While they’ve changed leagues, color schemes, and zip codes more than once, the Brooklyn Nets have always been able to hang around, thanks to electric, otherworldly play from some of the game’s brightest stars. Whether it was the high-flying feats performed by Julius Erving in the American Basketball Association or the roundball excellence whipped up by Jason Kidd in the mid-2000s, fans have come to learn that the Nets deliver the goods whenever they step on the court.
Originally known as the New Jersey Americans, the franchise was a founding member of the upstart ABA and began play in the fall of 1967. Six years later and now called the New York Nets, the organization acquired Erving and saw their popularity soar. During the ‘73-74 campaign, “Dr. J” guided the club to 55 wins and its first championship, while also leading the league in scoring and being named its most valuable player. The NBA may have been viewed as the superior federation, but Erving was hailed as hands-down the best player on the planet. He’d nab MVP honors in each of the following two seasons and propel the Nets to another crown in ‘76 before the league disbanded. However, the team would continue to live on as they were absorbed into the NBA, along with three other organizations.
After spending the ‘76-77 season in New York, the Nets moved across the river and called New Jersey home once again. In ‘81, the franchise selected big man Charles “Buck” Williams with the third pick in the NBA Draft, and in doing so, obtained a headline act. Williams’ game wasn’t necessarily flashy, but it’s hard to argue with the results. Over the course of eight seasons with the Nets, “Buck” took the club to the playoffs on five different occasions and was named to three All-Star teams. One of only a select few to score more than 16,000 career points and collect more than 13,000 rebounds, Williams was honored by the Nets in 1999 when they retired his #52.
In the new millennium, the franchise would reach even greater heights. Led by perennial All-Star Jason Kidd, the club won the Eastern Conference title in both ‘02 and ‘03 to book back-to-back trips to the NBA Finals. Subsequent playoff appearances would occur in each of the four following seasons as the Nets had emerged as one of the strongest teams in the Atlantic Division. However, the winds of change were stirring, and at the end of the 2011-12 campaign, the organization closed up shop and relocated to Brooklyn.
These days, the Nets wear intimidating black uniforms (as opposed to the classic red, white and blue outfits they sported in Jersey) while playing in front of sold-out crowds at the Barclays Center. The state-of-the-art arena opened in September 2012 with a string of eight concerts by internationally renowned recording artist Jay Z, who served as a partial owner of the Nets until 2013. They may rock a new look, but expectations for the club haven’t diminished in the slightest.