35 years came to an end last night in Newark, New Jersey as the only professional basketball team the state has ever known closed out their 2011-2012 home campaign. What has been an interesting three and a half decades for the New Jersey Nets came to a screeching halt as the team acknowledged their past, showed off their sub par present, and looked ahead to their future with a 105-87 loss to Philadelphia.
Growing up as a kid in Jersey I had the
pleasure convenience of watching the team build, rebuild, and build some more in my lifetime while coming ever so close to NBA glory. Back when the team played in the Meadowlands obtaining tickets was too easy, as people simply didn’t care much about a team who was either struck by tragedy, never really got far in the postseason and has forever been in the shadows of the incompetent Knicks. Walking around the place then as if we owned it became routine, gaining access to the locker room area was all too easy; it was actually loving them that was the hardest part.
The best thing to ever happen to the team in the past decade was the genius trade of Stephon “I now have a statue in China” Marbury for Jason Kidd. The team first mentality which had been lost on the Nets of old came in strong fashion with Kidd who led the team to two straight NBA Finals only to come up short on both attempts. It was then when being a Nets fan actually meant something.
When I spent my summer in Russia after the first Finals appearance I refused to wear anything but my conference champions shirt because I was high on pride and it mattered not that people looked at me all confused because this was years before the team got its own Russian revival. (That’s me voting for him above)
Now the team moves across state lines to Brooklyn with much uncertainty as their best player Deron Williams hits free agency, their abysmal record not enough to garner new and possible Knicks fans, and a state-of-the-art arena to welcome them with extra empty seats. Jay-Z and other Nets brass might be happy the move is finally happening but it’s hard to support a team which has turned its back on you and left for potentially greater pastures.
I can’t say just yet whether I will become a Brooklyn Nets fan or stop watching basketball altogether because despite all the heartache and pain this team has brought me throughout the years nothing compares to them forsaking New Jersey when it made countless efforts to keep them where they belong.- Spartak