After the New Jersey Devils defeated the Philadelphia Flyers to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals last Tuesday, I couldn’t help but think that winning and heading to the Stanley Cup would be the biggest slap in the face to the now Brooklyn Nets organization.
After not being able to secure a stadium deal in New Jersey, the Nets, starting next season, will move to Brooklyn, leaving New Jersey with one last true pro sports team, the ever-flourishing Devils. Not only have the Devils flourished, but they have flourished all while making New Jersey a household name for something other than spray tans, fist-pumping, and hair gel. Even a billboard off the Turnpike sponsored by the Devils says, “We proudly wear our state on our chest.”
This is something the Nets really never did. Even with a team consisting of Jason Kidd and Vince Carter, the team never really garnered the attention of a Jersey fanbase that longs for a team to support. Even I can’t stand the Nets, and support the Knicks. There was just something about the team, besides its record, that just seemed so bland. Being a Nets fan was kind of like being a Mets fan. Sure, the teams had bits of success, but they just seemed more like little brother to the Knicks and Yankees than actual rivals.
The Devils, on the other hand, have not only played themselves into being rivals with the Rangers, but they’ve created their own identity, something the Nets have never been able to do.
With a good chance that the Devils will actually make the Stanley Cup this year, Jersey can no longer be looked at as another state without an important pro-sports team. Not only is the team showing the NHL that a team can thrive in New Jersey, but it’s showing other sports leagues that New Jersey can be successful without being under New York’s shadow. Honestly, it would not surprise me that within the next 10 years, that a basketball team comes back to New Jersey, and if/when that day happens, one can hope that it will embrace the Jersey name and prove to be a successful team.
Just for the love of God, David Stern, don’t give us the Bobcats…
-Anthony J. Machcinski