The Nets Make Their Comeback

Mike Nicolini

It was July 8, 2010, and every basketball fan was on the edge of their seats, glued to the TV waiting for “The Decision” from LeBron James. This was thought by New Jersey Nets fans as their last chance to build a championship caliber team, after still feeling the effects of finishing a league’s worst of 12-70 the year before.

However, LeBron chose to take his talents to South Beach, leaving the Nets to go back to the drawing board. The only thing the Nets had going for them at this time was the franchise being bought by a Russian billionaire, Mikhail Prokhorov, who is not afraid to reach into his pockets to rebuild from the ground up.

Partial owner of the Nets and hip-hop icon Jay-Z was one of the prime contributors with the idea of moving the franchise to Brooklyn. When the announcement came that the Nets would begin playing in Brooklyn, many fans became excited for the fresh start and great atmosphere in Brooklyn. A professional team had not called Brooklyn home since the Dodgers left for Los Angeles.

The only problem for the organization now is for Mikhail and Jay-Z to put a roster together and give the fans something to cheer about. There was much speculation that the Nets were going to land Carmelo Anthony, but they lost the bidding war to the New York Knicks. This gave fans another let down and only reminded them more about missing out on LeBron, too. Then out of the blue, the Nets pulled the trigger on a blockbuster trade with the Utah Jazz, landing Deron Williams and giving up Devin Harris, Derrick Favors and draft picks.

During the final season in New Jersey, the Nets had their cornerstone of the franchise that they could build around. However, Nets general manager Billy King knew this was not enough. King went out and made another deal, this time with the Portland Trail Blazers, landing defensive specialist Gerald Wallace in exchange for Mehmet Okur and a lottery- protected draft pick.

The Nets were beginning to look like a team worth mentioning again, but the question on everyone’s mind was whether this was enough to keep Williams happy. Williams was set to enter the free agency waters, and rumors already began surfacing that he would return to his hometown and play for the Dallas Mavericks.

Other rumors suggested that Williams was leaning towards the Mavericks because he wanted to play for a contender. But then, one day it all changed. King and the rest of the Nets organization made yet another blockbuster deal, this time with the Atlanta Hawks for all-star shooting guard Joe Johnson.

The Nets gave up Jordan Farmar, Johan Petro, Anthony Morrow, Deshawn Stevenson and a lottery-protected, first round pick in exchange. This trade put an end to the “Dwightmare,” referring to the chaos Dwight Howard brought by demanding to be traded. However, the Nets and Orlando Magic could never agree on a deal.

After the Nets traded for Johnson, it became clear that Williams was going to stay; he made it official when he wrote on his Twitter account, “I had a difficult decision to make,” followed by a picture of a Brooklyn Nets hat.

When this became official, all the pieces began coming together for Prokhorov as he was able to resign center Brook Lopez and power forward Kris Humphries, but not trade the up-and-coming Providence youngster, Marshon Brooks. After an offseason consisting of head coach Avery Johnson trying to build chemistry between all the new players, the much-anticipated opening night in the Barclays Center was approaching. The team would be playing the Knicks on Nov. 1, 2012.

However, due to the effects and damage caused by Hurricane Sandy, the game was postponed. Nets fans had to wait for the following day when the Brooklyn Nets opened their season with a victory over the Raptors.

The atmosphere during opening night in Brooklyn was greater than any game they had in New Jersey. Chants of “Brooklyn, Brooklyn,” echoed throughout the stadium during the game. When asked about the chant after the game, Joe Johnson responded, “I love the chant. That gave me jitters, man, chills.”

Prokhorov, Jay-Z and the Nets’ fan base finally made their dream a reality. Now it is up to the players to do what they were brought to Brooklyn to do, and that is contend for and win a championship.