Brooklyn Nets: 10 best players from ABA era

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Brooklyn Nets, Julius Erving

UNIONDALE, NY – 1974: Julius Erving #32 of the New York Nets goes to the basket against the Indiana Pacers circa 1974 at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 1974 NBAE (Photo by Jim Cummins/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Brooklyn Nets came into existence in the upstart ABA in 1967 and played 9 seasons in that league. Here are the 10 best players from the ABA era.

The history books say the franchise that is now the Brooklyn Nets is rooted in an old American Basketball Association club that played its first season as the New Jersey Americans.

But the franchise was intended to be a New York entry when the ABA was launched in 1967. Arthur J. Brown bought into the new league with the express intent of playing in New York, according to an April 2012 report from NJ.com.

The team would play under the same name his semi-pro touring team had been known as — the New York Freighters. Brown was the founder of ABC Freight Forwarding Corp., a trucking company based in New York.

But pressure from the established New York Knicks in the NBA prevented the Freighters from hitting the road, with the only arena available to the new franchise being the Teaneck Armory across the river in New Jersey. Thus, the New Jersey Americans sputtered into existence.

The Americans lasted one season in Teaneck, missing the postseason when they were forced to forfeit a tiebreaker for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Division to the Kentucky Colonels.

The Teaneck Armory was booked for the date of the tiebreaker, so the Nets arranced to play at Long Island Arena in Commack, N.Y. The floor was unplayable — pieces of the floor were missing, they were short connecting bolts and there was no padding on the basket stanchions, according to a historical piece at NBA.com.

So, as irony would have it, the Americans moved to Long Island for the 1968-69 season, renamed as the New York Nets to play their home games at … wait for it … Long Island Arena.

The Nets played one season in Commack, missing the playoffs outright, before spending the next three seasons as Island Garden in West Hempstead.

The opening of Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale gave the Nets a state-of-the-art facility for the first time and the ABA’s Nets spent their final four seasons there, emerging to win ABA titles in 1974 and 1976 (the league’s last championship).

In nine ABA seasons, the Americans/Nets were 374-370 overall, inching to a better than .500 record by going 168-84 in their final three seasons led by new coach Kevin Lougherty and superstar Julius Erving, purchased from the Virginia Squires in a straight cash deal in August 1973.

In the summer of 1976, the Nets were one of four ABA franchises admitted to the NBA as part of a long-brokered merger agreement, along with the Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers and San Antonio Spurs. With Dr. J on their side, optimism was high as the now-Brooklyn Nets embarked on their NBA journey.

With apologies to Rick Barry, who fell short of the minimum 150 games played to make the list, here are the 10 best players from the Brooklyn Nets’ nine seasons in the ABA, 1967-68 as the New Jersey Americans and the remaining eight seasons (1968-76) as the New York Nets, forever the defending ABA champions.

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