ABA Throwback throws a punch at NJ fans (2nd NETS Article for RU-N The Observer)

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ABA Throwback, throws a punch at NJ FANS

by Julian Encarnacion

Let's play Name that Franchise. This team has won 2 championships in the last three years with the 3-time MVP at the helms.

Here's a hint. This superstar is the current face of the league and arguably one of the greatest to play basketball with career averages of 28.7 points, 12.1 rebounds, 4.8 assists, along with 2.4 steals and 2 blocks a game.

Time's up. The answer is the Nets. It sounds surreal doesn't it? No this isn't something made up or Association Mode in NBA 2k12. Back in the ABA days the Nets with Julius "Dr. J" Erving were one of the best of teams in existence.

All that came to a crashing end on June 17, 1976 when during the NBA-ABA merger the then New York Nets were charged 3.2 million dollars by the NBA as an entry fee and 4.8 million by the Knicks for invading their territorial rights.

This debt of 8 million dollars eventually led to a day of infamy in Nets history. On October 20, 1976 the now New Jersey Nets sold Dr. J to the Philadelphia 76ers for 3 million dollars. Thus creating an urban legend in Nets lore, the Curse of Dr. J.

Fast-forward to the 2011-2012 season, the Nets are in their final season in New Jersey and are celebrating 35 years in the Garden State. The marketing team has produced a commemorative logo for the occasion. The organization is even having "county nights" where season ticketholders from the different NJ counties are honored.

When analyzing the Nets stint in New Jersey, there really isn't much to celebrate. One can make the argument that this franchise is cursed with multiple draft busts and plain bad luck. From 1977 to 2012, the Nets have only made the playoffs 16 times, resulting with only 2 appearances in the Finals, and have an overall record of 1194-1669 (a winning percentage of .417).

Ever since Bruce Ratner purchased the Nets and decided to relocate them to Brooklyn, the franchise has seemed like a team with one foot out the door. The 2008-2009 season signaled the last time the team would wear a uniform with the words "NEW JERSEY" on them. They discontinued those jerseys in favor for the horrendous red ones that simply read "NETS."

Last season as the Nets temporarily moved into the Prudential Center before their permanent relocation to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn the words "New Jersey Basketball" were removed from the floor and now just show up as "Nets Basketball."

As the Nets pay homage to their Jersey roots this season, many fans believed throwback jerseys would be sported during their last year. The possibility of seeing the classic grey uniforms that Jason Kidd famously wore during his tenure, or even the 90's era blues worn by the "Croatian Sensation" Drazen Petrovic enticed Nets fans.

The Nets are wearing throwbacks for five nights this year, but it's not the one many people hoped for. In a strange twist of fate or just rotten luck, 2012 marks the 45th anniversary for the now defunct ABA, so the NBA decided let 10 teams wear jerseys from the ABA days.

The Nets were a perfect choice because of their connection to Dr. J, the ABA's most prominent player of the era, but to no surprise New Jersey comes up short again. The NBA chose the Nets to wear the away version of the jersey, meaning "NEW YORK" will be displayed across the chest of the players. It's an odd decision considering it is probably the last time New Jersey will ever see professional basketball, that they chose the blue aways.

This isn't the first time the Nets have worn old school ABA jerseys. For a few seasons they'd sometimes show up in the home version of the throwbacks. Those had "NETS" on them, but they were also worn during the 2003 Finals against the San Antonio Spurs.

The Nets should have elected to wear the home whites. It could have been a perfect opportunity to pay tribute to the Nets of the Erving years, but more importantly the Kidd years as well. Instead seeing New York Nets will just serve as a reminder that Nets are not here to stay and will be leaving at the end of the season.

So here we are Nets fans, forever living in the shadow of New York, wither it be the New York Knicks, Dr. J's New York Nets, or even the eventual Brooklyn Nets.



Follow me on Twitter: @hulyan

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