Tonight in Newark, the Sixers’ visit to Prudential Center marks the end of top-flight (ahem) professional basketball in the Garden State. While the Nets plan to commemorate their glorious Jersey tenure with pregame festivities featuring such solid citizens as Derrick Coleman and Michael Ray Richardson, a man who was at onetime, the face of the franchise, finds himself persona non grata, as the New York Daily News’ Stefan Bondy explains :
Jayson Williams, fresh out of Rikers Island, wasn’t invited to Monday night’s ceremony celebrating the Nets’ final game in New Jersey.
But the former All-Star, who dominated the glass in the late ’90s, clearly hasn’t lost his love for the franchise that harbored his best basketball years. After prison and rehabilitation, the New Jersey resident is clearly eager to rekindle a relationship with the Nets — even if the team isn’t ready.
“I don’t think there is a person who loves the Nets as much as I do — from our fans, all the employees in the arenas, the front office personnel and the owners,” Williams said through his longtime friend and manager, Akhtar Farzaie. “I will always be loyal to our fans and the Nets.”
Williams, the former St. John’s center, who accidentally shot and killed his limousine driver in 2002, was not contacted by the Nets after being released April 13.