MEMORIES OF JEFF MELTZER: "Once the Nets moved to the wonderful Nassau Coliseum, the team improved greatly. Of course, I have great memories of the Doctor. But there were other great names of the past for the Nets. There was "Super John" Williamson, who I felt was one of the best one-on-one players of his time. Brian Taylor, out of Princeton, was the point. Billy Paultz was a very adequate center who would lean and lean on Artis Gilmore in many a battle. Larry Kenon, also known as "Mr. K", was a leaper. Not the best leaper on the team -- that distinction went to Ollie Taylor. To watch Taylor before the games would start was truly a spectacle. The Nets had a lot of players move in and out of their lineup over the years. Billy Schaeffer was a good shooting small forward out of St. John's. Willie Sojourner was a good backup center and seemed to be Erving's bodyguard. Johnny Roche was an incredible three-point shooter. Tom "Trooper" Washington was the strong forward right after Manny Leaks (who had one of the greatest names of all time). Gary Gregor and Joe Depre came and went. Off the court, I remember that Marty Glickman and the great St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Bob Gibson did play-by-play one year."
MEMORIES OF DAVID KAUFMAN: "I remember watching the Nets on TV in New York and I've never seen anything like the way Marty Glickman got interviewees. During halftime with the teams warming up for the second half Glickman (while on camera - not during the commercial ) would call out to the player he wanted to speak with. For example, "Julius! Julius! Julius Erving! Could we have a few words with you Julius?" The players would normally oblige but if they didn't want to talk they would act like they didn't hear the request. There was nothing like the ABA."
MEMORIES OF D. MARVA: "I was a youngster growing up in New York City. I was a huge Knicks fan but I started watching some of the Nets games after Rick Barry joined the team. My favorite ABA moment occured after the Nets obtained Julius Erving for the 73-74 season. Early in the season, the Nets were playing the Virginia Squires (Doc's old team). The crowd was already juiced because the the Doctor was back in town. One particular play, Erving came downcourt on George Carter. He took the ball down the right base line. The Doctor took off on the right side of the basket, flew under the basket, and floated out on the left side, while dunking the ball BACKWARDS over his head. George Carter was totally faced, but the Doctor was too cool. He just landed and headed upcourt to play defense. He never even looked at Carter. Can you imagine the gyrations if a player did that today?"
MEMORIES OF MIKE CONNORS: "I too spent some memorable nights in the Nassau Coliseum watching the NY Nets. Living on Long Island, the Nets presented a real home flavor to Island Hoop Junkies. In my humble opinion, the Doctor wrote the book on the Art of Dunking. Yes, he was more exciting than #23 for the Chicago Bulls. Billy Paultz, Rich Jones, Bill Melchionni, John Roche, Larry Kenon, and Super John were great. And the 1976 Playoffs were unforgettable. I was 15 years old, and the noise level those nights was intense. One other thing I will never forget: if we went to the Coliseum early enough the Nets would sit under the Basket during warm-ups. You could walk right over to the players, sit down, talk, and even get autographs. For Free! Imagine that today."
MEMORIES OF JOHN FRACCHIA: "I grew up in Smithtown, Long Island, which is not all that far from where the ABA Nets played. Professional sports were a lot different then (o.k., so I sound like I'm in my eighties instead of thirties). It was not uncommon for a pro athlete to appear at a local mall or restaurant. I'll never forget the excitement that I felt when I saw in Newsday that Julius Erving would be appearing at the local Hardee's restaurant, by the Smithhaven Mall. From time to time, players from the New York Mets would appear at the Mall, and you would generally have the opportunity to shake hands, say a few words, and receive a pre-stamped picture. This was my expectation when my mother took me to see "the Doctor". Boy was I was in for a big surprise! When we got to Hardee's there was hardly anyone there. It was a tiny restaurant, being fast food, and when we walked in Dr. J was sitting at a table with a stack of 8x10 glossies and a pen. He may have had one other person with him, but certainly not the entourage that you would see today. I waited in line, and in a couple of minutes I was standing face to face with my basketball idol. He shook my hand, really took some time to talk with me, and personally signed one of the photographs. I remember just being stunned at how much of a regular guy he was. He came across like someone who could have been a neighbor, or even one of my teachers. To this day, that 8x10 hangs on my wall and is not only a prized possession, but a reminder of a time when sports were a heck of a lot more human."
MEMORIES OF WILLIAM D. McLENDON: "In either 1975 or 1976, I was in high school. My friends and I used to go over to the Nassau Coliseum to check out the Nets. You could see a game for 4 or 5 dollars. You could see a young Julius Erving, Larry Kenon, etc... One particular Friday Night the Spirits of St. Louis were in town. Their team featured Marvin Barnes and my personal favorite Fly Williams. Marvin showed up for warm-ups in a fur coat. That evening we hung around after the game to meet some of the St. Louis players and I got to meet Marvin and Fly. It was an experience I'll never forget. I wish young people today could have the same opportunity but I'm afraid the NBA has priced itself out of the high school market."
MEMORIES OF DOUG McINTYRE: "I remember the dreadful Nets/Spirits playoff series of 1975. The Nets played terrible; they lost the series in five games. The famous Ladner sneaker incident took place during Game 2 in New York. The Spirits' Freddie Lewis plucked the ball clean from Ladner who, for some reason, was bringing the ball up court. Ladner fell down after the steal and his sneaker came off in his mad scramble to get back on his feet. Lewis had a clear path to the basket and he was all alone, so Ladner picked up his sneaker and fired it at Lewis, hitting him in the small of the back. As I remember it, Lewis was just leaving his feet for the layup.... but I could be wrong about that. Still, the impact knocked the ball out of Freddie's hands. It's funny as hell today, but as I recall, the Spirits' bench was livid and the Net fans were irritated. I had a great view of this memorable moment, because my seats were under the Nets basket at the endcourt. So I was looking straight at Ladner as he threw the sneaker. Ladner was a real nut -- he loved to rough up Rick Barry. I remember one of Ladner's first games in the ABA, when he was with the New Orleans Buccaneers... He just beat up Barry, even though Barry scored about 35 points off of him... it was brutal."
MEMORIES OF SCOTT LEWIS: "I remember getting into the ABA because it seemed like a wild relative of the NBA. Growing up in New York I was a big Nets fan. Rick Barry was amazing and Dr. J was beautiful to watch. Some of my other favorite Nets were Manny Leaks and Wendell Ladner. When Wendell was killed in a plane crash I found it very shocking. I was in my early teens and it had a sobering effect on me. I would have to say that my all-time favorite Net was Super John Williamson. He looked more like a fullback. I used to love when he would bang into the man guarding him, drawing a foul, and still hit his outside shot."
MEMORIES OF LARRY BELLINGER: "I remember when the Nets traded for a player named Wendell Ladner. One time, he was asked why he was so aggressive towards opponents who were covering Julius Erving. Ladner said something like: "That guy, (pointing at Erving) is responsible for my check! Nothing happens to him while I can do something about it." After the 1974-75 season, Ladner died in a plane crash at Kennedy Airport; he was identified by his Nets ABA championship ring."
MEMORIES OF M. FAZIO: "Well, if memory serves me correctly, the Nets faced the San Antonio Spurs in the 1976 Playoff Semifinals before moving on to defeat Denver in the 1976 ABA Finals. Most people don't remember the grueling 7-game playoff series with the Spurs that featured some of the roughest play I've ever seen. I remember that New York's Richie Jones (a former Spur) and Larry Kenon of the Spurs (a former Net) waged a very physical battle. Jones was disliked back in San Antonio and due to death threats, he was forced to miss Game 6 in San Antonio, which was won by the Spurs. He actually watched the game from his hotel room in San Antonio. I'll never forget attending the decisive Game 7 on Long Island at the Nassau Coliseum. I arrived with my friends a good hour and half before tip-off. Along with the rest of the sell out crowd, we chanted so loudly that my voice was hoarse before the start of the game. I remember standing over the area where the hated Spurs entered the court from the locker room under the Coliseum and screaming at them (I think some cursing and spitting was involved too). I know I saved my loudest boos for their dirtiest player, George Karl. What a night! The Nets went on to defeat the Gervin-led Spurs and I still recall it as my most favorite game ever attended."
MEMORIES OF ROY RODRIGUEZ: "I grew up in Flushing, Queens. Everybody there was a Knick fan. But along came "The Doctor" in 1973 to play for the Nets. In 1974 the Nets won their first title and Clyde only played 2 more years for the Knicks. The great Knick teams of the early 70's were no more. So the Doctor finally took center stage and the1976 ABA Finals was one of the most exciting playoff series that time has forgotten. The game-by-game battles between David Thompson and Erving were classics. Both averaged well over 30 points per game in the series. I attended Game Six of the series. I've been to many basketball games in my life, but never have I ever experienced a more raucous crowd. Everybody was so loud that you could not hear the PA announcer when Dr. J was introduced during the pre-game intros. The game itself was amazing! The Nets where down by 22 points in the 3rd quarter and made a miraculous comeback led by "Super John" Williamson. My brother and I and some friends rushed the court after the final buzzer in a wild celebration that I will never forget. I frequently check on ESPN Classic to see if the game is ever on, but in the 2 years that I've had that channel it has never been shown."
MEMORIES OF JOHN BILNEY: "I saw the last ABA game. Julius and the New York Nets taking on David Thompson and the Denver Nuggets for the ABA title -- it was the sixth game of the series. On the spur of the moment, a friend and I jumped in our car and took off from Jersey. Showed up about halfway through the first quarter. We got some tickets for half price from a scalper (and ended up sitting next to him!!). Nassau Coliseum. Two things I remember vividly from that game.
David Thompson of the Nuggets slams home an offensive rebound in midair.
Streaming RealAudio File- Call by and copyright Bob Lederer and used with permission)
Second, the Nets were getting beat soundly and Julius led them back. They were way down in the 3rd quarter and The Doctor and John Williamson started lighting it up. A great finish. The Nets won and know one knew that this was the end of the ABA."
MEMORIES OF TIM BROUN: "I was in Times Square recently and walked past the All Star Cafe. I was looking as I passed, and there on display was the New York Nets 1976 ABA Championship Trophy! It is very cool. It looks like it could use a good cleaning. It also looks like it's more than 22 years old. You can tell that the ABA certainly didn't (or couldn't) shell out money for the trophies. The Nets trophy is a large bowl shaped trophy (silver?) on a large wooden base. Maybe 18 inches in diameter, and about 8 inches deep. On each corner of the base is a 6" basketball player. There is also an ABA logo, and some other words on the bowl, but they are hard to make out. On the base is simply a small nameplate (similar to one on an office door or desk, but smaller) that only says "New York Nets." Pretty neat find."
MEMORIES OF MIKE DALY: "I was a Knicks fan in my pre-teen years when WOR-TV Channel 9 in New York began to air New York Nets games. The red, white and blue ball, the three-pointer and the prodigious use of the dunk made me drop the NBA in seconds flat. Dr. J and his finger roll mesmerized me. The 73-74 Nets were my favorite -- the team with Brian Taylor, Larry Kenon, John Williamson, Billy Paultz and the Doctor as the starting five. When that team won the championship I felt like I had a team to truly call my own. I recall being saddened the following year when Wendell Ladner was killed in that airline disaster in New York. I was sorry to see the league go, but happy to have the Nets join the NBA...until the Doctor was shipped off to Philly. Tiny Archibald, the star imported in the wake of that sad transaction, was just no substitute. These days, if I have to root for an NBA team, it is the Nets, but I follow only with passing interest. I watched the HBO Special, and I have to say that as a kid, I was blissfully unaware that the ABA struggled so badly. I simply was attracted by the more exciting brand of basketball and the hip attitude exemplified by the ABA. People need to know that the Doctor and David Thompson could fly years before Michael Jordan, and that the NBA only survived to see the likes of Magic, Bird and Mike because of the infusion of talent and excitement provided by the NBA/ABA merger."
MEMORIES OF JOHN SPINA: "Many place the NBA demise of the Nets squarely on Roy Boe's selling of Doctor J in the fall of 1976. But I think the Nets began to slip in 1975 when they traded almost their entire front court for Swen Nater, and then traded Swen for Jumbo Jim Eakins and a couple of high-tops.
My question is, had they left the teams from '74 and '75 intact, could they have made some noise after the merger? With such a young roster and coach (I think Loughery was in his mid 30's at the time) I get the feeling that the Nets of the late 70's could have been as good, as athletic, as deep, and as magical as the Lakers and Celtics of the 80's. Taylor, Super John, Special K and the Whopper all had very productive numbers for their respective teams until about 1980. Kenon in particular was a 5-time NBA All-Star. Even Swen managed to keep his job at starting center for the Clippers for about 7 years after joining the brown ball league. We all know how dominant the 76ers were with the Doctor, so, tell me, did the Nets miss out on some big time NBA glory, or am I delusional?"
MEMORIES OF DAVE LEDERER: "I remember attending an exhibition game in Madison Square Garden between the Knicks and Nets. It was before the last ABA season (75-76) and my brother and I were some of the only Nets fans at the game. Julius won the game with a last second jump shot over the immortal Hawthorne Wingo and stunned all the Knicks fans -- who really had no idea how good Erving was. Everyone in the Garden was on their feet and the Nets danced off the floor. After the game was over, one of the Knicks players (a stiff whose name I can no longer recall) was out in front of the Garden signing a few autographs (how times have changed) when there was this huge commotion. Erving was noticed by the 50 or so kids standing outside. Suddenly, they abandoned the Knicks player and chased the good Doctor on his way to the railroad station for the ride home to Long Island (again, times have changed!) The poor Knicks guy was left with his pen and paper and no one to hand the autograph to. Julius' charisma was just that powerful, especially with the aura of mystery that surrounded the ABA in Manhattan. After the Nets won the last ABA title the following Spring, and after the merger, the Nets challenged the NBA Champion Celtics to a series for the benefit of the 1976 Olympic Team. They are still awaiting Red Auerbach's answer. Finally, about 5 years ago I got some closure on the matter when I ran into Red in a Boston restaurant. As he was leaving I asked him: 'Hey, Red. Remember before the merger when you said Erving was an average player? He was elected to the Hall of fame last month. What do you think of him now?' He asked his buddies 'Who let this ABA guy in here?' Then he asked me 'What are you, some wise guy from New York?' He never answered my question and puffed his cigar at me as he headed for the door. Speechless (momentarily) at last."