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Bank Shots: See ya later, Nets

25 April 2012 By Andrew Constant, Sports Editor No Comments

Monday night at Prudential Center in Newark, the Nets played their final game in New Jersey after 35 uneventful years in the Garden State.

In the fall, they’ll move into their swanky new arena, renamed and refurbished, across the Hudson River in Brooklyn.

As soon as their game against the 76ers ended on Monday, the team’s website began displaying an outline of their new logo with the hashtag “#hellobrooklyn” below it.

The season isn’t even over yet, but the Nets have one foot out the door toward NYC.

For the first and probably only time ever, I’ll echo Gov. Chris Christie’s words and tell the Nets “good riddance.”

New Jersey’s governor isn’t well liked in my household, but I know a lot of residents do like him. I won’t get into his politics, but I do support his decision to not have attended the Nets’ final game in the state earlier this week.

The manner in which the Nets handled the last few years in the Garden State is not acceptable, and I’m glad they won’t be a tenant in my state any longer.

The Nets played 35 seasons in New Jersey, moving from Long Island two years after the ABA merged with the NBA.

When they were one of the four teams that joined the NBA – along with the Spurs, Nuggets, Pacers, and sadly not the Flint Tropics – the Nets were already in extreme financial debt.

They had to pay a fee of $4.8 million for “invading” the Knicks fan base and area of the country, and $3.2 million just to enter the NBA. Ownership was forced to trade their only marketable player, the legendary Julius Erving, to the Philadelphia 76ers, and in their first few seasons in New Jersey, they played on the campus of Rutgers University.

In the years following their arrival in the Garden State, the Nets had a very hard time drawing solid crowds and attracting big-name players.

Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov purchased the team in 2009, and people thought that the Nets would become big spenders, splurging for top-level free agents and established veterans.

The next year, for the second time in their history, they invaded another team’s privacy, moving into Prudential Center, the home of the NHL’s New Jersey Devils, in downtown Newark.

The two teams had shared the arena in the Meadowlands until the Devils moved in 2007, and when the hockey team had the new building erected, they made it clear that the Nets weren’t welcome as tenants.

Yet two or three years later, the Devils and Nets were sharing the same address again.

Even with their new mailing address, the Nets were unable to sign free agents LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Amar’e Stoudemire.

Before long, they panicked and traded the No. 3 pick in that year’s draft, Derrick Favors and Devin Harris, a key piece from the Jason Kidd trade, to Utah for Deron Williams.

Since then, they’ve been trying to pair another big name with Williams for their move to Brooklyn in the fall, and up until now, they’ve been unsuccessful.

As a New Jersey native, I wish that they had better memories in the state over the last 35 years. But I won’t miss the Nets when they officially change their identities and leave for Brooklyn.

Like Gov. Christie said, “good riddance.” Enjoy living in the Knicks’ shadow in mediocrity.

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