John Calipari led an upstart New Jersey Nets, now Brooklyn Nets, team into the playoffs to face Jordan’s “Last Dance” team. Here’s how that season went.
In these strange times where a documentary series based on 20+-year-old events tastes closer than anything else to Brooklyn Nets games or any live sports, one’s attention naturally shifts towards different endeavors. During this sporting reprieve, will one turn to a new hobby? Perhaps something more stoic, maybe some reading? E-sports I hear are quite popular?
For some (including myself), newfound elements of sports simply rear their heads and replace the missing live-action. For me, these “newfound elements” have actually mostly not been new, but rather “old” — I’ve been turning to sports’ past.
The Last Dance, in case you haven’t heard, is ESPN’s recent massive 10-part series co-telling the rise of Michael Jordan over the backdrop of his Bulls’ 1997-98 season. So come Episode 7, when they face off against the underdog New Jersey Nets, my sports history-junkie and Nets fandom collide to form a burning desire to learn about this seemingly forgotten team.
Just what exactly was this squad that nearly took two games from the mighty Bulls in Chicago? They have been relatively ignored by sporting scribes as of this point, but perhaps the resurfacing of their exploits against Jordan will lead to more ink on their behalf.
The 1997-98 Nets burned passionately but came and faded fast. The team had not made the playoffs since the Derrick Coleman–Kenny Anderson heyday of 1994. In 1996, the Nets hired an eccentric youngster from the college ranks named John Calipari to manage the team — perhaps you’ve heard of him.
Thus, this piece is meant to be an exploration of the forgotten 1997-98 Nets. Thanks to a combination of The Last Dance and the current lack of live sports, they finally have a right to deserve your attention.
Consider this a trip into a late 90s portal and see how different the fortunes of some of the key Net characters have come.
Also, it’s another excuse to talk about The Last Dance!