1984: Otis Birdsong
The New Jersey Nets had a welcome return to form in 1983-84 from Otis Birdsong, who had missed significant time over the previous two seasons with knee problems.
Birdsong was named a reserve to the Eastern Conference All-Stars in 1984 after averaging 22.2 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.3 steals in 44 games, shooting 50.9 percent overall and going 5-for-16 from 3-point range.
The Nets got to the All-Star break with a 22-22 record, fourth in the Atlantic Division and four games ahead of the ninth-place Chicago Bulls.
The 28-year-old Birdsong had played in just 99 games in his first two seasons after being acquired in June 1981 from the Kansas City Kings for Cliff Robinson. He had been a three-time All-Star for Kansas City.
Birdsong played 12 minutes in the game at Denver, scoring two points with three rebounds and an assist on 1-of-5 shooting. The East came back to get a 154-145 overtime win in the game. Isiah Thomas of the Detroit Pistons was MVP with 21 points, 15 assists, five rebounds and four steals.
Birdsong missed 13 games after the break, but New Jersey went 23-15 after the break.
Birdsong was healthy for the playoffs, when the sixth-seeded Nets stunned the defending champion Philadelphia 76ers in the first round, winning all three games at Philly, including a 101-98 win in Game 5.
It was the first series win for the Nets since joining the NBA eight years earlier. They would eventually fall in six games to the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Birdsong would not make another All-Star appearance and battled injuries throughout the remainder of his time in New Jersey, which ended when he was waived by the Nets in August 1988.
He would eventually join the Boston Celtics in March 1989 on a 10-day contract and stayed the rest of the season in Boston before retiring.