Of course it hurt a little when the Nets announced they would be moving the team to Brooklyn, at least for those of us that live in New Jersey. But you know what hurts more? Losing all the time. This is by far the greatest thing to happen to this franchise since our back-to-back NBA Finals appearances. Of course we are yet to put a winning team on the court, but the future is finally starting to look bright.
Since all the Brooklyn hype began, management has focused on a few key words: superstar, global, identity, and championship. With the exception of championships, which none of us expect (yet), management seems to be executing according to plan. Let's look at where they currently stand.
If the Nets stayed in New Jersey at the Prudential Center, there would be virtually no chance of retaining Deron Williams. I believe he will resign with the Nets this summer and be the face of the franchise. They probably wouldn’t have even traded for him in the first place, content to continue the rebuilding process. Although the Gerald Wallace trade has drawn a lot of criticism, I think it was a smart move (provided both he and Deron stay). You don’t know what type of player you’ll get in the middle of the lottery. Or even with a Top 3 pick for that matter. Although not a "superstar," in Wallace you get a tough, talented, and smart player with leadership qualities and a contagious work ethic. Sure, we got burned with Dwight Howard, but we’re used to that happening anyway and the Dwightmare isn’t over yet. Have you ever had a bad dream that turns into something awesome at the end? Me neither, but there’s a first time for everything. Players (actual good players!) WANT to play in Brooklyn and although I would have preferred them wanting to play in New Jersey, I’m more interested in seeing this team start winning again. I love Brook Lopez and appreciate everything he says and does for this franchise, but I also believe management would flip him and others for Howard in a heartbeat.
THE GLOBAL TEAM
When Nets ownership started talking about being global, I didn’t see the vision. Sure, our roster included some international flavor with Sasha Vujacic, Dan Gadzuric, and Johan Petro. Jordan Farmar even has some global appeal being one of the few Jewish players in the NBA. And they took the team on a field trip to China! Considering we had Nenad Krstic, Bostjan Nachbar, and Zoran Planinic just a few years earlier, were we really getting more global? The problem was that none of these international players were very good for us. If the team is able to sign Andrei Kirilenko, and Bojan Bogdonovic turns into a solid wing player, we will have more international appeal. And their names are fun to say (Lopez sounds international, does that count?) D-Will’s outstanding play in Turkey during the lockout definitely didn’t hurt. Despite TV hits such as Jersey Shore, Real Housewives of New Jersey, and Jerseylicious, I tend to think that Brooklyn as a market has more global appeal.
THE NEW IDENTITY
It would certainly seem as if the Nets new identity has earned the stamp of approval. More importantly, they kept the Nets name and some of their old identity. What better way to merge the old with the new than bring back Jason Kidd, one of the most beloved Nets players of all time. You want to bring back K-Mart too? Sure, why not?! Although the die-hard fans would continue supporting the team no matter what (12-70, Melodrama, Dwightmare, etc.) I can imagine that some of the more casual fans would have stopped following them if they moved AND dropped the Nets name. You can’t blame them for leaving the Brendan Byrne Arena/Continental Airlines Arena/IZOD Center (Brendan Airlines Center!), and while the Prudential Center was an upgrade, it was never a home to call our own. The Barclays Center will truly be the “baller’s paradise” we’ve all been waiting for.
Alright, this next part may be a little delusional. This isn't necessary what I think should happen or will happen, but more of what I believe management would like to see happen before opening Barclays. After the Nets trade Lopez, Morrow, Petro and our #2 or #3 overall pick in this year’s draft for Dwight Howard, our roster for opening night will be a blend of youth and experience, international and domestic, old Nets and new Nets:
Deron William / Jason Kidd / Jordan Farmar
MarShon Brooks / Bojan Bogdonovic
Gerald Wallace / Gerald Green
Andrei Kirilenko / Kenyon Martin / Draft Pick
Dwight Howard / Jordan Williams
Wow, that’s really fun to look at. Not very probable, but possibly possible. Teams would struggle to score 70 points against that defense. Our team sells out Barclays every night and wins a championship in year one.
Aside from the Nets not being in them, which hopefully changes next year, I’d have to say the Playoffs are going very well for us. The Mavs got swept in the first round (You don’t wanna go there Deron!) The Magic will once again get knocked out in the first round (You don’t wanna stay there Dwight!) And the Knicks are getting demolished by the Heat. That last one doesn’t necessarily help us at all, but it sure as hell feels good.
I’ve been a Nets fan for about 15 years now and things are finally starting to look up for us again. Think positive and believe in the vision. Thanks for reading and cheers to you fellow Nets fans!