Why Did the New Jersey Nets Move to Brooklyn?
Growing up in New Jersey as a kid, I always had hometown pride in the New Jersey Nets. Albeit them not being exactly the best team, they were still the only major basketball team to call New Jersey home. And similarly, I had fond memories of making the trek to the Izod Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey and the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey to watch the hometown Nets play.
Eventually, however, the Nets would make the move to Brooklyn, keeping their original team’s name. But just why did the New Jersey Nets move to Brooklyn and was such a move prudent in both the short and long-term? Below, we are going to look into the Nets’ history and just why they made the move to Brooklyn.
History of the Nets in New Jersey
The Nets, as an NBA basketball franchise, surprisingly to many, have a rich and storied history in the league. The franchise was established in 1967 and was a founding member of the American Basketball Association or ABA. Originally named the New York Americans, the team had difficulty securing an arena in New York due to pressure from the older NBA team, the New York Knicks.
Needing to find a venue to play in, the Nets would decide on playing on the Teaneck Armory in Teaneck, New Jersey. However, the following year, the Teaneck Armory was completely booked out, forcing the team to relocate and play in Commack, New York at the Long Island Arena.
It was in Long Island that the team would rename to the New York Nets, opting for a name which rhymes with two other professional sports teams in the area, the New York Mets and the New York Jets. Although the Nets had their struggles, they would eventually land and acquire Julius Erving, also known as Dr. J, from the Virginia Squires.
With Dr. J at the helm, the Nets would eventually win the ABA championship in the 1974 season and in the 1976 season. However, following the 1976 ABA season, the league would merge with the NBA, with the Nets, the Denver Nuggets, the Indiana Pacers, and the San Antonio Spurs joining the NBA.
However, in joining the NBA, the team would be forced to pay $3.2 million in joining fees to the league. This amount would be coupled with an additional $4.8 million owed to the New York Knicks for “invading” the New York area. These two payments would leave the team short on cash, leading to the team renegading on a promised pay raise for Dr. J.
Due to the team’s inability to offer Julius Erving a pay raise, he would refuse to report to camp. The Nets, left with little options, would offer his contract to the Knicks in return for waiving the indemnity clause. When the Knicks refused the offer, the Philadelphia 76ers would offer $3 million to acquire Dr. J, an offer that the Nets simply couldn’t refuse.
However, after a dismal 1976-77 season, the Nets would relocate back to New Jersey prior to the 1977-78 season. However, once again, the Knicks would threaten the move due to the move infringing on their territorial rights to New Jersey. The Nets would eventually settle with the Knicks, paying them an additional $4 million.
In 1981, the New Jersey Nets would move to the Meadowlands, which would eventually be known as the Izod Center. However, for much of the next two decades, the New Jersey Nets would play quite poorly and develop a notorious reputation around the league, so much so that team president Jon Spoelstra would recommend renaming the team the New Jersey Swamp Dragons.
However, with the turn of the century, the Nets were determined to rebuild. This would eventually lead to the Nets acquiring NBA All-Star Jason Kidd, alongside an all-star team including Kerry Kittles, Richard Jefferson, and Kenyon Martin. Although the Nets would make it to the NBA Finals, they would be swept by the Los Angeles Lakers, led by Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant.
Similarly, the following season, the Nets would return to the NBA Finals, however they would lose to the San Antonio Spurs by 4 games to 2. Although the Nets would sign superstar Vince Carter to their roster, they were never able to return to their former glory.
On February 18, 2010, the Nets finalized a deal that would move them to the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. The Prudential Center would be the final New Jersey arena the Nets would play in. Although the team made a variety of moves to improve, they would never reach their aspirations.
History of the Nets in Brooklyn
In 2004, the New Jersey Nets attempted to secure a deal for a new arena in Newark, New Jersey. However, this deal fell through, eventually leading to the franchise owners, the YankeeNets, to sell the franchise to a group led by the real estate developer Bruce Ratner for $300 million. By selling to Ratner, over Charles Kushner and Jon Corzine, the team would announce eventual plans to move the team to the Brooklyn neighborhood of Prospect. Heights.
With the move to Brooklyn, the Nets would be renamed as the Brooklyn Nets and would announce new team colors, black and white. In addition, two new logos were introduced, with the primary logo depicting the team’s name along with a basketball overlaid with a “B”.
Although the team played admirably in their first few seasons in Brooklyn, it wasn’t until 2019 when the former MVP Kevin Durant would announce his intentions to sign with the Nets that their destiny would turn. In addition to signing Kevin Durant, the Nets would also secure six-time All-Star Kyrie Irving and eventually be able to sign the former MVP James Harden.
In addition, the Brooklyn Nets would sign retired Hall of Fame point guard Steve Nash as their new head coach. In addition, the Nets would eventually sign six-time All-Star Blake Griffin and seven-time All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge. Although the Nets were unable to secure an NBA Finals appearance, losing to the eventual champions the Milwaukee Bucks in seven games in the Conference Semifinals in the 2021 NBA playoffs, they have a bright future ahead of them and are poised to finally bring home an NBA Finals championship.
Reasons Why the Nets Moved to Brooklyn from New Jersey
Although the Nets played a majority of their games and history in New Jersey, both in East Rutherford, New Jersey and Newark, New Jersey, the move to Brooklyn was done mainly for financial reasons. Brooklyn is one of the most populous metro regions in the country and the Barclays Center can be easily accessed by the New York City subway system and the Long Island Railroad system, attracting casual and avid fans to the area.
In addition, the purchase of the Nets franchise by Bruce Ratner was done strategically. In fact, Ratner’s original plan of moving the Nets to Brooklyn to the Barclays Center was done in an effort to attract individuals to the Atlantic Yards, an extensive redevelopment project being constructed by Ratner’s real estate development company.
Furthermore, by moving the franchise from New Jersey to Brooklyn, the Nets were able to attract NBA superstars to the larger metro region. It is a well-known fact that NBA players prefer to play in bigger markets, with additional amenities, opportunities, and recreation activities at their disposal. In fact, without the move to Brooklyn, we don’t believe that either Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, or James Harden would agree to sign with the team.
And lastly, the Nets simply needed an opportunity for rebranding and a new start. Following the two NBA Finals losses, the New Jersey Nets were simply unable to attract additional talent nor return to their former glory. By moving to Brooklyn, the Nets were able to reestablish themselves as a premiere destination for fans and players alike.
Although the move to Brooklyn definitely disheartened this longtime New Jersey local, the move ultimately made the most sense. The Nets have shown that they are willing and able to sign all-star players and make a full run for the NBA championship. Although it still hurts to drive past the Prudential Center, knowing it no longer houses the Nets, we still bleed Nets, whatever color they may be rocking.