Editor’s Note: The modern era of the NBA is generally accepted to have begun with the 1979-80 season, the advent of the 3-point line in the NBA. The lists to follow—one for each of the NBA’s 30 teams—will only consider seasons since 1979-80. We continue the series today with the best of the New Jersey/Brooklyn Nets.
The Brooklyn Nets have always been in and around the New York area, jumping back and forth across the Hudson a couple of different times.
The Nets began as one of the founding teams in the old American Basketball Association, the New Jersey Americans, in 1967-68. But after one year as the Americans, the franchise changed its name to the New York Nets and moved to Long Island, eventually moving into the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale.
The Nets made the playoffs the ABA’s final seven seasons, reaching the Finals three times and winning championships in 1974 and 1976.
They were one of four ABA teams to enter the NBA as part of a merger deal in 1976, but after one terrible season in Uniondale, the Nets skipped across the river to Piscataway and rebranded themselves the New Jersey Nets in 1977.
Success in the NBA has been much more elusive for the Nets, who played in Piscataway, East Rutherford and Newark before moving to Brooklyn in 2012.
In 39 NBA seasons, the Nets have made the playoffs only 18 times, reaching the NBA Finals in back-to-back years in 2002 and 2003, where they lost to the Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs, respectively.
The 2003 Finals was the first time two former ABA teams played for an NBA title.
The best the Nets have done since joining the NBA was a 52-win season in 2001-02, although they were 58-26 in 1974-75 in the ABA.
The low-water mark came in 2009-10, when New Jersey was just 12-70, one of five seasons of 60 losses or more in franchise history.
The franchise has had 22 coaches, with the winningest of them being Kevin Loughery, who took over the Nets in their ABA heyday in 1973-74 and coached 35 games into the 1980-81 season, compiling an overall mark of 297-318. Lawrence Frank, who ran the team from 2004-10, is the only other coach with more than 200 wins, going 225-241.
Of the 20 general managers, Willis Reed from May 1990 through June 1996 is the longest-tenured. Current general manager Billy King has been on the job since May 2010, when he replaced Rod Thorn—who has had three separate stints as GM.
Here are the best players, by position, for the New Jersey/Brooklyn Nets in the modern era, beginning in 1979-80. Players had to have played 200 games for the franchise and averaged 25 minutes per game.