Assuming the Brooklyn Nets can stay healthy, they’ll certainly be one of the favorites to win the NBA title this summer, although the defending champion LA Lakers, who have had some injury issues of their own, may have something to say about that.
Led by the trio of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden, the Nets will certainly be a force to be reckoned with during the postseason as the franchise, which has moved back and forth from New York to Brooklyn over the years, looks to win its first-ever NBA championship. The Nets, who did win a couple of ABA titles back in the day, have made a couple of appearances in the NBA Finals but have yet to hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
The Nets have had various homes in New Jersey and New York
The Nets were founded in 1967 as the New Jersey Americans and were one of the charter franchises of the ABA. They played their first season in Teaneck, New Jersey, and had planned to move to Newark ahead of the 1968-1969 season but instead wound up in Long Island, where they played in various arenas over the years as the New York Nets.
In 1976, they were one of four ABA franchises to join the NBA and moved back to New Jersey ahead of the 1977-1978 season. They first played on the campus of Rutgers University, spending four seasons in New Brunswick, and moved into their new stadium in East Rutherford when it was completed in 1981.
After 35 years in the Garden State, the Nets moved back to New York in 2012, this time setting up shop in Brooklyn.
The franchise won two ABA titles
It took a few years for the Nets to become a threat in the ABA but once they did, they became the most dominant team in the league, making three appearances in the ABA Finals in five seasons.
Two years after trading for superstar Rick Barry, the Nets made their first ABA Finals appearance in 1972, losing to the Pacers in six games, at which point Barry left the team. The Nets lost in the first round of the postseason the following year but made the biggest move in franchise history by acquiring Julius Erving, who promptly won ABA MVP and led the team back to the Finals, where they easily defeated the Utah Stars in five games with “Dr. J.” earning ABA Playoffs MVP honors.
Erving again won ABA MVP in 1975 but the Nets were ousted in the first round of the playoffs by St. Louis. But in 1976, Erving, who won his third straight MVP, led the Nets to a second ABA title in three seasons as they knocked off the Denver Nuggets in six games.
The Nets made back-to-back appearances in the NBA Finals in the early 2000s but lost both
In the summer of 2001, following a season in which the Nets had a sub-.500 record for the sixth time in seven years, finishing 26-56, the team traded for future Hall of Famer Jason Kidd, who led the team to a 52-30 record, their best mark since joining the NBA.
The top seed in the Eastern Conference for the 2002 playoffs, the Nets knocked off the Pacers, Hornets, and Celtics to earn their first-ever trip to the NBA Finals. However, they were no match for Shaq and Kobe’s Lakers, who finished off their three-peat with a four-game sweep.
The Nets returned to the Finals the following year, losing just twice in the first three rounds of the postseason, but were again defeated in the title series, this time by Tim Duncan’s San Antonio Spurs in six games.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference