It wasn’t easy being a Nets fan in Knick country. Despite two Finals appearances by the Nets that coincided with the Eddy Curry/Stephon Marbury/Isaiah Thomas years, the New Jersey Nets never got any respect. I’d actually get jealous going to Knick games—because despite the fact that the team was a joke, the fans were always a hundred times more enthusiastic than Nets fans. The Jason Kidd years had a better showing in the Continental Arena but their best days paled in comparison to the Knicks’ worst at the Garden.
It all could be changing now with the move to Brooklyn. Bill Simmons even raised the question of whether Knicks fans are allowed to convert to Nets fans because of the incompetence of owner James Dolan. And to answer everyone’s question concerning the move, yes—I will continue to be a Brooklyn Nets fan.
But this is now. And that was then. Today, I’ll look back at my fondest memories of being a New Jersey Nets fan.
8. Nets vs. Magic, December 2001 – You’d think this game was memorable because I saw Tracy McGrady in his prime, but it’s really because I went with 24 other people—all of whom were coupled up. I don’t remember who won this game—but I definitely lost.
7. Nets vs. Spurs, NBA Finals, 2003 – You’d think an NBA Finals game would be sold out. But you also forget that this is the New Jersey Nets. Ubër Net fan Walter Ho (who incidentally, had a brief stint as Yi Jianlian’s interpreter), was just checking out to see if there were tickets available on the day of the game. Low and behold, they were available. He snatched them up and grabbed seats in the very last row of the upper deck with my other Net fan friend Pete Eng. The majority of the upper tier was taken by press—much of it international. Tim Duncan destroyed us but what clearly stood out were the pockets of empty seats at a Finals game.
6. Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus, May 2005 – I went to the circus with my sister’s family—two nephews and a niece. All three kids fell asleep and there weren’t any lions or tigers. There were a lot more people than a typical Nets game though.
5. Nets vs. Cavs Playoffs, April 1993 – Probably the most exciting Nets game I attended. The late Dwayne Schintius saved the day—someone who was more know for his mullet than his basketball skills.
4. Nets vs Pistons Playoffs , April 2003 – My roommate was dating a significantly older woman at the time (like we’re talking 18 years people) when Dikembe Mutombo entered the game. We were all in our late 20s and Mutombo was 36, making him the oldest player on the team. The Cougar exclaimed, “He’s so old!”
3. Season Ticket Draft 2007– Every season, Walter would get the cheapest season ticket package. Because of the large amounts of empty seats, we’d sneak down to the lower bowl when the security guards would make their routine walk down the stairs. But this season, one of his ex-girlfriends scored season tickets in the center of the lower bowl through her company and just simply GAVE them to Walt. Flush with our latest score, we immediately set up our draft with Pete. I came out with the first pick and picked the Seattle Supersonics featuring rookie Kevin Durant. Saying that Walt was pissed was an understatement. I probably should have just let him have it. But I didn’t. Looking back, I realize this may have been a dick move considering he got these tickets and gave them to us FOR FREE. But I have no regrets. That being said, P.J. Carlesimo was playing Durant at shooting guard and he just hung around the perimeter missing threes.
2. Nets vs Suns, December 2006 – The Suns beat the Nets 161-157 in a triple overtime thriller where Jason Kidd rolled out a smooth 38-14-14 and Steve Nash had 42 points and dished out 13 dimes. Despite the Net loss, it was the second most exciting game I attended in person. What killed the buzz were the two teenaged girls sitting behind me and few seats over screaming there heads off and actually hitting people with their thundersticks. I gave them a few dirty looks to no avail. They were probably 16—what was I going to say? By the time the game actually ended at around eleven o’clock, they were exhausted and silent. I wish I could tell you I shouted, “PAST YOUR BEDTIME BITCHES?!”
But I didn’t.
1. Nets vs Celtics, Playoffs, May 2002 – I was in this band at the time where we started playing covers, then moved on to originals which the lead guitarist wrote. We were a “power trio” and were actually invited to some Battle of the Bands competition by a local radio station at this bar in Morristown. I was the bassist. The winner got to be on the radio. Pretty exciting stuff right? Well, here’s how the phone call went after I found out the great news on the phone. The lead singer’s roommate Mick was also a bassist and he was much more experienced than I was.
Guitarist: Sooo we’re actually gonna have Mick play instead of you.
Me: (Deflated) Oh.
Guitarist: But we really want you to be there.
Me: (Being the pushover than I am) Yeah, sure.
So I went. And I watched my band play with a more technically and musically superior bassist in my place, praying that the radio station would not pick us (them). This was of course right when the Nets were in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Celtics. So I said to myself, “F__k them”, and went to the other room where the game was going on and watched Jason Kidd even the series at 2-2.
The Nets went on to win the series and eventually lose to the Lakers. But more importantly, the band did not get chosen. So I won this time. (I think).