I read this today:
The New Jersey Nets have reached an agreement in principle with free agent… Travis Outlaw.
I think I vomited a little in my mouth.
Yes, Travis has six letters in his first name just like Lebron, but the similarities end there. We won’t know officially where Lebron James is headed (Miami) until ESPN’s ridiculous hour-long special tonight, but even Sly knows everybody’s favorite free agent will not be a Net.
The glory years of the Nets are a distant memory: a perennial Eastern Conference playoff team for 7 seasons, two years ago Nets GM Rod Thorn torpedoed the roster, trading away Jason Kidd and Richard Jefferson, their last links to the team that made the NBA finals two years in a row. The next season, Vince Carter was shipped out as well.
The only thing of value they got from all three trades was Devin Harris… and:
The biggest asset that the trade gave the Nets was salary cap room for the 2010 free agent bonanza that might include LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Amare Stoudemire and Chris Paul. -The Associated Press, June 27, 2008
Except, now it’s 2010, and the Nets have signed Travis Outlaw.
In 2012, the Nets will move to Brooklyn, and I will officially no longer be a fan. What’s left to root for? It’s a terrible team that’s abandoned its fans.
And it’s all because of Lebron James.
Now, maybe its unfair to pin it all on him. But the move to Brooklyn wouldn’t have had enough traction without the promise of a marquee name to scoop up jaded ex-Knicks fans and fill seats in the new Barclay’s Center. And the Nets wouldn’t have replaced their roster with midgets on unicycles if they didn’t want to clear cap room for the biggest marquee name of them all.
Of course, Lebron didn’t tell the Nets to stop playing basketball and start playing an ancient form of Polynesian hot-potato in order to set themselves up as his potential landing place. But he didn’t disabuse the notion either. Jay-Z, part owner of the Nets, is allegedly a good friend. Lebron couldn’t tip him off that he didn’t quite see himself setting up alley-oops with DeSagana Diop? C’mon man!
In New York City, we demand the best from our sports teams. We demand they win every year. Yet the Nets, determined to no longer be the distant cousin of the New York metro area’s basketball teams, have retooled their roster to lose, and lose big. All on a huge gamble that didn’t pay off.
Maybe they spent too much time in Atlantic City.
So damn you, Lebron James. Damn you for not dashing our hopes sooner. Damn you for being the bright shiny thing everyone wanted, tantalizing us with your anti-gravity Nikes and NBA Jam-style skills. Damn you for making the Nets this century’s Jimmy Hoffa: buried somewhere in the Meadowlands, never to be seen or heard from again.
Unless you do somehow sign with us. In that case, welcome!