They were still the New York Nets when they selected two-time All-American Bernard King of Tennessee with the seventh overall pick in the 1977 NBA Draft, but King wound up as a highlight in an otherwise dismal first season as the New Jersey Nets.
King was a first-team All-Rookie selection after finishing 10th in the NBA in scoring in 1977-78, while the struggling club leaned on their rookie to the tune of him finishing sixth in the association in minutes played.
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As a rookie, King averaged 24.2 points, 9.5 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.5 steals in 39.1 minutes per game, shooting 47.9 percent from the floor and 67.7 percent at the foul line.
The Nets had moved from Long Island to the Rutgers Athletic Center in late July and eventually got King signed in September, just before training camp.
While New Jersey went just 24-58 in King’s first season, they did make the playoffs in 1979, but the Brooklyn native was traded to the Utah Jazz in October 1979 along with backup big man ohn Gianelli and rookie guard Jim Boylan in exchange for center Rich Kelley.
King missed most of the 1979-80 season after he was suspended following off-the-court criminal charges, but revived his career after being traded to the Golden State Warriors in 1980.
He would spend parts of four seasons with the New York Knicks, winning the scoring title in 1984-85 despite missing the final 27 games with a devastating knee injury that sidelined him for almost two full seasons.
King made a comeback with the Washington Bullets, earning an All-Star berth at age 34, before missing the 1991-92 season with another knee problem. He closed out his career with the Nets in 1993.