10. BERNARD KING
Forward, 1977-79, 1992-93
A year after the debacle of the Dr. J sale, when the team fled Long Island for Rutgers, King was the star that made the Nets worth watching. He averaged 24.2 and 21.6 points in his first two seasons, gave them a foothold in the NBA and led them into their first NBA playoff in 1978-79. Even though he’s better known as a Knick, King has been a big advocate of the Nets’ move to Brooklyn, the home borough for him and his brother Albert, another Nets alumnus.
Shooting guard, 2004-09
A three-time all-star and 20-plus points per game scorer in 4½ seasons after he was acquired from the Raptors, Carter averaged 29.6 points in the 2006 playoffs. He was the first Net to score more than 2,000 points in a season (2006-07), once had a triple-double that included 46 points. The only perceived drawback was that his performances didn?t lift the team back to the Finals. Then again, the year after the Nets traded him, they went 12-70.
8. DERRICK COLEMAN
The chaos that enveloped the Nets in the early 1990s obscured the statistics that Coleman produced — five seasons of averaging a solid double-double. The former No. 1 overall pick was near or better than 20 points a game and 10 rebounds a game each time as a Net. Still, his performance was overshadowed by a franchise malaise that once provoked Coleman to utter his most famous disdainful line, “Whoop-de-damn-do.”
7. RICHARD JEFFERSON
In this case, longevity does matter. Jefferson was an outstanding all-around player for the Nets in seven seasons, twice averaging more than 22 points and not once after his rookie season averaging fewer than 15.5. With him as an important part of the mix, the Nets reached the playoffs six times and the Finals twice.
6. BILL MELCHIONNI
His No. 25 jersey was retired for a reason. Melchionni gave the Nets credibility when he joined them in 1969, having learned as a member of the 1966-67 Sixers, sometimes considered the best pro team ever. He was the ABA’s top assist man as the Nets reached the 1972 Finals, was a reserve on the 1974 championship team and a player/assistant coach on the 1976 title team. Later was the general manager who put the franchise back on its feet after Erving was sold to Philadelphia.
5. JOHN WILLIAMSON
Guard, 1973-77, 1978-80
“Super John” was the star of the last ABA game, scoring 16 fourth-quarter points as the Nets rallied from a 22-point deficit and won the championship over the Denver Nuggets. He was traded and reacquired, and was the only one who starred for the Nets both on Long Island and in New Jersey, in the ABA and NBA.
4. BUCK WILLIAMS
When he was the Rookie of the Year in 1981-82, the Nets won 20 more games than they had in the previous season. He averaged 15.5 points and 12.3 rebounds that season and was the team’s heart and soul for seven more seasons, many of them tumultuous ones for the franchise that deprived him of a decent supporting cast. He is the franchise’s career leader in many categories, including games, minutes, points and rebounds.
3. JASON KIDD
The Nets were somewhere between ?star-crossed? and ?laughingstock? from the time they joined the NBA in 1976 until they acquired Kidd in a 2001 steal for Stephon Marbury. Only once during his run did he average as much as 18.7 points, but his impact went way beyond statistics. He lifted the entire franchise and finally turned it into a winner, twice bringing the Nets to the NBA Finals.
2. RICK BARRY
One of the 50 greatest players in NBA history, Barry put the ABA’s Nets on the map in his brief stay. He has the best points per game average (30.5) in franchise history and quite possibly is the biggest reason why they became a permanent part of the New York sports scene. Barry attracted desperately needed major media attention when he averaged 31.5 points, led the team to the 1972 ABA Finals, and appeared as a weekend sports anchor on Eyewitness News.
1. JULIUS ERVING
Even the millions who saw that nice, distinguished, graceful Hall of Famer with the Sixers have no idea how great the real Dr. J was with the Nets. In two ABA title seasons, he made soaring plays that no one saw before ? and many people still haven?t seen because there was no national TV. Plus, he did it while carrying an entire league. He did it with flair and joy that even Michael Jordan and LeBron James didn?t have.