Nets All-Time Top 25: No. 13 Otis Birdsong

Despite injuries, guard thrived for Nets playoff teams of the '80s

The selections for the Nets All-Time Top 25 Team were made by the author, with no input from the Brooklyn Nets organization. Selections were based on a combination of individual performance, team success and their contribution to it, and longevity with the franchise.

With his seven seasons with the Nets, guard Otis Birdsong is tied for seventh in team history for longevity with the franchise.

Birdsong arrived in a 1981 trade as the highest-paid guard in the NBA after the Kansas City Kings matched his free agent offer from Cleveland and dealt him to the Nets. With the franchise filling up the frontcourt in the previous two drafts – Buck Williams, Mike Gminski, Albert King and Mike O’Koren – Birdsong, coming off three straight All-Star Game appearances and an All-NBA Second Team selection, filled the void for a primetime player in the backcourt.

Injuries would dog Birdsong during his time in New Jersey, limiting him to an average of 53 games a season. But he was a key player in one of the franchise’s stronger periods. In his first season, with the Nets under new coach Larry Brown, the team made a 20-win improvement to 44 wins to make the playoffs for just the second time in six NBA seasons.

In fact, the Nets made the playoffs in each of Birdsong’s five seasons with the team as the guard averaged 17.2 points per game with the Nets through the 1985-86 season.

An early-season injury to Birdsong in 1986 was a key factor to that playoff streak being snapped in 1986-87. He played just seven games that season before returning for a final year with an injury-plagued team in 1987-88. He wrapped up his career with a short run with the Boston Celtics the following season.

In his seven seasons with the Nets, Birdsong averaged 15.9 points per game on 50 percent shooting.


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