In their 35 year history, the New Jersey Nets franchise has had many ups and downs on and off the basketball court. The team is mostly remembered for its ineptitude and losing ways, and always lived in the shadow of the New York Knicks. However, there were some bright spots in the team's history that are worth recognizing. In this article, I will shine the light on the 5 most significant moments in the franchise's history.
Note: This article will only reflect on the team's New Jersey years, as the franchise has since moved to Brooklyn, NY.
1984 Playoff Series Win vs the 76ers
Since moving to New Jersey, the team had been to the NBA playoffs 3 times but didn't win a playoff series. However, the Nets' fortunes would change in 1984 against a Philadelphia 76ers team that featured Julius Erving and Moses Malone. The best-of-5 series began with the Nets winning the first 2 games in Philadelphia, but then losing the next 2 games in New Jersey. With the odds against them, the Nets went back to Philly and gave an inspired effort pulling out a 101-98 victory to clinch the series. This was not only their first NBA playoff series win, but it prevented the defending champion 76ers from repeating.
Early '90s Promise
Credit: blogs.thescore.comAfter several losing seasons (including finishing with the worst record in the NBA in 1989-1990), the Nets began to show some promise. It started with Derrick Coleman, who was drafted with the #1 overall pick and later became Rookie of the Year in 1991. In February of the same season, the Nets acquired Drazen Petrovic from the Portland Trail Blazers.
Credit: prosportsblogging.comPrior to the next season, Kenny Anderson was drafted with the #2 pick in the NBA Draft. This triumvirate, along with a good group of role players, helped the Nets make the playoffs for 3 straight seasons. Unfortunately, this group didn't fulfill their promise as they never made it out of the first round of the playoffs. In addition, injuries, contract squabbles, and the death of Petrovic in an auto accident kept this group from reaching their potential.
Hiring of Chuck Daly
Credit: www.nba.comOne of the most significant moments in New Jersey Nets history occurred in 1992. The team made a splash by hiring Hall of Fame coach Chuck Daly, who led the Detroit Pistons to 2 NBA Championships and coached the original Dream Team to a gold medal in Barcelona. His hiring brought credibility and an identity to the Nets. Under his guidance, the Nets made the playoffs in 1993 and 1994. In those 2 seasons, however, Daly also had internal struggles with the front office, and clashed with Derrick Coleman and Kenny Anderson. He grew frustrated and would eventually step down from his position after only 2 seasons.
Acquisition of Jason Kidd
The most significant moment in New Jersey Nets history was the acquisition of point guard Jason Kidd in 2001. He was acquired from the Phoenix Suns for Stephon Marbury, and had an immediate impact on the franchise. Kidd led the league in assists and triple-doubles in the 2001-2002 season, and led the team to their best record in franchise history at 52-30. He was a key contributor in the Nets winning their first Atlantic Division title, their first Eastern Conference championship, and making their first appearance in the NBA Finals. In Kidd's 6 1/2 years in New Jersey, the team enjoyed its best stretch in its NBA history making the playoffs 6 consecutive years, winning 4 division titles, 2 conference titles, and making 2 consecutive NBA Finals appearances.
2 NBA Finals Appearances
In 2002 and 2003, the Nets reached heights that hadn't been achieved in their NBA history. After stellar play during the season, the team found themselves in the NBA Finals in consecutive years. In 2002, the team matched up against the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers led by Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal. In a series seemingly pitting David against Goliath, the Nets were swept in 4 games.Credit: www.nba-live.com
In 2003, the Nets went up against the San Antonio Spurs led by Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. The matchup was the first time in NBA Finals history that 2 former ABA teams faced each other. Unlike the previous year, this series was a bit more competitive. The Nets split the first 2 games in San Antonio, but lost 2 of the next 3 in New Jersey. The Spurs would return home and eventually wrap up the series in 6 games, thus ending the Nets' second and final championship run.Credit: Noren Trotman/NBAE/Getty Images