Anyway, we both were finished with school, got our diplomas and got a job in 2000. One year later, we finally were ready to go. And then 9/11 happened, one month before our departure. We were in our early twenties, and his parents were concerned with our travelling plans, for safety reasons and whatnot. I became a bit frustrated, because they didn’t want us to go, while I had that “screw it!” mentality. I thought the odds of it happening again, one month after the original attacks, were slim to nothing. So we went to Orlando, enjoying the weather, not doing anything, really, but still, finally achieving a childhood dream as two best friends. Corny isn’t it? Not even a huge road trip or anything, nope, we hardly did anything over there, and it was great. We went to see the Orlando Magic taking on the Houston Rockets in a preseason game, but sadly enough I can’t remember all that much from that night. I only remember seeing Grant Hill play, and not many people in Orlando had that opportunity. He already was injured for about a year, and when I saw him move on the court I remember thinking to myself: “Damn, he’s still pretty damn fast and moving fluidly, he’s back!” Too bad that it didn’t take too long before he was down again with all those freak injuries.
I also remember watching a preseason game in our apartment where Michael Jordan had his best game since coming out of retirement, scoring 41 points against my New Jersey Nets. I don’t think the good people in Washington ever were so excited for a preseason game. I just watched the highlights again, and in his most exciting shot of the evening, a young small forward named Richard Jefferson absolutely got screwed by the ref, but it sure was nice to see MJ doing his thing in that game. But it hurt to see him in a Wizards uniform. After ’98 Jordan never should’ve come back.
We went to a local sports shop, and I went straight to the NBA section. In The Netherlands, there aren’t many stores who sell anything related to the NBA, so I had to look for one special item. Because a few months before our trip, my beloved Nets traded for Jason Kidd. My new favorite player. During the reign of the Bulls, I was a Pippen fan, but since he left in 1998, and I was already following the Nets, I didn’t really have one favorite player. But with Kidd, I finally had one again. He, like Pippen, was a player who does a little bit of everything. Not quite a scorer (although he did average 18,7 ppg for the Nets in ’03), he was one hell of a rebounder for a guard, and makes a team better.
While standing in the store with my ‘new jersey’ in my hand, this lady who worked there approached me saying something in the line of “It’s been a long time since someone bought a Nets jersey”, and I probably said something lame like “Yeah, but Jason Kidd is there now, something is gonna change”. Something did change. Finals appearances in ’02 and ’03, playoffs every year, triple doubles, epic battles with the Celtics, Knicks, Pacers, and one of the best regular season games of all time, when they played a triple-overtime game against the Suns. So many memories, but in a few hours my favorite player will hopefully do a lot of good (and get that 100th triple-double) for the Dallas Mavericks. I’ll always remain a Nets fan, and I will talk about the trade itself another time, but I will also remain a Jason Kidd fan, the best Net ever since the Nets entered the NBA in 1976. All the best Jason. Thank you for all the joy you provided me as a Nets fan. And every now and then, I’ll put on that jersey when I’m out shooting some hoops. I finally have a vintage jersey, a Nets legend.