1974 ABA Champions
The arrival of Dr. J sent the Nets on the way to their first ABA title
With their stars and stripes uniforms, iconic star and two championships in three seasons, the New York Nets became the signature franchise of the ABA’s final years.
It all began with the trade for Julius Erving in the summer of 1973. The Nets sent forward George Carter and “a lot of cash,” according to Virginia Squires owner Earl Foreman, for whom Erving had averaged a league-high 31.9 points per game in 1973.
After a tough early-season stretch, the Nets ripped off 19 wins in 22 games and closed the regular season by winning 10 of 11 to capture the ABA’s Eastern Division with a 55-29 record.
Erving won the first of three straight ABA MVP awards after averaging a league-leading 27.4 points, 10.7 rebounds. 5.2 assists, 2.4 blocks and 2.3 steals per game. Forward Larry Kennon averaged 15.9 points and 11.5 rebounds and guard John Williamson averaged 14.5 points and each was named to the ABA’s All-Rookie Team.
The Nets tore through the playoffs, led by Erving of course, winning 12 of 14 games. They dispatched Erving’s old team, the Virginia Squires, in five games in the first round and swept the Kentucky Colonels — featuring Artis Gilmore and Dan Issel.
In an 89-87 Game 3 win over Kentucky, Erving scored 30 points including the buzzer-beating game-winner.
“I can still see Julius floating to the right in the air, the shot leaving his hand, and he just ran right into the dressing room after he let it go,” Kentucky GM Dave Vance said in author Terry Pluto’s ABA history, Loose Balls. “Julius knew it was in and he knew he had won the game.”
Erving opened the championship series with an epic 47-point performance in an 89-85 win to send the Nets on the way to winning the ABA title in a five-game series against the Utah Stars. Utah avoided a sweep with a Game 4 win before the Nets sealed their title with a 111-100 victory behind 23 points from Kenon and 21 from Billy Paultz while Erving had 20 points and 16 rebounds.
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