I don’t know what was more important to people watching the Sixers – Nets NBA game last night. Philadelphia clinching the final playoff spot in the East or the New Jersey Nets playing their last game before moving to Brooklyn. Armon Johnson scoring the final points for the Nets in New Jersey should have meant more, shouldn’t it?
Maybe in a different time, with a different majority owner, with different players. The Nets had some pretty good days not too long ago. They made two NBA finals in 2002 and 2003, losing to the Lakers and Spurs. They reached the playoffs four more times before Kidd packed his things and left to Dallas.
Since then? Four head coaches, as the Nets put out one of the worst seasons in NBA History (2009-2010, 12-70). It seems everything was on hold from the moment it was announced that Prokhorov and Jay Z managed to push the team moving to Brooklyn, hoping that the news of playing in New York instead of across State lines will draw some big names.
Deron Williams was the Nets’ best player this season, and he didn’t look like he wanted to be there half the time. Brook Lopez took a step back, mostly because of injury. All the trade rumors, most of them revolving around Dwight Howard, didn’t come true. Meanwhile Howard seems to be tearing apart the Orlando Magic from within, and who knows how that situation will end.
They did add Gerald Wallace in hopes that it’ll convince a bigger name to stay, and a bigger name to show up. But the rest of the roster? Not very impressive. MarShon Brooks had a good rookie season, Gerald Green was surprisingly good in his NBA comeback, Kris Humphries is a better player than people usually give him credit for.
The attendance numbers probably show better than anything how the Nets never really got it going, even during their best seasons with Kidd and later Vince Carter joining him. They were never ranked higher than 19th in the NBA in average attendance. The last few seasons – 30th, 28th, 30th. Less than 70% of the arena’s capacity, averaging less than 14,000 fans per game. They never went above 85%, back in 2006 and 2007.
Their owner seemed more interested in the Russian elections lately. His whole desire to move the Nets to New York might have more to do with stadium project and the development around it, owning half of the project. Lets hope that his apparent disinterest in the franchise is appearance only.
The future? Who knows. They’ve got cap space, and they’ve got a change of getting a high draft pick after a 22-43 season. A franchise changer? There’s only one Anthony Davis, and maybe he’s a bit overrated. The Nets are still waiting for one great player to make their franchise a home for him and stay longer than just for a little while. Buck Williams is still the team’s all time leading scorer, which probably says something about the team, more than it does about Buck’s scoring abilities.
Another Doctor J? That’s too much to ask for, for any team probably. That’s all about luck. But for having a community to embrace a team, to actually care about the Nets as they try to leave the NBA’s basement? That’s more important than anything else.