The Brooklyn Nets have been around the Tri-State area since 1967 dating back to the early American Basketball Association days when they were the New York Nets and the New York Americans. The team was carried over during the NBA-ABA merger and changed to the New Jersey Nets in 1977 bringing two ABA championships with them. Since the merger, the Nets have only made the NBA Finals twice and have not made the playoffs since 2007. The team has not been doing well over the past five years recording record lows in wins and record highs in losses. However, it is not the time to dwell on that.
The Nets have moved back to New York City, to Brooklyn and are looking to give itself a new image. Led by Deron Williams, the team has made a lot of acquisitions through trade and free agents and are looking to make themselves contenders in the Eastern Conference this year. Right now, we celebrate those who have gotten the Nets to this point. The top five Nets of all-time. Here is my list:
5). Rick Barry (1970-72)
Rick Barry joined the Nets in 1970 after spending a few seasons with the San Francisco Warriors and a season with the Oakland Oaks and Washington Capitols. With the Nets, Barry spent his two seasons with the Nets averaging over 30 points per game as well as over 4.5 assists per game. Barry’s career points per game average with the Nets was 30.6 which is the most in the franchise’s history and the most in ABA history. Barry also appeared in two ABA all-star games with the Nets but did not win a championship. He is not the most well-known Net but deserves a spot on the top 5 Nets of all-time.
4). Drazen Petrovic (1990-93)
When you talk about which basketball stars put European players on the map, you might first name Dirk Nowitzki, Tony Parker or Manu Ginobili. However, anyway you look at it Drazen Petrovic‘s short life and career gets overlooked when you talk about European basketball. Petrovic was drafted by the Portland Trail Blazers in 1986 in the third round from Croatia. He was traded to the Nets in 1991 and quickly made his mark. He immersed himself with the young talent the Nets had in 1991 and by 1992 he was already seeing increased playing time and increased averages. In the 1991-1992 brought 20.6 points and 3.1 assists per game. He did not miss a single game and quickly became a team leader and the team MVP. In the 1992-93 season he was named to the All-NBA third team but did not receive an invitation to the all-star game to much surprise. Then in 1993, while his Croatian team was in Poland playing a qualifying game in the 1993 Eurobasket, Petrovic and his girlfriend were driving on the Autobahn 9 in Germany when their car was struck by a semi-truck. Petrovic was killed in the passenger seat. The Nets retired his No. 3 in November of 1993 and since 1994, the MVP of the McDonalds All-American Basketball Game receives the Drazen Petrovic Award. It was a life cut short by tragedy and even though he never reached his full potential, Petrovic was a rising star. Petrovic was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002.
3). Jason Kidd (2001-08)
Jason Kidd was traded from the Phoenix Suns, along with Chris Dudley, to the Nets for Stephon Marbury, Johnny Newman and Soumalia Samake in 2001. Kidd immediately made an impact with the team as his assists and points total increased with help from Kenyon Martin and Richard Jefferson. Kidd and the Nets went to the playoffs in six of Kidd’s six and a half years with the team before he was traded to the Dallas Mavericks. The Nets were in the NBA Finals twice but lost both times to the dominance of the San Antonio Spurs and the Los Angeles Lakers. Kidd holds career records in assists, steals, three-point field goals/attempts, and is fourth in points and fifth in total rebounds. Kidd is one of the greatest point guards to ever play the game and it is a shame he did not win a championship while in a Nets’ uniform.
2). Buck Williams (1981-1989)
One of the greatest Nets of all-time to really never get mentioned is Buck Williams. Williams started out with the Nets getting drafted out of Maryland in 1981 and winning the NBA Rookie of the Year award in that year. Williams dominated playing time as it seemed he would never miss a single game. In his first six seasons with the Nets he only missed one game, which makes him the all-time leader for games played as a Net with 635 games under his belt. In his career with the team, Williams scored 10,440 points, the most all-time in the franchise. In eight seasons, he averaged over 15 points per game seven times. Sadly, Williams’ career with the Nets ended in 1989 with a trade to the Portland Trail Blazers. The Nets acquired Sam Bowie and a first round pick who turned out to be Mookie Blaylock.
1). Julius Erving (1973-76)
Every list of the “top-something” needs a doctor and who better than Dr. J to complete the list?. Julius Erving played with the Nets from 1973-76 in the old ABA days, right after Barry left. Erving would be the key component in both Nets’ ABA titles in 1974 and 1976. Erving is also known for establishing the slam dunk contest which is now an All-Star Game event that everyone, including fans, players and coaches, looks forward to. Erving made his most notable dunk from the foul line which was then pulled off by none other than Michael Jordan. Dr. J is a three-time ABA MVP as well as being on the All-ABA team in every single year he was with the Nets. Erving’s 26.2 points per game with the Nets is second most all-time in franchise history and ABA history only to Barry. Erving and the Nets parted ways in 1976 when his contract was sold to the Philadelphia 76ers.
Who is on your list of Top 5 Nets of All-Time? Don’t agree with mine or want to make a comment, then post away. The subject is always up for debate.
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