Welcome to the NBA
In 1976, the Nets jumped to the NBA and played their final season on Long Island
After nine seasons, the Nets had survived the ABA. Along with Denver, San Antonio and Indiana, they were one of four franchises admitted to the NBA for the 1976-77 season.
Coming off three-straight 50-win seasons and the final ABA championship, led by Julius Erving, the Nets looked forward to competing for an NBA title. They loaded up further by trading Brian Taylor and two first-round picks to the Kings for point guard Tiny Archibald.
Over his first six seasons, Archibald had averaged 25.2 points per game, leading the NBA in scoring and assists in the same season in 1974. The Nets sold T-shirts featuring “Dr. J and Tiny A.” But the combo never came to be.
Two days before the team’s NBA debut, Erving was sold to the Philadelphia 76ers to cover the costs the franchise incurred in joining the league.
On Oct. 22, 1976, the Nets won their NBA debut, defeating the Golden State Warriors 104-103. Archibald had 30 points and Super John Williamson added 27 in the win.
But that pairing didn’t last either. Archibald injured his ankle, played just 34 games, and was traded after the season. Williamson played just 42 games before being traded to the Indiana Pacers in February. In their limited time with the team that season, Williamson averaged 20.8 points per game and Archibald averaged 20.5.
The Nets lost 13 straight in the middle of the season and 15 of 16 to close the year to finish 22-60. In their final game at Nassau Coliseum, they lost 89-88 to Indiana on April 1, 1977 as Williamson scored 23 for the Pacers.
With the first round pick acquired in the Williamson trade, the Nets drafted Bernard King. The first player ever selected by the Nets in an NBA Draft, King averaged 24.2 points as a rookie and 21.6 in 1978-79 before being traded to Utah. The only Hall of Famer drafted by the Nets, King returned to the team for his final season in 1992.
For the 1977-78 season, the Nets relocated to New Jersey for the first of four seasons at the Rutgers Athletic Center. They made their first NBA playoff appearance in 1979 and moved into the brand-new Brendan Byrne Arena — later Continental Airlines Arena and IZOD Center — for the 1981-82 season.
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