Tonight at the Prudential Center, after 35 crazy years, New Jersey will say goodbye to the Nets. Or is it the Nets saying goodbye to New Jersey? Either way, tonight certainly ends a chapter in NBA history. Not a particularly significant chapter especially since they're only moving 80 miles north but a chapter nonetheless.
They're the the New Jersey Nets! It's going to be weird not having them around.
For a great look back at all the ups and (mostly) downs of the franchise's time in the Dirty Jerz, check out Harvey Araton's story from Sunday's New York Times but not until you're done here.
In all, the Celtics played 168 games against the "New Jersey Nets." They finished with a record of 112-56 and their winning percentage (.667) is higher against Jersey than it is against all but two current NBA franchises (BobcatsClippers).
If there's a bright side for the Nets, it's that they came out on top the only two times they met Boston in the playoffs. They were also the only one of the two franchises to employ both Yinka Dare AND Gheorghe Muresan. Also, there's this:
Let's set the Box Score Bank to October 28, 1977
Jimmy Carter was wrapping up his first year as president. "You Light Up My Life" by Debbie Boone was the No. 1 song in America. Annie Hall was the reigning Best Picture. Doc Rivers was a sophomore standout at Chicago's Proviso East High School. Jay Z was seven.
And over at the Rutgers Athletic Center, on the campus of Rutgers University, the Nets earned their first ever win in the NBA courtesy of your Boston Celtics.
Final Score: Nets 116, Celtics 109
New Jersey was led by 21-year-old rookie Bernard King, who averaged 24 points and 9.5 rebounds in his first season and dropped 30 in this one. The win improved the Nets to 1-5 on the year, but there was little improvement from there. They started 3-22 and went on to finish last in the Atlantic with a record of 24-58.
As for the Celtics, as you could probably guess, this was a tough year. They were led by 37-year-old John Havlicek and 29-year-old Dave Cowens (who combined for 47 points against the Nets) but there wasn't much after that. The C's started the season 11-23, at which point head coach Tommy Heinsohn (what ever happened that guy?) stepped down. He was replaced by Satch Sanders but the switch did little for the C's who finished 32-50 only their second losing record in 27 years.
But it wasn't all bad for Boston. That awful record landed them the No 6 pick in the draft, which they used to nab some slow white guy out of Indiana State.
They went on to dominate the Nets from there more so than they did pretty much any team in the league. But not before helping them break into the NBA win column.
Finally, just for fun, here's my personal all-time New Jersey Nets squad:
PG: Kenny Anderson
SG: Drazen Petrovic
SF: Armon Gilliam (going with a big line up)
PF: Buck Williams
C: Yinka Dare