Since it originally opened in 1972, the Nassau Coliseum has certainly seen it’s share of championships with some moments from local teams that shook the foundation of the building.
Most notably, the Islanders won three of their four straight Stanley Cups from 1980 to 1983 at the arena now called NYCB Live, Home of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The New York Nets won two ABA Championships in 1974 and again in 1976 with the second one coming in the last game ever played in league history and it was at the Coliseum. Also, the New York Arrows indoor soccer team won two of their four straight MISL titles from 1979 to 1982 at Nassau Coliseum.
While the Islanders are headed to the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in three years, the other current Coliseum tenant has already provided the first championship moment in the renovated building that re-opened in 2015. On Tuesday night, the Long Island Nets captured the NBA G League’s Eastern Conference Championship with a thrilling 108-106 overtime win over the Lakeland Magic on Theo Pinson’s three pointer with four tenths of a second to go in OT.
In their two seasons playing at the Coliseum, the Nets have certainly had challenges drawing fans, but the crowds picked up a bit for their two home games thus far in the playoffs. Last night, I was in the crowd of around 2,300 and while it wasn’t the 13,917 that will fill the building for Islanders first round playoff games, it was a big step in the right direction for a franchise that is still working hard to build a fan base.
As the Nets crept back into the game and then as the contest went into overtime, there was a legitimate buzz in the building and the place erupted when the game winning shot was hit. It was a pretty cool moment for G-League Head Coach of the year Will Weaver, the players, and the staff that works so hard to get the word out about a franchise that is successful on the court and delivers so much to the community.
I’m on record saying that I’m not the biggest basketball aficionado in the world, but my family and I always enjoy going to the games because as their slogan says, the Long Island Nets are “More Than A Game”. It’s family affordable sports entertainment with seats closer to the court than many people will every get to experience at an NBA game. These players are working their butts off to try and get to the next level but they also get it…they take time to talk to the fans and take photos and sign autographs for the kids.
The Long Island Nets were already winners but on Tuesday night, they became champions…and they still have one more hill to climb and that is winning the G-League Championship. Good luck in the Finals!