The New Jersey Nets began their existence in the American Basketball Association (ABA) as the New Jersey Americans. They only spent one season (1967-68) under that name before becoming the New York Nets. The Nets moved to New Jersey in 1977, after they joined the NBA as part of the merger.
The Nets now play their home games at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey, but they are slated to move to Brooklyn, New York, in 2011.
The Nets’ head coach is Lawrence Frank. Rap mogul Jay-Z is a member of the ownership group.
As the New Jersey Americans, the team failed to make the playoffs. However, they began making the ABA playoffs by their second season as the New York Nets. Led by Rick Barry, they made it to the ABA Finals in 1972, but lost.
In 1973, the Nets acquired forward Julius Erving from the Virginia Squires. Erving, nicknamed “Dr. J,” was a high-flying, above-the-rim basketball artist who helped the Nets win games and gave the team — and the league — a certain cache. The NBA had more teams, and more money, but the ABA had “The Doctor.”
Erving led the Nets to two ABA titles in three years, including the last title in the history of the defunct league.
NBA Finals Appearances
While the Nets made three ABA Finals appearances, winning the title twice, they are still looking for their first NBA title. The closest they have come are the two Finals appearances they made in 2002 and 2003.
In 2001, the Nets traded point guard Stephon Marbury to the Phoenix Suns for Jason Kidd. Kidd, a perennial league leader in assists and one of the league’s best defensive point guards, immediately changed the team chemistry. The Nets finished 52-30 and beat Indiana, Charlotte (Hornets, not Bobcats) and Boston en route to the Finals, where they faced the L.A. Lakers. They were no match for Shaq, Kobe and company, however, and were swept in four games.
The Kidd-led Nets proved the 2001-02 season was no fluke, winning 49 games the following season and getting to the Finals again, this time facing the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs beat the Nets, four games to two.
Since 2003, the Nets have yet to get past the Eastern Conference semifinals.
The most significant thing to happen to the Nets in 2007-08 was the trading of Jason Kidd to the team that drafted him, the Dallas Mavericks. In return, the Nets got speedy point guard Devin Harris, gaining youth and quickness but giving away rebounding, passing, and savvy veteran leadership. The team went 34-48, failing to make the playoffs for the first time since 2001 (the season before the Kidd acquisition).
The Nets will begin 2008-09 with a wholly different look from the start of last season. Harris replaces the departed Kidd. Richard Jefferson was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks for Yi Jianlian. The Nets picked Stanford big man Brook Lopez with the 10th pick in the 2008 draft, and drafted Memphis shooting guard Chris Douglas-Roberts in the second round. Lawrence Frank will have to get these players on the same page in a hurry if the Nets wish to leave the state of New Jersey on a winning note.
Nate Archibald, Rick Barry, Derrick Coleman, Julius Erving, Jason Kidd, Buck Williams
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