By John Torenli
It happened quietly amid the hubbub of owner Mikhail Prokhorov’s visit to Brooklyn last week. But it happened just the same.
After giving his state-of-the-Nets/Barclays Center address at the “75 percent complete” arena last Tuesday, and attending a pair of his team’s games for the first time in over a year, the Russian billionaire finally got what he came here for.
The NBA Board of Governors on Friday officially approved the relocation of the Nets from Newark to Downtown via a unanimous vote.
The 18,200-seat Barclays Center, which will open for business with a Jay-Z concert on Sept. 28, will be the new home of the Nets franchise after 35 seasons in New Jersey.
The major pro sports team will be Brooklyn’s first since the Dodgers left for Los Angeles following the 1957 season.
Prokhorov and Barclays Center developer and majority owner Bruce Ratner issued the following joint statement regarding the league’s long-expected rubber-stamp approval:
“We would like to express our heartfelt thanks to [commissioner] David Stern and the NBA team owners for their role in making the Nets’ move to Brooklyn a reality. Barclays Center will give the Nets a state-of-the-art new home and, together, we will give Brooklyn the great sports and entertainment experience it so deserves. We are looking forward to the opening of Barclays Center on Sept. 28 and to the start of the next NBA season as the Brooklyn Nets.”
The Nets, who moved to New Jersey in 1977 after originating on Long Island as part of the defunct American Basketball Association, announced this week that they will honor several of their former players and coaches during the team’s final home game at Newark’s Prudential Center on Monday.
Former Nets scheduled to participate include Kenny Anderson, Otis Birdsong, Darwin Cook, Derrick Coleman, Kendall Gill, Albert King, Kerry Kittles, Chris Morris and Mike O’Koren.
“In our final home game in New Jersey, we want to demonstrate our deep appreciation to the players and coaches who have been part of this organization during its 35 years in the state,” said Nets CEO Brett Yormark. “We also want to especially thank our great fans for their support and loyalty. We have enjoyed many exciting moments while in the Garden State, especially the team’s back-to-back Eastern Conference championships in 2002 and 2003. We look forward to celebrating our history together during the last game as we move on to the team’s next chapter.”
“The New Jersey Nets have been part of the fabric of sports in this state for more than three decades,” added Nets General Manager Billy King. “Players such as Buck Williams, Drazen Petrovic, Derrick Coleman, Micheal Ray Richardson and Jason Kidd all called Jersey home at one point during their careers. The final game on the 23rd will present a fitting tribute to this rich history of NBA basketball in the Garden State.”
Tickets for Monday’s historic final game against Philadelphia are available at nba.com/NETS or by calling 800-4NBA-TIX.