After putting their fans through misery for decades, the New Jersey Nets have turned over a new leaf. Next season the Nets are moving to Brooklyn, bringing NBA basketball to the home of basketball greats such as Lenny Wilkens, Mike Dunleavy and Stephon Marbury.
The Brooklyn Nets recently unveiled their new logo, designed by the team’s part owner Jay-Z. With the Nets being perennial bottom-dwellers for as long as I can remember, does a move to Brooklyn portend better things to come for a team that finished the latest season with a .333 winning percentage? Will slick new uniforms and a fancy new arena turn the Nets from losers to winners?
The Nets are not the first U.S. pro sports team to move from one city to another. The Hartford Whalers moved down to North Carolina in 1997. After a long run of mediocrity in Hartford, the team, which was renamed the Carolina Hurricanes, made it to the Stanley Cup finals in 2002. While they did not win the cup that year, they did take home Lord Stanley’s Cup in 2006.
Likewise, the Cleveland Browns were an atrocious team for a long, long time. Then, like the Whalers, they moved to Baltimore in 1996 and were renamed the Ravens. In 2001 the Ravens won the Super Bowl. Same goes for the Rams, which moved to St. Louis from L.A. prior to the 1995 season. They won the Super Bowl in 2000, beating out the Tennessee Titans (who had moved to Tennessee from Houston just a few years earlier).
Yes, the Washington Nationals moved to D.C. from Montreal and have yet to become very competitive (though they are very much on their way). The Seattle Supersonics moved to Oklahoma City and have been way better since the move.
If the Whalers, Browns and Rams (and Titans) could turn things around so quickly following a move from one city to another, who is to say the same can’t happen for the Nets? Jay-Z has sold around 50 million records worldwide, has amassed a fortune estimated at around $450 million and has won more than a dozen Grammy Awards. And, he is married to Beyoncé, for crying out loud. If I were a betting man, I say put your money on Jay-Z and take the Nets to win the NBA championship by 2018. If the Whalers can do it in Carolina and the Browns can do it in Baltimore, just imagine what moving from the New Jersey swamps to the home of the Cyclone can do for the NBA’s most disappointing franchise.