The calendar turns to a New Year and a new decade at midnight. Before it does, here's a look at the some of the biggest stories in chronological order of the Nets' most successful yet most frustrating decade.
Stories of the decade
2000 Nets Win No. 1 pick: The franchise changed with this move. Rod Thorn may not have left the league office if not for the Nets winning the Lottery and a chance to draft Kenyon Martin. Former Georgetown guard Michael Jackson might have been the prez.
2001 Nets trade for Jason Kidd: The biggest moment in the Nets’ NBA history was when Thorn and GM Ed Stefanski acquired Kidd, who had worn out his welcome in Phoenix. The deal, that included Stephon Marbury going to the Suns, also put Thorn on the map as one of the league’s best executives. Kidd’s arrival led to six straight playoff berths. The Nets wisely waited because they were close to sending Marbury to the Clippers for Keyon Dooling and the No. 2 pick before the draft.
2002-3 Nets reach two NBA Finals: Once an NBA laughingstock, the Nets were laughing at the Knicks and every other East team. They rolled to back-to-back Finals in Kidd’s first two years after winning just one playoff series their previous 25 NBA seasons. They set their NBA mark with 52 wins in 2001-02.
2004 Byron Scott is fired: Despite the Nets’ success, there were players working behind the scenes to force a coaching change. They did as Scott was let go and Lawrence Frank took over and set a pro sports record with 13 consecutive wins to start a career. Later, Scott said there was “a mutiny” toward the end of his Nets’ tenure.
2004 Nets sold to Bruce Ratner: A nice man who had no business owning a basketball team, Ratner didn’t care about winning as much as he did real estate and building an arena in Brooklyn. It’s still not done, but the emphasis on the arena instead of the product on the floor led to some disappointing seasons, including this one.
2004 Nets trade Kenyon Martin: The Nets were smart not to match the Nuggets’ $90-plus million offer – not that ownership would have let them – so they parted with Martin and still haven’t replaced his toughness and defensive tenacity. The smart thing would have been to lock him the summer before for less when the Nets had the exclusive right. Kidd never got over Martin’s departure. But had Kenyon stayed Kidd probably would have found something else to upset him.
2004 Nets acquire Vince Carter: The one good thing that came out of the Martin trade were the draft picks they received helped them get Carter. They also got rid of headache Alonzo Mourning in the process. Carter provided excitement and some magnificent moments, including his fantastic finish to the 2004-05 season when he and Kidd led the Nets on a 15-4 crusade and improbable playoff berth.
2005-06 Another banner: The Nets have winning streaks of 14 and 10 games and finish with 49 victories, matching their second-most in their NBA history. They also win their fourth and final Atlantic Division title. It's also the last time they finish above .500.
2007 Kidd's migraine: Had the Nets said Kidd had a backache it wouldn’t have raised much of a red flag, but a migraine raised eyebrows everywhere. Kidd rarely missed games to begin with so migraine wasn’t believable. Either way, it would have gotten out he was planning his exit from New Jersey and this was some sort of boycott. It really was a bad moment for a player the fans loved and admired.
2008 Kidd traded: The inevitable happened in February, a few weeks after Kidd publicly requested a trade. The Nets eventually sent him to Dallas in a huge deal that brought Devin Harris and two first rounders to New Jersey. It was a sad day for the Nets, but inevitable. Kidd had become a migraine headache to the entire organization.
2008 Jefferson traded: Four months later, the last player left the two Finalists was given his walking papers in a lopsided deal that screamed rebuild. Jefferson went to the Bucks for unproven Yi Jianlian and Bobby Simmons, whose contract is up this season. The Nets set the groundwork to be in the 2010 free-agent market. Now all they needed was to trade Carter.
2009 Carter traded: Nearly a year to the day Jefferson was traded Carter was sent to the Magic with Ryan Anderson for Courtney Lee, Rafer Alston and Tony Battie. This deal may have been more lopsided than Jefferson. The Nets moved their best player and a good young power forward and got no draft picks back. This was a salary dump for 2010 and for ownership to finally sell.
2009 Nets sold to Russian billionaire: Mikhail Prokhorov agreed to purchase controlling interest in the Nets and part of the reason is all the money and flexibility they will have in 2010. He’s supposed to be an owner that cares about winning and will spend to win. The NBA still has to approve the sale, which is expected to happen early in 2010.
2009 Nets start 0-18: We knew the Nets would be bad, but not historically bad. Selling off their best players and injuries galore led to an NBA-record 18-game losing streak to start the season.
2009 Lawrence Frank is fired: He couldn’t survive the awful start, although he was gone before the Nets set the record. Thorn dismissed him at 0-16, citing the need for “a new voice.” The Nets have since won, but are on pace to break the mark for worst record ever: 9-73. I don't think they will.
Al Iannazzone covers the Nets for The Record (Bergen County, N.J.)