NEWARK, N.J. (AP) Hours after Gov. Chris Christie bid the Brooklyn-bound team good riddance, the stars of the team's 35-year stay in the Garden State gathered at the team's final game to talk, laugh, share old memories and express some sadness the franchise is leaving for a new home.
The typically blunt Christie kicked things off roughly four hours before the tipoff when he said he would shed no tears over the departure of the Nets, who lost their final home game 105-87 the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday night.
''My message to them is, goodbye,'' Christie said at an afternoon news conference at Newark Beth Israel Hospital where he signed a bill to promote organ and tissue donation. ''You don't want to stay, we don't want you.''
The Nets have played the last two of their 35 years in New Jersey in Newark at the Prudential Center Arena, the high-tech home built by the city of Newark and the NHL's New Jersey Devils in 2007.
The Nets' owners in the 1990s had sought to move the team to Newark from the Meadowlands but couldn't work out financing a new arena. They eventually sold the franchise in 2004 to real estate developer Bruce Ratner, whose plan all along was to move the team to Brooklyn, and the Nets wound up in Newark as they waited for the Barclays Center in Brooklyn to be completed.
Christie scoffed at the team's decision to choose New York over New Jersey.
''That's one of the most beautiful arenas in America they have a chance to play in, it's in one of the country's most vibrant cities, and they want to leave here and go to Brooklyn?'' he asked. ''Good riddance, see you later. I think there'll be some other NBA team who may be looking to relocate and they might look at that arena and the fan base in the New Jersey and New York area and say, 'This is an opportunity to increase our fan base and try something different.''
Just to give a little perspective for those who forgot what its like to have a team abandon you for another market. It seems NJ is already moving on and is ready to get another team. A team that wants to be in NJ.