We’re two weeks away from the start of the New Jersey Nets’ 2005-2006 season and for the Newark Star Ledger’s Dave D’Allessandro, said tip-off can’t come soon enough, apparently.

It™s official: Vince Carter is a Jersey Guy. It has nothing to do with home ownership “ any carpetbagger can buy a house. He has become embraced by the Candlewyck Diner (just off Rt. 17, on the East Rutherford/Carlstadt border), which has honored his frequent visits by naming a wrap for him. Grilled chicken, we™re told. Try not to share that last bit of information with sarcastic Ontarians.

The Nets want you to know that Rihanna will perform at halftime of the opener next Wednesday (the opener, Bucks), and then Amerie on the following Saturday (Bulls). If we knew anything about either person — including gender — we™d say more. Full disclosure: What we know about modern music and popular culture can fit inside the average thimble, so if you have something educational to share along those lines, take your best shot.

(Amerie. Presumably a girl, though as the millions of Juwana Mann fans can attest, it never hurts to double check).