With the Nets‘ move to the gigantic market of Brooklyn last season, things began to take a turn for the best after numerous seasons of disappointment and constant failure. This off-season, basketball in New York City‘s most-populous borough became even more exciting as the Nets’ management traded for superstars Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, and signed Russian sixth-man Andrei Kirilenko. The Nets’ projected starting line-up is constructed of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Pierce, Garnett, and Brook Lopez with a bench consisting of Kirilenko, Reggie Evans, and Andray Blatche. Solid, huh? Every player in the rumored starting line-up has the potential to explode for twenty points or more on any given night. Fuck it, the whole line-up could possibly make the Eastern Conference All-Star team next season. With the combination of an all-star roster, a “state of the art” arena, a cross-town rivalry with the Knicks, and a billionaire owner (Mikhail Prokhorov), the Nets are bound to make some serious noise in the NBA for years to come.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t always the case as Nets’ legacy has continuously been marred with decades of horrendous play, the swampy location of their former playing grounds (Continental Airlines Area/Izod Center), and habitual Eastern Conference bottom-feeding. After winning two championships in the 1970’s (New York Nets/ABA) through the play of legendary guard-forward Julius “Dr. J” Erving, the Nets were known around the association during the late 80’s and 90’s for being a sub-pro team that demanded little respect. Occasionally the team would make the playoffs but would be ousted after the first round due to far superior competition. Luckily, when I first started watching televised basketball the Nets were in their glory years as they were captained by future Hall-of-Fame guard and current head coach Jason Kidd. The New Jersey Nets of the early-2000’s were perennial playoff contenders as they made it to back-to-back NBA Finals in 2002 and 2003. Watching the fastbreak-heavy offense of the Kidd-helmed Nets is definitely one of my favorite memories of my young life. However, after the trading of Jason Kidd and other major players, the Nets suffered through a difficult rebuilding stage that included multiple head coach firings, embarrassing seasons (12-70 during the 2009-2010 season), and a huge fail during 2010’s historic summer of free agents. I remember during the late-2000’s you could’ve netted a ticket for a penny, the marketing team was practically begging for people to fill the arena’s seats.
Through all the turmoil, I still ride for beloved my Nets and in their honor, American Beau has compiled a list of the Five Greatest Nets of…ALL TIME!!! *Kanye West voice*
5) Richard Jefferson
Net Career: 2001-2008
Net Highlights: A rare long-tenured Net, he actually wanted to remain a long-life Net but former majority owner Bruce Ratner (side-eyed emoji) traded him to Milwaukee. Jefferson was a slasher, a lethal mid-range shooter, and a legitimate scoring small forward. He always played the third option in the Nets’ offense (Kidd-Martin-Jefferson & Carter-Kidd-Jefferson). Jefferson recorded a career-high 22.6 ppg in his 2007-08 season with the Nets.
4) Vince Carter
Net Career: 2004-09
Net Highlights: V-C-3!!! *Revs up the engine* By far the most explosive player in Nets history. His tenure didn’t result in much playoff success but many Sports Center highlights were created thanks to V.C. Carter is currently in the top 10 of 19 different all-time Nets statistical categories, including points, points per game (1st all-time of NBA Nets), defensive rebounds, assists, turnover rate, 3-point field goals, offensive rating, player efficiency rating, and win shares.
3) Buck Williams
Net Career: 1981-88
Net Highlights: Another rare long-tenured Net, he was a bright spot during the Nets’ mediocre years during the 80’s. Williams was known for his rebounding and for being a premier power forward. Williams is the Nets’ all-time leader in games, minutes, field goals (made & attempted), free throws (made & attempted), rebounds (offensive, defensive & total) & points. His #52 jersey is retired by the Nets organization.
2) Julius “Dr. J” Erving
Net Career: 1973-76
Net Highlights: Led the Nets to two championships (1974 & 76) during their ABA years. 3x ABA MVP recipient (1974-76), During the ABA’s 1976 season, Erving finished in the top 10 in points per game, rebounds per game, assists per game, steals per game, blocks per game, free throw percentage, free throws made, free throws attempted, three-point field goal percentage and three-point field goals made. His #32 jersey is retired by the Nets organization.
1) JASON KIDD
Net Career: 2001-08
Net Highlights: Captain of the Nets’ fastbreak-oriented offense of the early 2000’s and led the team to two back-to-back trips to the NBA Finals (2002 & 2003). Turned the Nets into legitimate title contenders after being the laughing stocks of the league. Triple-double king. Greatest Net of all-time. Current Nets head coach.
Honorable Mentions: Rick Barry, Kenyon Martin, Kerry Kittles, John Williamson, Bill Melchionni, Drazen Petrovic, & Derrick Coleman