Nothing but Nets...
Sorry little bro, my Nets are about to own the Big Apple
My brother, Kevin, and I have always bonded over sports.
It started ever since we were kids, when Kevin fell in love with the Toronto Raptors, but most notably, their star shooting guard Vince Carter.
Carter became my brother’s favorite player. He loved the way he would dunk on defenses in traffic, or his flashy fadeaway jump shot. He had pictures and basketball cards of Vince stuffed into binders, filling the pages to the brim. He read his book, memorized his stats, wore his jersey out with a white sweatband. It was almost as if he wanted to be Vince, not just root for him.
Around the same time, I discovered the YES Network which has aired New Jersey Nets games for as long as I can remember.
And like Kevin and his love for Vince Carter, I couldn’t take my eyes off Nets point guard Jason Kidd.
My eyes would be glued to the television screen as Kidd would throw a behind the back pass into a crowded post or take that three-point shot that just barely dropped through the net.
Kidd was the flashiest player on the court, but not because he would leap through the air and jam the ball through the rim. His play was seamless, smooth, fluid. It was as if he simply out-smarted every other player out there.
The Raptors-Nets rivalry became a hot topic in our house those days. I was 12-years-old, Kevin was nine, and we were just discovering the game of NBA basketball and how amazing it was. We would watch games every night and talk about them afterward, staying up past our bedtime until our parents begged us to go to sleep.
In December of 2004, I had to break the news to my brother that Vince Carter had been traded from the Toronto Raptors to the New Jersey Nets.
I’ll never forget the look he had when he realized that it was true.
That his childhood hero, his favorite player ever, was gone from his team. That those Toronto Raptors that he loved so much would never be the same because the player he couldn’t stop watching was gone for good.
I remember feeling like the trade was my fault because I was a Nets fan. I got to have my guy and his, and that just didn’t feel right.
Playoff series, winning and losing seasons, division titles have all come and gone since that fateful December trade, and Kevin and I have never given up on our teams, no matter how much they have struggled over the years.
We’ve never stopped debating basketball, no matter how much we watch it.
Every year, Kevin and I try to make the trip up to the Air Canada Centre in Toronto to catch a game between our two favorite teams, and most of the time, the games have been close. The Raptors will win some, the Nets will win some. Some even take it to overtime.
It never really mattered who came out on top, what mattered was the time spent together in the hours leading up to, during and after the game. Going to a basketball game became more than just going to a basketball game.
But over the last few years, Kevin and I have had something in common with our teams: They were both bad.
The Raptors or Nets were never playoff contenders or title threats. They were just two below-average NBA teams who struggled with the best of them. They didn’t make any splashes, they didn’t bring in marquee names. They played losing, 35-win-season basketball.
Until this year.
In the past week and a half of NBA free agency, the team formally known as the New Jersey Nets have made about as much noise as you can in this period. Moving into their new arena in Brooklyn, the now-named Brooklyn Nets have resigned their star point guard Deron Williams, brought in six-time All-Star Joe Johnson and are on the verge of acquiring the best center in the NBA, Dwight Howard.
The Raptors have made moves, too, bringing in Kyle Lowry from Houston and Landry Fields from New York. They also have a promising rookie by the name of Jonas Valanciunas on his way over from Lithuania.
But even Kevin will admit, these moves have not reached the caliber of what my Nets are doing.
For the first time in about six years, the gap on the skill levels between our teams is widening. When the season starts, there will be a clear team better than the other.
It will be the Brooklyn Nets.
It’s a pretty great time to start rooting for the Nets as they begin to take over the city of New York. In a region that had just the Knicks, a team who has had their share of difficulties over the years, there is now a legitimate battle for which team will own the state.
The Brooklyn Nets are all-new and they are ready to roll.
For me, though, the rivalry isn’t about that battle for New York, it’s about the battle for our house in Livonia.
It’s about the endless nights staying up into the late hours of the morning talking basketball, and counting down the days until we could find out which one of our teams was better.
It’s about more than just a basketball game, and for us, it always will be.
— To read more Chris Hooker takes on his beloved Nets go to www.netsarescorching.com.
Chris is a 2009 graduate of Livonia Central and currently a senior-to-be at Susquehanna University, He is working as a summer intern for the Livingston County News.