The New Jersey Nets have played their last game in the Garden State, and there was a bit of a sendoff.
Sometimes I wonder why people love big, gauzy ceremonies and the like. But I realize one good reason for them is that if the faces of the franchise can show up, grin together, say nice things ... that means something. It means, for instance, that the whole thing wasn't a waste of time. It makes you feel whole.
But the Nets in New Jersey ... something about it just never worked. There will be no whole feeling, and that's reflected in the reality of the Nets' send-off. There is little but "I" in this team. Consider some of the commentary out of the event, especially from Kenny Anderson as quoted by Jake Appelman in the The New York Times.
The presence of the 2002 trophy did not sit very well with Kenny Anderson, a Net from 1991 to ‘96. Anderson played for the Boston Celtics team that lost to the Nets in the 2002 Eastern Conference finals. “They rubbed it in my face,” he said, sounding somewhat peeved. Anderson alternately praised and lamented his time with the Nets, saying they had settled for mediocrity. “They didn’t want to bring in a big-time coach,” he said.
He said of his time leading the team with Coleman: “We joke around, me and Derrick, we used to practice at an APA trucking facility. I had to share a locker next to a trucking guy. You know what I mean? It was something you got used to.”
“We had some good teams, but we could never climb the Knicks because of the tradition,” Anderson said. “For some reason, New Jersey, I guess, is a basketball state somewhat,” he said. “But New York, New York is basketball.”
I live in New Jersey and I love New Jersey. But I can't shake the feeling that this is like the end of a bad marriage. Maybe some other team would be happy here. But this team? It's probably right they move on and try somewhere else. My best guess is the next stop will make people a lot happier.