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It wouldn’t be a Nets season without Herb Turetzky ... and that’s no exaggeration

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Boston Celtics v New Jersey Nets Photo by Ray Amati/NBAE via Getty Images

When the Nets debuted this season, things were different. On the bright side, there was Kevin Durant, one the game’s all-time greats, in a Nets uniform. Less so, was the absence of fans in the cavernous Barclays Center. The pandemic had robbed fans of their rightful place.

But down in front, at the scorer’s table was the very definition of stability. Herb Turetzky, wearing a mask, was in his familiar place at center court, masked and ready. He had beaten COVID-19 that had laid him up for six weeks in the spring.

“It’s not a Nets season without Herb Turetzky,” Ian Eagle told Sports Illustrated. “It’s that simple.”

“He’s a treasure,” Julius Erving said. “He’s part of the original franchise. Who else has that?”

NBA official Bob Delaney calls him, “the Michael Jordan of scorekeepers.”

Indeed. Turetzky is now scoring his 54th straight season for the Nets who moved from New Jersey to Long Island and back again before settling in Brooklyn, where it should be noted, Turetzky was born 75 years ago. That’s more than 2,200 games, a record the Guinness Book of Records confirms.

How have things changed in the nine months he wasn’t in the building. SI’s Ben Pickman writes...

For starters, he had a blue cloth mask draped over his mouth and tucked under his glasses. Olivier Sedra, Brooklyn’s public announcer who normally sits shoulder-to-shoulder with Turetzky, was more than six feet to the scorer’s right. A group of statisticians who in most years are stationed within earshot behind him had been moved to the upper bowl, forcing Turetzky to wear a black headset over his thinning white hair to ease their communication. There were no fans or vendors in the seats behind Turetzky, who grew up just eight subway stops from Barclays in the Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn. “Honestly, it’s kinda lonely,” he says. “It was very, very strange.”

Wheelchair bound for the most part, Turetzky is assisted by his wife, Jane, and everyone else on the Nets staff. He is, after all, an institution at Barclays Center just as he was at the myriad of venues from East Rutherford to Commack.

He had gone to his first game as a fan wanting to watch two fellow Brooklynites, Tony Jackson and Connie Hawkins battle, but was pressed into service as scorekeeper.

“I’ve never left that seat since,” he says. “I’m still here and I’m still going.”

Like so many fans, Turetzky is excited about what the “Big Three” can do for his beloved franchise.

“We’re gonna have a chance if things go well for those guys and they all stay healthy,” Turetzky says. “Being at the top is special. But being at the top in Brooklyn would be so much more special.”