Center), it’s obvious those involved with the team couldn’t leave Jersey fast enough, as evident by the graphic on their home page right now (the season isn’t over yet… they’re technically still the New Jersey Nets).
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie won’t be missing the franchise, telling the Associated Press yesterday: “My message to the Nets is ‘goodbye’, they want to leave here and go to Brooklyn? Good riddance.”
The Nets finished its 35 years in New Jersey with a loss, ironically and perhaps symbolically, to the Philadelphia 76ers, the team that took Dr J Julius Erving from them at the start of their Jersey stint.
A collection of former Nets, from Derrick Coleman to Kenny Anderson to Darryl Dawkins, showed up in person–along with video packages from other former Nets Jason Kidd, Vince Carter, Kenyon Martin, and others–for a halftime ceremony celebrating the past.
Kidd’s appearance on the jumble tron garnered the loudest cheer of the night, and rightfully so, as he was the leader behind two Nets team that made the NBA Finals.
Despite having more success than the Knicks the past decade–the Nets made the finals in 2002 and 2003, the Knicks haven’t even won a playoff game since 2001–The Nets never were able to shred its image as the inferior franchise in the tri-state area.
Even with a Russian billionaire and Jay-Z as owners (the latter a very, very minor one), they have been unable to attract marquee free agents the past few years, most notably striking out in the LeBron James bidding two summers ago and being screwed over by Dwight Howard this year.
Deron Williams, whom the Nets traded a bunch of assets (young players, draft picks) to acquire, may leave this offseason for Dallas.
It’s been a sad 35 years in Jersey (New York Times’ Harvey Araton, who’s covered the Nets for over two decades dating back to his days with the New York Daily News, has a wonderful piece recapping the history of the Nets here), and unless the Nets win the NBA lottery and get the first pick in this year’s draft, they will likely be just as bad in Brooklyn next year as they have been in Jersey these past few years.
So even then, there will be no sleep in Brooklyn.