The Nets will leave New Jersey, closing out the team’s 36-year stay in the land across the Hudson, and head for Brooklyn, N.Y. and an intriguing future.
I covered the Nets for several seasons in the early 80s, starting in 1981, the team’s first season at the Meadowlands (They now play in Corey Booker’s Neighborhood, Newark).
Interestingly–and to me, fittingly–the franchise ends its Joisey run with the Philadelphia 76ers, the team against whom the Nets had their greatest triumph. At the end of the 1983-84 season, the Nets upset the defending champion 76ers in the first round of the playoffs, winning a deciding Game 5 (it was 3 of 5 then) after Doctor J had promised a Game 5 win, saying, “You can mail in the stats.”
That team was led by Buck Williams, Mike Gminski, Otis Birdsong and coached by Stan Albeck. Today, the nostalgic folks at NJ.com are allowing readers to pick their all-time New Jersey Nets team (meaning only players who played with the franchise while it was in the state; hence, no Doctor J.
Buck Williams (the foundation, maybe my all-time great NJ Net)
Jason Kidd (at his peak)
Bernard King (imagine if they’d kept him)
Darrel Dawkins (he called me Big Scoop)
Jayson Williams (yep, him…this is about on-the-court)
I loved a few other guys, but eliminated them for various reasons–including the late great Drazen Petrovic (just didn’t play long enough), Deron Williams (not enough team success), Michael Ray Richarson (close), Suuuper John Williamson (close, as well) and Vince Carter (stellar dunker who never bought into team concept).
No surprise, Jayson Williams was not invited to tonight’s closing festivities. Understandable. Just last week, he was released from prison after serving his time in the death of chauffeur years ago and the ugly aftermath. It was just too soon to bring him back.