Mired in their 5th straight losing campaign, the work for the New Jersey Nets franchise has just begun…and none of it with regards to rebuilding/retaining a roster rich with free agent “talent.” The Nets are moving across the bridge to Brooklyn next year, last night playing in their final game in the Garden State.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie spoke of the move like a true fan scorned:
I don’t know what motivations truly fueled Christie’s response, and it’s not like this move came out of the blue – it was imminent from the moment the team was sold in 2004 – but man was it refreshing.
The Nets are essentially moving a bridge away, not an insurmountable travel obstacle for the die-hard types. But the symbolism of that bridge is Shakespearean is scope.
The move to Brooklyn is an identity lost for the 35-year foundation of that franchise, and fans are wildly possessive types. Sports is an “I-use-you, you-use-me” mutual agreement for the business side, but for the fans, we can’t help but catch feelings. It’s a violation of the OPP code, but it’s fanaticism 101. The relocation of the team cuts to the core of a fan base that, frankly, has been reduced to the mere core - New Jersey’s attendance has been at or near the bottom of the NBA for a few years now.
A new stadium will play on the curiosities of the Nets faithful, and the team is certain to generate some fresh interest in its fresh new home, but a massive fault line has been forged between Nets ownership and its lifeline through the recent franchise struggles, and bridging the gap will prove much more difficult than merely crossing the actual bridge to Brooklyn.