In 1991, the Nets were building a really good team.
Derrick Coleman posted 18/10 as a rookie. Backup SG Drazen Petrovic was surprisingly productive off the bench. (It seemed he was ready to replace leading scorer Reggie Theus as the starter.) PG Mookie Blaylock was a defensive terror, placing among the league leaders in steals. He also posted 14/6 and looked to be a fine choice to lead the young Nets into the future.
A young rebounding, defensive-minded center seemed to be the thing standing between the Nets and a real shot at respectibility.
In the weeks leading up to the 1992 draft, the consensus was that the Nets were leaning toward selecting 6'8" forward Billy Owens with the second overall pick. He was a steady, versitile performer, and Coleman's college teammate.
It didn't seem to make sense, however, since Chris Morris was a promising young player who had a good season, and the Nets' only big men were the crippled (but still effective) Sam Bowie and sturdy (but not very talented) backup Chris Dudley.
When draft day finally came, there were rumors that the Nets would select 6'1", 160 lb. PG Kenny Anderson of Georgia Tech. Anderson was an electrifying player in college, and looked completely unguardable at times.
I figured this had to be a ruse, since the Nets already had one of the league's best young PG. I was positive they were taking the obvious choice - 7'2", 260 lb. monster Dikembe Motombo of Georgetown.
With a lineup of Blaylock, Petrovic, Morris, Coleman, and Motombo - with Bowie, Dudley, Terry Mills, and Tate George coming off the bench, Nets fans days of suffering and being laughed at would be officially OVER!
So of course the Nets took Anderson.
He sat on the bench for the entire 1992 season. His teammates played well. Blaylock was near the top of the league in steals again, Bowie stayed relatively healthy, Coleman continued his ascent to superstardom, and Petrovic became the team's most exciting player.
They made the playoffs, but were outmatched by the more experienced Cavs.
Then, in the offseason, the Nets were forced to trade Blaylock. In no position to negotiate, they got back Rumeal Robinson, which was the best they could reasonably do.
Anderson played well, and the team made the playoffs in 1993. Unfortunately, the team again had no answer for the Cavs and star center Brad Dougherty, and they lost a hard-fought series.
Then, two days before the start of the finals, the Nets were dealt the cruelest possible blow. Drazen Petrovic was killed in an automobile accident in Germany. Things would never be the same.
In 1994, the Nets again made the playoffs, but were issued another first round departure by another team with a dominating center, the New York Knicks.
After that, the Coleman/Anderson Nets became an embarassment, and the Nets fans would suffer for many more years. (Until the great Rod Thorn came, and brought with him a savior.)
Ironically, Motombo would haunt the franchise yet again, when Thorn made an ill-advised trade for him and subsequently paid a lot of money to give him away.
The 1992 draft - the beginning of a terrible chain of events that led to a decade of sadness, madness, and loss.
It was the worst move in franchise history.