It’s been awhile since we had our last Friday Flashback, and this time around, I decided to focus on the
New Jersey Brooklyn Nets. The Nets played their last home game in New Jersey this week, and they’ll be moving back to New York next season.
Discussions over their impending move have sometimes neglected to mention that they’ve done this all before, many many times (albeit without Jay-Z): the Barclays Center will be their eighth home arena. Considering that they are a comfortably middle-aged franchise at 45 years, that’s a new place to play every 6.5 years. Only the Hawks and Kings have moved as many times, but both teams have twenty years on those nomad Nets (including significantly farther relocations).
Bonus NBA Trivia #1: The Phoenix Suns made their debut just one year later and have only moved once. Amateurs.
Generally, I’m not a big fan of basketball or the Nets, but as you’ll see, some of their arenas have a special place in my heart. So without further ado, the complete retrospective of places that the Nets called “home”:
Remember the ABA? Yeah, me neither (sorry, Mr. Coworker, I know you hate when I point out that I wasn’t alive for things). Back in 1967, the New Jersey Americans made their debut in the league with a solid record, but the Teaneck Armory was booked during the playoffs. This forced the Nets to move to their next arena before they even ended their first season…but that one had “unacceptable playing conditions” and they had to forfeit their win-and-you’re-in game to the Kentucky Colonels. That’s kind of a sad story, and one that you certainly can’t imagine happening in this millennium, but I promise it’s 100% true.
Even though the poor quality of the floor forced the Nets to forfeit that game, they decided, “hey, why not stay here?” And this arena that was deemed unacceptable is the first stop on my personal flashback tour: The Long Island Arena.
The Long Island Arena was in my hometown (I’ll only occasionally admit I’m from Long Island, so this is a big step for me). I only ever knew it as, wait for it, a flea market. I didn’t see any slamdunks there, but I did get an awesome slammer for my pog collection at one of the little stands right when you walked in. The
flea market arena was torn down at least ten years ago, so if this post inspires you to take a “Nets Past and Present” road trip, you’ll have to celebrate Stadium #2 by standing in the beauty aisles of the local Target.
When I was younger, I had no idea the Nets only played there for a season. When people said “the Nets played there”, they didn’t qualify that statement with “a long time ago, for one year, and attendance sucked”. That being said, their move to the LI Arena prompted their name change to the New York Nets.
Bonus Trivia #2: Part of the motivation behind the name change was that it rhymed with the New York Mets and Jets. Neat.
The Island Garden Arena, home #3, doesn’t appear to have much of a history on the internet. Despite the fact that they played there for three seasons, the search for a good picture of the arena (fully constructed) was in vain. The need-to-know basics: it was also on Long Island, the Nets made the playoffs a few times, and the structure was partially demolished for a shopping center. Part of it is still there for youth basketball, though, so good on ya, so the IGA is still going strong in its own way.
This brings us to Stadium 4: Ugh. Also known as Nassau Coliseum.
I’m sorry, I just can’t. I’ve been to Nassau Coliseum more times than I can count: Islanders games. College fairs. The occasional Sesame Street Live performance. Every time, I come out a little sadder (and not because the Islanders just lost). I’m sure it was state-of-the-art when the Nets played there, but forty years later the poor girl is showing her age. If this article is re-written ten years from now, it’s entirely possible that Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum will be added to the list of arenas that have been knocked down for a shopping mall. It’s a big part of my childhood, though, so I’m unwilling to part with it just yet. It’s still got a few Islanders is-this-their-year seasons left in it.
Oh, right, the Nets. The Coliseum was a high point: they won two titles and moved to the NBA as part of the merger in 1976. So overall, not too shabby in fives years of play.
We’re picking up speed, folks, it’s back to New Jersey! After poor attendance and some anti-trust legal actions, the (now) New Jersey Nets played in the Rutgers Athletic Center while they waited for their own arena in the Garden State. The center itself isn’t all that picturesque from the outside, and the Nets failed to earn a winning record while playing there, so I’m glossing over it. If your appetite for arena pictures is insatiable, google it by it’s current name, the Louis Brown Athletic Center.
The next arena has had three names itself (whew, confusing!). So we’ll just call it by all three:
If you were wondering they averaged 6 years an arena when they were playing a season here, a season there, this is how: three decades in this joint. Quite frankly, there is too much history to address in just a few sentences, so I refer you to their Wikipedia page. I wish I could say this included a bevy of league titles, but that would be a lie. But they lost in the finals twice and made the playoffs fifteen times, so that’s not small potatoes either.
I chose this picture rather than the countless others of the Izod Center because it’s charming. The facade is simple and not covered in advertisements, the name isn’t “company endorsement in your face” big, and shape just makes it look like it belongs in a slideshow of defunct Walt Disney World EPCOT pavilions, doesn’t it?
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention their most recent home, but they only played two seasons there and I think they are two seasons in particular that Nets fans would like to forget it. I won’t rub lemon on your wounds, I promise. You’d have enough lemon juice to hurl right back at this Mets fan anyway.
Which brings me to this monstrosity:
Full disclosure: I live within walking distance of this beast. And when I say within walking distance, I mean I catch a glimpse of it every morning when I’m walking to the subway. It’s not pretty, and it’s going to cause traffic jams that would give a new traffic-copter operator nightmares. I’m sure it will look beautiful when it’s done, but because I’m spiteful, I won’t include the concept art. And perhaps it will be good for the area, I suppose I will find out firsthand. (This picture is courtesy of Park Slope Patch, to provide credit where it’s due, taken within the last month to show the progress of the construction).
The new name of the New Jersey Nets, formerly the New York Nets, formerly the New Jersey Americans, will be simply “The Brooklyn Nets”. I, for one, was rooting for The Brooklyn Ballers. For the fans sake, I hope they manage to make their way back to the playoffs before another Russian businessman-turned-presidential-candidate buys them and moves them elsewhere.