Founded in 1967, the Brooklyn Nets were originally known as the New Jersey Americans. A 1968-69 season relocation saw them adopt the moniker New York Nets. Despite initial struggles, reaching ABA finals in 1971-72 but not finishing above third place in their first six seasons, a change was on the horizon.
The Julius Erving Period
1973 witnessed a turning point. The acquisition of superstar forward Julius Erving ushered in a new era. A stunning 25-win improvement marked Erving’s debut year, culminating in the Nets clinching the ABA title. Yet another championship was added to the tally in 1975-76 under Erving’s leadership. But transitioning to the NBA post the ABA-NBA merger in 1976 wasn’t smooth. An $8 million fee was required to enter the league, leading to the sale of Erving to the Philadelphia 76ers. The subsequent seasons were marked by a decline in fortunes and five consecutive losing streaks.
Return to New Jersey and Playoff Ventures
1977 saw the team’s return to New Jersey. By 1981, they found a new home in the Meadowlands, enlisted Larry Brown as head coach, and welcomed power forward Buck Williams. Williams’ exceptional skills drove the Nets to their first NBA-winning season in 1981-82. This was followed by playoff qualifications for the next four years, including a memorable win against reigning NBA champions Philadelphia 76ers in 1984. However, the promising roster featuring Kenny Anderson, Dražen Petrović, and Derrick Coleman faced its share of challenges. The tragic passing of Petrović in 1993 and inconsistent performances resulted in major roster changes by 1995-96.
The Jason Kidd Influence
Entering the 2000s with modest achievements, the Nets witnessed a revival with the arrival of point guard Jason Kidd in 2001. Kidd’s contribution was palpable, leading the team to two NBA finals in 2001-02 and 2002-03. Despite these successes, the Nets experienced a record low in the 2009-10 season with a 12–70 finish.
2012 marked another transformative phase. Under the ownership of figures like Mikhail Prokhorov and Jay-Z, the team relocated to Brooklyn. A renewed spirit led to a 49–33 record in 2012-13. Subsequent trades brought in All-Star veterans Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, with Kidd as the head coach. An unforgettable moment from the 2013-14 season was the signing of Jason Collins, the first openly gay athlete in major North American team sports. The season concluded with a playoff berth. Subsequent years saw the exits of Pierce and Garnett, leading to a temporary decline in performance.
Rebuilding and Recent Triumphs
Despite setbacks from trades in the early 2010s, the Nets showcased resilience. A young and competitive roster saw them return to the playoffs in 2018-19.
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