The New Jersey Nets Best Players of the Meadowlands Era
The New Jersey Nets just played their last game at the Izod Center after 29 years, ending the era with a loss. It seems fitting given that there were a lot of losing during those 29 years. However, there were some really good players too.
So, here is a list of some of the best players to play for the Nets during the Meadowlands era.
Center: Darryl Dawkins
There were very few quality centers who played for the Nets; It's probably why they so rarely won. However, for a brief period, the Nets had one of the most entertaining players to ever play in the NBA: Chocolate Thunder was a physical beast down low.
Dawkins never put up big numbers, but he was a tough matchup. He fouled too much and did not always play hard, but he wore down opponents with his size and his hard fouls.
Perhaps most importantly, he was a big reason why the Nets defeated the defending champion 76ers in the 1984 playoffs.
Power Forward: Buck Williams
Until Jason Kidd came along, Buck was the greatest Net of the Meadowlands Era.
In his first season with the Nets, he averaged 15.5 points and led the team with 12.3 rebounds per game, helping New Jersey win 20 more games than the previous year and earning the 1982 Rookie of the Year. He was the best player on the Nets for most of the 1980s.
Buck epitomized class and hard work. When the Nets finally traded him, most Nets fans were happy that he was sent to Portland where he would have a chance to win a title.
The Nets rightly retired his No. 52 in April 1999.
Small Forward: Richard Jefferson
Where the Nets were once home to Julius Erving and Bernard King, by the time the Nets got to the Meadowlands they were too often plagued by the likes of Chris Morris and Reggie Williams.
Even the decent players, such as Albert King and Keith Van Horn, were mostly disappointments. So, the best small forward of the last 29 years goes to Richard Jefferson. He was a key component of the Nets teams that went to the Finals twice.
By the end of his Nets career, he had become an accomplished scorer. He excelled in transition and learned to create his own shot. The Nets have yet to replace his skills since they traded him to the Bucks.
Shooting Guard: Vince Carter
Shooting guard may have been the toughest choice. There was the legendary Drazen Pertrovic, but his career was tragically cut short.
Otis Birdsong was a key member of the successful teams from the 1980s.
Kerry Kittles was vital to the Nets teams that made the Finals. However, for pure basketball quality, showmanship and entertainment value, it had to be Vince Carter.
The Nets acquired Vince in a steal of a deal from the Raptors and he immediately became a vital player to the Nets. After joining the Nets, Carter averaged 27.5 points per game for the rest of the 2004-5 season.
In his first three seasons with the Nets he played a key role in the Nets making the playoffs. They got to the second round in both 2006 and 2007.
Perhaps the best example of his value to the Nets is the team's record in 2008-9 season compared to their record in 2009-10.
With Carter as the team captain, the Nets won 34 games, Devin Harris made the All-Star team and Brook Lopez was a promising rookie.
Without Vince, the Nets have won 12 games going into their final game of the year and Devin Harris might be on the trading block. Essentially, Vince was worth over 20 wins to the team. That is a great player.
Point Guard: Jason Kidd
There is no doubt that Jason Kidd is the greatest Net since Julius Erving. Kidd immediately transformed the Nets from a laughingstock to a title contender.
The Nets had never won more than one playoff series before his arrival, and went to two NBA finals because of him. The Nets probably would have made a third if he did not get hurt during the Pistons series the year the Pistons won (2004).
While it was evident that he wanted out of New Jersey, he was the primary player responsible for the best Nets basketball of the Meadowlands Era.