The Nets Were One Cold-Feet Vote Away From Being the “New Jersey Swamp Dragons”

“We were, in a sense, putting the Nets in the witness-protection program,” Spoelstra said last week. “In the NBA, the Nets had never achieved anything of worth, and the Nets – I still believe is sort of a crummy name. It would be like the Yankees being named the New York ‘Second Bases.'”

Not everyone was thrilled with the idea – including Gov. Christie Whitman.

“She called me personally and said, ‘We’ve been trying to convince people for 20 years that that swamp is a meadow by calling it Meadowlands, and now you’re naming your team Swamp Dragons?” Spoelstra said.

Still, the change was approved by each member of the ‘Secaucus Seven,’ the Nets’ ownership group at the time – a minor miracle, considering they seldom agreed on anything. Then it was approved by the executive committee of the NBA’s board of governors, after which the league spent more than $500,000 to trademark the name in hundreds of countries.

All it needed now was the approval of the NBA’s 27 owners.

“Of the 27 votes, 26 of them came back with a ‘yes,'” Spoelstra said. “And one came back with a ‘no.’ The problem was, that one vote was the New Jersey Nets.”

Huh? The seven owners used to rotate who would vote on such matters, and this was David Gerstein’s turn to vote.

“He got cold feet,” Spoelstra said. “I told David Stern, ‘We still have a majority.’ He said, ‘Yeah, but the one [expletive] guy that didn’t vote for it is your owner.'”

More: Andy Vasquez, The Record — Nets’ middling-if-not-colorful history

10 million imaginary points to the best photoshop of a potential “New Jersey Swamp Dragons” logo.