by Ryan Meizinger (’13)
On April 30 the New Jersey Nets officially became the Brooklyn Nets. This marks an end to their thirty-five year run in Jersey, as they move two rivers east into the largest market in the world: Brooklyn.
Nowadays if someone is heard talking about the Nets around the school it is usually making fun of them, either for their poor attendance, cheap tickets, or losing record, but this wasn’t always the case.
The Nets were never known to be a power-house team, usually having a mediocre record and not making the playoffs, but as the season started in 2001 that all changed. The New Jersey Nets had made a blockbuster trade for one of (if not the) best point guard in the NBA: Jason Kidd.
“ I remember when my Dad came home and showed me the paper from that day, I was so excited”, said junior Matt Reil.
Reil’s feelings were similar to all the other kids at the time; they didn’t really know who Jason Kidd was but were excited of what was to come.
Kidd’s first year was a bright turnaround for the Nets.They finished the year 52-30 (their best franchise record) and went on to advance to the NBA Finals where they were swept by the Los Angeles Lakers. The next year the Nets continued their success by making it to the NBA Finals again where they lost the best of seven series to the San Antonio Spurs 4-3. Those were the glory years for the Nets, which most fans can boldly recall. The Nets continued to make the playoffs for the next five years straight, however the team never had that same vibe it had in the years of the finals.
Over the years the team changed. Players would come and go and soon the core lineup that was known as the finals team was gone.
It was one of the more memorable moments in New Jersey Nets history when it was announced that the team had agreed to trade All-Star point guard and fan favorite Jason Kidd to the Dallas Mavericks, in exchange for a rising young star Devin Harris.
“I think it kind of shocked us all”, said Junior Devan Naik, “He was who revived the franchise and brought us to the finals, it was sad to see him go”.
The franchise had began to drop in league rankings, and would soon be recognized as one of the bottom teams in the league. Though it was rough to see this happen to the team it wasn’t all bad in Jersey. With the depreciation in value of play from the Nets, ticket prices dropped which enabled students to go to the games more frequently.
Junior Dan Muscato said, “I actually remember going to the games as field trips in Monmouth Junction, and Crossroads. It was fun because you could go with all your friends instead of just your family.”
However, the field trips up the Nets games weren’t made into a tradition. After a few years of annually going up to the Meadowlands the district rid itself of field trips which discontinued the student-favorite trip.
Many students lost interest in the team after that. It was a combination of the discontinuation of the field trip, and overall how boring the Nets were. Where the Nets used to be the talk of the school they were now the laughing stock of the school. Where a Nets jersey used to be viewed as prestigious among the halls it was now viewed as a joke. There were, however a few students that never gave up on the team.
Junior Oliver Kaczor stated, “Growing up with the Nets there was no way I was going to ditch them like others did, I got to stick with my team, even through the bad”.
Loyalty such as Kaczor’s soon payed off. Approaching the trade deadline of the 2011 season, amidst the “Melo Drama” where the Nets seemed to swing and miss on the signing of the superstar Carmelo Anthony, the front office went out and grabbed their own superstar, Deron Williams.
“I remember leaving school early for a dentist appointment, I went to check Twitter in the car and I saw the headline news that Jazz superstar Deron Williams was traded to the New Jerey Nets”, said Junior Nick Veglia.
Immediate connections were drawn to the dawn of the Jason Kidd era. Rightfully so this was a similar situation and Williams had the potential to revive the franchise.
The next season seemed to be overlooked by the finalization of the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. This was thanks to previous Nets CEO Bruce Ratner who had the dream of moving the team to Brooklyn ever since he bought the team in 2003. This dream finally became a reality in 2012.
Fast forward to April 30 and the New Jersey Nets were no longer. After 35 years of ups and downs, the franchise had officially become the Brooklyn Nets. This excited students. It was the dawn of a new day, all the troubles of New Jersey could be forgotten, and the team could have a “fresh” start to regain their name as a dominant force in the league.
As school came to a close on Monday the 30th dozens of students raced to their cars and made their way up to Modell’s Sporting Goods of North Brunswick where they would get their first shot at buying the New Nets apparel.
“The black and white is very simple and retro” said Senior Nicky Scudiero.
All traces of New Jersey are now gone, and students can now focus on the future. It will be a long few months until the opener for the Nets in Brooklyn, but students aren’t wasting any time making arrangements. Many students have already planned their transportation to the Barclays Center, and are awaiting to buy tickets for the sure to be memorable first major sports team in Brooklyn since the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Students will always remember the excitement of New Jersey, and will surely bring all their fond memories to Brooklyn with them.
All stats from NBA.Com