Fan On The Couch: Episode 5

Naje…Naje…Naje…Not Gonna Play Here Anymore

By Tony Maglio

Life is a funny thing.  One moment you’re in an Escondidos, drinking Modelo and thinking the Nets are going to win a very tough road game in New Orleans.  The next moment it is all taken away from you on bad switch defense and a touch-foul homer call.  You still have your Modelo, but the food kind of sucks and nothing else is the same.  Life and the Nets are similar in this regard, if you get your hopes too high, both can let you down.  I should have been a Lakers fan, and we should have gone to Chili’s.

But once in a while, both life and the Nets throw you a bone.  Some days you wake up and the world just feels right.  It doesn’t feel like New Jersey in January anymore.  You watch Paul Blart: Mall Cop – and it’s not even as bad as you thought it would be.  There are two NFL playoff games on later; and it’s a Saturday!  You turn on your laptop, head to, and you realize why everyone seems to have an extra spring in their step today, why neighbors are somewhat extra-neighborly – Eduardo Najera is gone.  He’s really gone.  And he’s (hopefully) never coming back.  I haven’t been this happy to see someone leave since that time in college when a blind date came over 40 pounds heavier than her picture.

I’ve wanted Najera out of the locker room like he was a gun owner with a gambling debt and bad knees.  I was hoping the Nets would send him to Brooklyn two years in advance on some made up location-scouting assignment.  Najera’s spent too much time in front of me in Section 114 making unathletic plays, too many evenings in my living room bricking jumpers – I wanted him out of my house like an abusive father.  I have been waiting for this day for what seems like forever, picturing every glorious detail prematurely like a little girl plans her future wedding.

Najera had endeared himself to casual Nets fans for some reason I really don’t understand.  He has a reputation of being a hard-worker and a “hustle player”, but so do I – that doesn’t mean you want either of us on your basketball team.  Now Eduardo Najera is Dallas’s problem.  I’m convinced this trade only happened because the collective Dallas community was distracted by the Eagles/Cowboys game, and that is just fine by me.  I hate the Cowboys, but they could have the Super Bowl so long as they take Najera.  I feel like I should send Mark Cuban a fruit basket.

Now, I don’t know anything about Kris Humphries or new-spelling Shawne Williams, but it doesn’t matter if they ever see the floor.  It really doesn’t even matter if they exist.  The important thing is that now Eduardo Najera only exists in our memories, and hopefully less often, our nightmares.

I would have made this trade at any cost.  I would have traded Najera for one red paperclip. I would have used my childhood best friend Kenny’s flawed system for trading baseball cards where he used to absorb tremendous losses, swapping good players with my brother and I simply to get cards of any player named “Ken”.  We were making impossible trades in the late 80’s like Gordon Gekko in Wall Street.  The joke was on us though when Ken Caminiti started doing more steroids than the Oakland A’s in the 90’s and won the NL MVP.  Although I suppose you could make the case that in the end Caminiti got the worst deal of all of us.

So goodbye Eduardo, it’s been real.  Real bad, much like your game.  I’d thank you for your service and wish you the best, but like most sentiments in my life – that would be insincere.  But I can tell you one thing from the bottom of my heart: I can’t wait to turn on the Sunday night game (and all subsequent games) and not see you and your stupid non-basketball-player haircut either sitting on the bench or on the court, redefining “garbage time”.  Now the only time I’ll have to see that butchered hairstyle and lame performance is in Luke Wilson AT&T commercials.  Life is truly beautiful (except for the aforementioned AT&T commercials).