Brooklyn Nets: 25 Best Players To Play For The Nets

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The Brooklyn Nets trace their heritage to the old ABA’s New Jersey Americans and New York Nets, with a 2nd stop in Jersey. Who are their 25 best players?

Nov 2, 2015; Brooklyn, NY, USA; General view of the opening tip-off between the Brooklyn Nets and the Milwaukee Bucks during the first quarter at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Eight arenas, four names, two leagues—thus is the long and winding road of the franchise now known as the Brooklyn Nets.

Trucking magnate Arthur Brown began the ride when he was awarded a franchise in the upstart American Basketball Association in 1967.

Originally destined for New York, the New Jersey Americans fled across the Hudson River when the New York Knicks threatened legal action, playing their first season in the Teaneck Armory.

The new team averaged less than 1,000 fans a game and had to forfeit a tiebreaker game for the East Division’s last playoff spot because the Armory was unplayable after a circus had been there.

Brown also wanted to change the name of the team, unhappy that the New York papers—when they did actually remember the team—often shortened the nickname to “Amerks” in headlines, something Brown thought “looked Communist,” according to Terry Pluto’s narrative history of the ABA, entitled “Loose Balls.”

The team moved to Long Island and the Long Island Arena in 1968, rechristened the New York Nets, and Brown sold the team to Roy Boe.

The Nets moved to their third arena in three years when they opted to play their games at Island Garden in West Hempstead, spending three seasons there before moving into the new Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale in 1972.

After a 44-40 regular season, the Nets did reach the ABA Finals under coach Lou Carnesecca in 1972, losing to the Indiana Pacers in six games.

The franchise enjoyed its greatest success at Nassau Coliseum, winning ABA titles in 1974 and 1976 before joining the NBA as part of the 1976 merger between the leagues.

The titles were both under coach Kevin Loughery, as New York beat the Utah Stars in five games in 1974 and knocked off the Denver Nuggets in six games in 1976.

One year on Long Island was it for Boe, though, who moved the team back to New Jersey—playing at Rutgers Athletic Center for four seasons. He sold the team in 1978 to a group led by Alan Cohen and Joseph Taub that became known as the “Secaucus Seven.”

The Nets moved into the new Brendan Byrne Arena in 1981 (later known as Continental Airlines Arena and the Izod Center) and remained there through the 2009-10 season.

The franchise was sold in 1998 to a group of local real estate developers headed by Raymond Chambers and Lewis Katz, but after failing to get a new arena built in Newark, the group sold the team to Bruce Ratner in 2004.

New Jersey reached the NBA Finals in back-to-back seasons under coach Byron Scott in 2002 and 2003, being swept by the Los Angeles Lakers in 2002 and losing in six games to the San Antonio Spurs in 2003.

Ratner sold the team to Mikhail Prokhorov in 2009 and, as irony would have it, the Nets played their final two seasons in New Jersey at … a new arena in Newark, the Prudential Center, before leaving for Brooklyn in 2012.

The club made the postseason in seven of its nine seasons in the ABA, but has just 19 postseason bids in 40 NBA campaigns. A streak of three straight playoff berths was snapped with their 21-61 collapse in 2015-16.

The franchise put together a 374-370 record in the ABA and is 1,360-1,871 since joining the NBA, an overall winning percentage of .436 that places it 27th among the current 30 franchises.

The team has never enjoyed a 60-win season. The franchise record for victories was set in 1974-75 in the ABA, when the Nets were 58-26. The best record the team has mustered in the NBA was in 2001-02, when New Jersey was 52-30.

The 2009-10 Nets set the low-water mark for the club, going 12-70, and there have been six 60-loss seasons in all. The Nets were 17-61 in 1968-69, 22-60 in their NBA debut in 1976-77, 19-63 in 1987-88 and 17-65 in 1989-90 and added another 60-loss ledger in 2015-16.

There have been 18 de facto general managers in club history, including three stints by Rod Thorn and two each by Boe and Bob MacKinnon.

The longest serving GM was Willis Reed, who was in the chair from May 1990 until June 1996. Billy King, hired in July 2010 and fired in January 2016, is the only other person to hold the job at least five years.

Ah, yes, you can certainly spell “stability” without “Nets.”

Thorn, in 2001-02, was the only Nets GM to be named NBA Executive of the Year.

Current general manager Sean Marks was hired Feb. 18, 2016. The first NBA player from New Zealand, Marks had been assistant GM for the Spurs prior to his appointment in Brooklyn.

The Nets have also blown through 24 coaches in 4seasons, with Loughery the top winner of the bunch. He was 297-318 from 1973-80 and was 21-13 in the playoffs, leading the Nets to both of their ABA titles.

Lawrence Frank, who was 225-241 overall and 18-20 in the postseason, is the only other 200-game winner in team history. He coached in New Jersey from 2004-09.

The team’s 25th coach will debut this season as former Atlanta Hawks assistant Kenny Atkinson was hired April 17, 2016, to replace interim coach Tony Brown, who posted an 11-34 mark after replacing Lionel Hollins last season.

The franchise has never had a Coach of the Year winner.

The club has drafted No. 1 overall twice—taking Syracuse’s Derrick Coleman in 1990 and selecting Kenyon Martin of Cincinnati in 2000.

Since joining the NBA, the team has chosen second once, third three times and fourth once, never landing at No. 5.

Here are the 25 best players in the history of the New Jersey Americans and the New York/New Jersey/Brooklyn Nets. Players had to have appeared in 150 games and averaged a minimum of 20 minutes per game for the team to qualify for this list.

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