April 30, 2012
THE JULIUS ERVING YEARS
The ABA/NBA Merger
The End Of Basketball On Long Island
In their fifth season under owner Roy Boe's care, and now playing their home games in the Nassau Coliseum, the franchise was much more settled, which in turn laid the foundations for success. In fact, with one acquisition the Nets would begin their greatest period in franchise history.
Rick Barry's two seasons with the organization brought a measure of respect to the Nets, and for his part, some legitimacy to what the American Basketball Association was trying to accomplish. But with the forward's departure back to the NBA, the Nets were left with another void to fill.
One poorly played season removed from Rick Barry, the Nets looked again to the organization from which they secured their former prized forward; the Virginia Squires. From them, the Nets acquired Julius Erving. The local kid was coming home to play in his own backyard. After two seasons and a scoring title in Virginia, Erving made his New York debut with the start of the 1973-1974 season.
For the next three seasons, Julius Erving participated in every game the Nets played. He led the league for three straight seasons in field goals made, and twice led the league in field goals attempted and total points.
In his first season with the Nets, Dr. J led the league, averaging twenty seven points per game. He was named the American Basketball Association MVP, and led the New York Nets to their first ever ABA championship.
The Nets were knocked out of the 1974-1975 playoffs rather early. In the regular season however, Dr. J averaged almost twenty eight points per game, and earned his second MVP award.
During the 1975-1976 season, the Doctor led the league again with a twenty nine points per game average. Julius Erving won his third consecutive MVP award. And the Nets defeated the Denver Nuggets for their second ABA championship in three years.
That turned out to be the last American Basketball Association game ever played. The ABA and NBA finally merged. Four teams were absorbed into the NBA from the ABA. The San Antonio Spurs, Indiana Pacers, Denver Nuggets, and the New York Nets were taken into the National Basketball Association.
This situation put the Nets into a financial bind. On top of paying the entrance fee for admittance into the NBA, the Nets were now also on the hook for territorial rights fees due the Knicks for entering their turf. The debate still rages today as to whether the measures taken by the Nets were necessary. But the result of the Nets due bills caused them to sell Julius Erving; many say, in haste.
Just like that, the glory days out in Long Island; Dr. J's home; were over. The aftermath of losing Julius Erving was too much for owner Roy Boe to withstand. Major change was headed the organization's way yet again. For the 1977-1978 season, Roy Boe moved the organization back to New Jersey, where they would eventually settle into the Meadowlands Arena. Before 1978 expired, Roy Boe sold the team. A great ten year run was over.
The New Jersey Nets era was about to begin.