Right now, the Nets are playing their last game in New Jersey. It ends a 35-year Garden State run that saw some success (most notably back-to-back NBA Finals appearances in 2002 and 2003), but ultimately saw more bad times than good – the team’s overall NBA record, including one season as the New York Nets before moving across the Hudson, stands at 1208-1694. And so the move from New Jersey to New York (when the former had plenty of experience being treated as a second fiddle to the latter already), combined with that mediocre record, gave New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie a chance to address the occasion of the Nets’ final game in his state in typically blunt terms:
Textbook Chris Christie – and on this occasion, it works. Sure, the Nets have plenty of fans who’d have rather seen the team stick around. But the fact is, for much of the Nets’ New Jersey history, they not only weren’t very good – they weren’t very interesting, either. For example, for a significant stretch, the most accomplished overall player in franchise history was probably Buck Williams (I’d give Jason Kidd the nod now, for the record). Williams was an excellent player – he essentially averaged 12 rebounds a night seven years in a row – but he doesn’t exactly rate among the giants of the sport.
Similarly, much of the success the Nets have had as a franchise has been similarly smaller-scale. They’ve made the playoffs 16 times. 10 of those appearances resulted in first-round exits. Three of those playoff appearances were by teams with losing records. There was a 41-41 team, a couple 42-40 squads, and John Calipari’s 43-39 ’97-’98 group mixed in, too. More often than not, when the Nets have made the playoffs, it’s been because they were merely good enough, rather than actually good.
This isn’t sour grapes from a jilted lover – I’m from New Jersey and have never lived anywhere else, but I was never a Nets fan. And in fairness, it hasn’t all been dull for the franchise – there were those Finals appearances, there was the meteoric rise (and, alas, the tragic end) of Drazen Petrovic, and some of the flameouts (like Derrick Coleman and that 12-70 season two years ago) have been captivating in their own way. But for much of their time in New Jersey, the Nets were a boring team in a boring building. Is there any more fitting final message to a legacy of mediocrity than an unfeeling goodbye?
[h/t Steve Politi]