2003 New Jersey Nets: Where Are They Now?

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2003 New Jersey Nets: Where Are They Now?
(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

The final buzzer sounded and the San Antonio Spurs flooded center court celebrating a victory against the New Jersey Nets.

 

While the celebrating takes place, the losing team fades into the locker rooms and also into basketball history. Some players still remain a part of the game, while others have taken different paths from retirement to accidents.

 

Here is what the last great New Jersey basketball has done since the Finals run and what they are doing now.

 

Brandon Armstrong

 

Armstrong was the youth of the 2003 Nets, holding a better future to those veterans like Kittles and Harris—but what happened to the potential?

 

He played one more season with the Nets where he averaged a career high 2.7 points per game before not being re-signed by the team. After a short preseason stint with the Golden State Warriors, he headed over to Italy to play for Roseto Basket, where Adrian Griffin had gone before getting back into the NBA.

 

After just one season in Italy, Armstrong decided to make a full-fledged effort to make the NBA, playing for the Dakota Wizards, Anaheim Arsenal, and Bakersfield Jam of the NBA's Development League.    

 

Armstrong played one more year overseas in Poland for SKK Kotwica Kolobrzeg before falling off the map.   

                                                                                                                    

Chris Childs

 

Childs only played 12 games for the Nets that season and retired after the Finals.

 

Though he won’t be remembered in New Jersey (even though he averaged a career high in points for them), New York will always have a special place for him. His defense was a great mix for a Knicks team that reached the Finals in 1999, and he continued to play well until the Nets signed him.

 

Jason Collins

 

Collins remained a key player for the Nets on the defensive side, playing five more seasons in New Jersey.

 

Not known for his scoring, Collins' punishment against bigger and better players turned him into what Jason Kidd called "a premier defender", and would only earn any gratitude after being traded from New Jersey.

 

Collins took over the starting duties during 2003 and held onto them until he was traded to the Memphis Grizzlies. He played one season there and then was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

 

During his time outside of New Jersey, Collins only played in 62 games, somewhat due to a partial rupture of his triceps tendon in his right shoulder, and also due to the young roster both teams had.

 

Collins is currently a free agent, looking to make a team before the season begins.

 

Lucious Harris

 

A key member of the 2003 run, Harris remained a Net for one year after the Finals run, ending a seven year relationship between the two.

 

His sixth man abilities earned him a contract from the Cleveland Cavaliers, where he was eventually released after playing one year with the young LeBron James.

 

While his numbers were never high and his play was never flashy, Harris was a consistent player that every team hopes to have year after year.

 

Harris is not retired, but also not playing either.

 

Richard Jefferson

 

Jefferson was one of the few Nets who became better after the series against the Spurs. At the ripe age of 22, Jefferson went from bench key to almost All-Star for the Nets, putting up a career-high 22.6 points per game in his last season as a Net.

 

He played seven seasons at the Izod Center before being the odd man out, as Nets chose to keep Vince Carter beside Devin Harris instead of him. He was sent to the Milwaukee Bucks, where after just a year, he was sent to the team that knocked the Nets out in 2003: the San Antonio Spurs.

 

Anthony Johnson

 

Johnson is one of the most travelled guys in the entire NBA, as he has found himself bouncing around teams. After 2003, this trend continued.

 

After the Finals, Johnson was signed by the Indiana Pacers, where he went on to torch the Nets in the playoffs, scoring 40 against Jason Kidd. 

 

In the 2006 offseason, Johnson was traded to the Dallas Mavericks. Just a few months later, Johnson was traded to the Atlanta Hawks for a second time. And then, just a year later, he was traded to the Sacramento Kings, which was also his second trip to California's capitol city.

 

Johnson decided to stick with the trend, as he signed with the Orlando Magic for a second stint as well and made it to the Finals in 2009, where his team fell short to the Los Angeles Lakers.

 

He and former Net Vince Carter will look to repeat what happened last year, but hope to end up on the winning side.

 

Jason Kidd

 

It started with two wins away from the Championship and ended with a headache—literaly.

 

Jason Kidd came and ended as one of the greatest Nets of all time, making basketball relevant again in New Jersey. After the Finals, he played five fabulous seasons before getting a headache.

 

While the Nets were slowly becoming bottom-feeders, Kidd sat out a game with a headache against the New York Knicks, and just a couple of months later, he was wearing blue and white again while the Nets had an interesting new point guard in their hands.

 

While it ended badly in New Jersey, he still has many fans there, as they root for him to finally capture his first ring and overcome the John Stockton comparisons. He will be doing that this year in Dallas as he re-signed with his original team at the age of 36.

 

Kerry Kittles

 

Kittles, much like Harris, was consistent for the Nets as he too only played one more season for them after the Finals.

 

He averaged 13.1 points per game before being traded to the Los Angeles Clippers in the first signs of the Nets' cost cutting era.

 

Kittles only saw 11 games in a Clippers uniform before having to retire due to pesky injuries. He then joined the Nets as a part time scout. Kittles is also a Merchant Banking Associate at Ledgemont Capital Group LLC, and is currently pursuing an MBA at Villanova University's School of Business.

 

Donny Marshall

 

Marshall might not have mattered too much to any wins or losses, as he only played in three total games in 2003 after receiving two 10-day contracts, which eventually led to them signing him for the season.

 

Marshall stopped getting offers on the court and began giving them, as he currently offers commentary on the Boston Celtics for Comcast SportsNet.

 

Kenyon Martin

 

Dollar signs pop up when many talk about Martin, as he is one of the top players in the league not creating top stats. That was different in 2003, as Martin and Kidd were arguably the two most entertaining teammates in the entire league.

 

Martin played one more season as a Net, where he made his first and only All-Star Game before he cashed in Jason Kidd’s hard work. Martin received an offer from current Nets general manager (who was the Denver Nuggets general manager at the time) which surpassed $90 million.

 

With the Nets cutting costs, he was traded to the Nuggets for first round picks that were used in the Vince Carter deal from Toronto.

 

While many still miss him in New Jersey, Martin has been sidelined with injury after injury as he finally played in 71 and 66 games in 2007-08 and 2008-09 respectively, and has never reached the potential many though he could grab from his New Jersey days.

 

Martin now is in a tight race against former team mates Kidd and Jefferson to be the best in the West, as Nuggets surprised everyone by making their first trip to the Western Conference Finals since 1985.

 

Dikembe Mutombo

 

Dikembe Mutombo Mpolondo Mukamba Jean-Jacques Wamutombo is one of the longest names ever in sports, but found himself in a short situation with the Nets.

 

Mutombo played in just 24 games in 2003 due to injuries, and he was considered finished by the organization who had just signed the 7'2'' giant to help the Nets' frontcourt problems. He was then bought out in the most expensive buyout in NBA history where he then signed with Nets' rival, the New York Knicks.

 

After a quick stint in New York, he was traded to the Chicago Bulls, who then quickly traded him to the Houston Rockets, where he regained his form and was a successful backup to Yao Ming.

 

Just last year, Mutombo tore his quadriceps tendon of his left knee and he called it a career, ending his long and successful journey.

 

Rodney Rogers

 

Rodgers, like most of this team, played one more season for the Nets before signing with the New Orleans Hornets and then being traded to the Philadelphia 76ers.

 

While his best days were before he signed with the Nets, Rodgers was key in many moments, even hitting a few game-winners.

 

Rodgers retired after playing a season for the Sixers and went to work for the City of Durham, Arizona as a heavy equipment operator, where he was promoted to supervisor in the spring of 2008.

 

Unfortunately, Rodgers suffered a near-fatal dirt bike accident that left him paralyzed from the shoulders down.

 

While the doctors didn`t give him much hope to ever walk again, Rodgers is currently trying to beat those odds as he has starting rehabbing, hoping to one day walk again.

 

Brian Scalabrine

 

If the Nets folded and a survey was taken of who would have been the first Net to win a championship, would you have guessed Brian Scalabrine?

 

Scalabrine played two more seasons with the Nets before signing with a young Celtics team that could barely make the playoffs. Just over a year into it, the roster was rebuilt and Scalabrine found himself on a winning team.

 

In 2008, he helped the Celtics win the championship, becoming the first and only player from the Nets 2003 roster to win a ring so far.

 

He still remains with the Celtics, but will have to fight to earn playing time, as the Celtics have signed Sheldon Williams and also brought back Glen Davis.

 

Byron Scott

 

To rise to the top, you must come from the bottom, and Scott was able to do it twice.

 

After failing to get the same chemistry as previous years, Scott was fired from the Nets organization, which left Lawrence Frank to take over. Just a few months later, Scott was coaching the New Orleans Hornets—led by Chris Paul.

 

Four years after taking over New Orleans, Scott was named the NBA Coach of the Year as he helped led the Hornets to a 56-26 record and their first playoff appearance in years.

 

Currently, Scott is still the head coach as the Hornets look to change things up with players instead of coaches as the West grows in talent. If he fails this year, it could be déjà vu all over again.

 

Tamar Slay

 

Though Slay was born in America, he seems to spend most of his time in Europe.

 

Slay was drafted by the Nets in 2002, where he played in just two seasons before being picked up by the new Charlotte Bobcats. After a year of new faces and facilities, he played his last game in the NBA…so far.

 

In 2005, Slay joined Israeli leading team Hapoel Jerusalem, but after an unstable season, he was released in late December 2006. He then headed back to America and signed with the Bakersfield Jam of the NBA Development League. Slay returned overseas with Pierrel Capo d'Orlando and also played with Air Avellino.

 

He is now hoping for better luck, as he recently signed with Carmatic Pistoia and still hopes at the age of 29 to make it back to the NBA.

 

Aaron Williams

 

One of the key bench players in both New Jersey runs, Williams lasted until Vince Carter became available and was sent packing to Toronto.

 

Williams then was traded to New Orleans and eventually ended up signing with the Clippers, where he faded away into basketball history.

 

While the era of Kidd was big, as he led the league in assists, Williams did his part to help the Nets leading the league in fouls.

 

Though he has not retired, he is 37 years old and hasn’t played in over a year, so things don’t look good for the former Xavier star.

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