New Jersey Nets

Sat, 07 Feb 2009 20:57

History of New Jersey Nets

Information about the NBA team New Jersey Nets.

The New Jersey Nets, a professional basketball team, plays in the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference in the National Basketball Association. This team is currently based in East Rutherford, New Jersey, and the team's home games are played at the Izod Center. There are plans, though, for the team to relocate to Brooklyn, New York City, but there are legal issues to attend to first.

New Jersey Nets: early years as part of the ABA (1967-1976)

The New Jersey Nets was founded in 1967. Back then, the team, owned by Arthur Brown, was a part of the American Basketball Association (ABA). Originally, this team was known as the New York Americans, and Brown wanted it to play at the 69th Regiment Armory on Manhattan's east side. Pressure from the New York Knicks, however, got the Armory to withdraw three months before the scheduled opening day.

It became difficult for Brown to find a venue in New York City. This was because some were already booked, and others had owners who didn't want to risk angering the New York Knicks by being hospitable to a rival team. The need for a venue led the team to settle for the Armory in Teaneck, New Jersey. The squad name was changed to New Jersey Americans, but the franchise name of the team was still New York Americans.

The Americans played relatively well during their first season, gaining a tie with the Kentucky Colonels for the Eastern Division's last playoff spot. Unfortunately, though, the Armory was booked solid, and the Americans were forced to find a last-minute venue. They settled for the Long Island Arena in Commack, New York, but were surprised to find that the venue was in total disarray, with a floor that had missing bolts and boards, and no basket supports or padding on the backboards. League commissioner George Mikan decided to forfeit the game to the Colonels after the Colonels refused to play. The team then chose to stay on Long Island, where it took on the name New York Nets.

New Jersey Nets: move to NBA and New Jersey (1976 to 1980)

During the summer of 1976, the ABA merged with the National Basketball League to form the National Basketball Association. Before their first NBA season, the Nets traded two of their draft picks to the Kansas City Kings in exchange for Nate Archibald. The team seemed ready to continue what they started in the ABA. To their surprise, though, the NBA asked them to pay $4.8 million to the Knicks because they invaded the Knicks' NBA territory. The new owner of the team, Roy Boe, had to sell Erving, one of the team's most valuable players, to the Philadelphia 76ers for $3 million. Without Erving, and with Archibald breaking his foot in January, the team finished the season with a record of 22-60, the worst record so far in the league. In February 1977, though, the Nets became the first NBA team to have a starting lineup composed of just left-handed players: Al Skinner, Dave Wohl, Kim Hughes, Bubbles Hawkins, and Tim Bassett.

New Jersey Nets: the 1980s

In 1981, the Nets moved into the Brendan Byrne Arena (which was renamed as the Continental Airlines Arena in 1996 and became known as the Izod Center in 2007). The team then performed fairly well, having experienced four consecutive winning seasons. During the 1982-83 season, under the coaching of Larry Brown, the Nets had their best season since they joined the NBA. During the last month of the season, though, Brown decided to accept the head coaching job offered to him by the University of Kansas. The Nets struggled because of the change and lost during the first round of playoffs to the New York Knicks.

During the 1983-84 season, the team got to win their first NBA playoff series. They defeated the 76ers during the first round of the 1984 playoffs before they lost to the Milwaukee Bucks in six games during the Eastern Conference semifinals.

New Jersey Nets: the 1990s

In the early 1990s, the Nets improved their game, due to the drafting of several young players such as Kenny Anderson and Derrick Coleman. Even though they lost during the 1991-92 season, the Nets still qualified for the playoffs. During these games, though, they lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers three games to one.

In 1992-93, the Nets had significant improvement under the lead of Petrovic, Anderson, and Coleman, and as well as former head coach Chuck Daly. Toward the end of the season, though, both Petrovic and Anderson suffered from injuries and the team ended up having a record of 1-10. The Nets finished the season having a record of 43-39. In the Eastern Conference, they were seeded sixth and had to face the Cavaliers during the first round. The optimism of the team dwindled when Petrovic died in an automobile accident in Germany.

Even though the team suffered from the demise of Petrovic, the Nets succeeded in winning 45 games in the 1993-94 season. During that season, Coleman and Anderson got to make their All-Star appearances. However, the Nets still lost to the New York Knicks during the first round of the NBA playoffs. After that, Daly resigned from his position as head coach and was replaced by Butch Beard.

The Nets continued to struggle for the rest of the decade. The team's image was poor because the members of the team such as Coleman, Anderson, Morris, Benjamin, and Schintzius were deemed as selfish. Management even considered renaming the team as "Fire Dragons" or "Swamp Dragons" in 1994 to save the team's image, but they rejected the idea later on. During the 1994-95 and 1995-96 seasons, the Nets got a record of 30-52.

During the 1995-96 season, Anderson and Coleman were traded and John Calipari took the place of Beard as head coach during the end of the season. During the 1996 NBA draft, the team selected Kerry Kittles, and halfway through the 1996-97 season, the team acquired Sam Cassell. In June 1997, the Nets had a major draft-day trade, acquiring Lucious Harris, Keith Van Horn, and two other players. Among all the players in the early 1990s, the only one that the Nets retained was Jayson Williams.  

New Jersey Nets: the 2000s

In 2000, the Nets got Rod Thorn as team president. He started making changes to the team, first by hiring Byron Scott as coach. New players were also acquired, including Kenyon Martin, Stephon Marbury, Richard Jefferson, Brandon Armstrong, Jason Collins, and Brian Scalabrine.

A day after the 2001 draft, Marbury and Newman were traded for Jason Kidd and Chris Dudley. The Nets also signed Todd MacCulloch, who was then considered as a rising center in NBA. That season was the best season of the Nets. They won their first Atlantic Division title, and were seeded first for the Eastern Conference. They played against Indiana during the 2002 NBA playoffs' first round.

The Nets made plenty of roster changes over the following years and are now trying to get their act together and bounce back from a disappointing 2007-08 season.