The signs are subtle.
An eagle-eyed fan noticed that the Nets new warm-up jackets say "established 2012," commemorating when the team arrived in Brooklyn. Last year, they said “established 1967,” the year the New Jersey Americans, the Nets predecessor, were stood up in Teaneck.
In the rafters above Barclays Center, the Nets championship banners are now black-and-white, Brooklyn's colors, not the red-white-and-blue of the teams when they won the honored titles.
What we're saying is that the Nets’ New Jersey heritage is slowly being erased.
And it's not just cosmetic. For the first time, no New Jersey newspaper covers the Nets. The Star-Ledger, aka nj.com, dropped coverage when the Nets moved from Newark to Brooklyn. The Record, which had a beat reporter travel with the Nets last season, isn't covering them anymore. (The Daily News covers the Nets home games, but not road games. Only the Post and Newsday have full-time beat reporters to the team. All the papers mentioned cover the Knicks full-time.)
More importantly for New Jersey fans, many won't have access, again, to TV coverage of Nets games this season. YES and Comcast still haven't resolved their dispute, meaning 900,000 households won't have game day coverage. The overwhelming majority of those households are in New Jersey. There are others without coverage in Pennsylvania and Connecticut, none in New York. it’s unlikely anything will get done until Yankee spring training next March.
Also, the Nets are for the first time practicing from Day One in Brooklyn, departing their East Rutherford, N.J. training center last February. As a result, 12 of the 15 roster players live in Brooklyn. Only one Net still lives in New Jersey.
There's no disputing that New Jersey fans didn't travel in large numbers from New Jersey to Brooklyn. The Nets were disappointed with the lack of support and the New Jersey fans were disappointed with the lack of appreciation for their loyalty. Whatever.
In the end does it matter? Probably not. The Nets are a New York team, a Brooklyn team ... and are increasingly turning their attention to Long Island, with its improving transit connections to Barclays Center. The Long Island Nets aren’t just a D-League team. They are also a marketing vehicle for the parent club. Next year, the L.I. Nets will move to Nassau Coliseum and play 24 games there. The Nets will play preseason games there as well. It doesn’t hurt that the new coach is from Northport, either.
Does it matter that much? Probably not. New Jersey will always be New York’s little brother (or worse). And there are still New Jersey fans who who will buy season tickets, make the trek by NJ Transit and the subways, find workarounds to watch games ... including this writer. But looking up in the rafters and seeing black-and-white banners. Is that really necessary?