t's mid-August, the time of year where news is few and far between and when schools beckon their students back to class. So how about some history? language arts? business? international relations? Sound too much like school? Well, that's where we are.
We take a look back to the 1970's and the earliest Net-Knick rivalry when ABA and NBA teams played each other in pre-season games. Little known among Knick fans, the Nets dominated just as they dominated the ABA back then. We also update and revise our agent listings showing a shift in the Nets most favored agents. We also note that the Nets have quietly updated their Russian language site. And finally, we note how the Nets are engaged in diplomacy through sports.
Every Sunday, we’ll be updating the Nets’ off-season with bits and pieces of information, gossip, etc. to help take the edge off missing the playoffs, relying on the Nets’ beat reporters and others who have slipped interesting stuff into larger stories, blogs, tweets...plus our own reporting.
ABA vs NBA
It's a common refrain among Knicks fans when Nets fans point out that the Dolan crew hasn't won an NBA championship in 40 years. Yeah, the response goes, he Nets have never won an NBA championship. ABA championships in 1974 and 1976 don't count. And so the argument goes nowhere.
It's too bad that the Nets and Knicks didn't play each other during the two teams' heydays back in the early 70's.
Oh wait, they did! As the ABA and NBA merger talks ebbed and flowed back then, teams from the rival leagues often played exhibition games in the pre-season, recalls Remember the ABA, a great ABA fan site.
During the first few years of the rivalry, most of the interleague games were played in ABA arenas. The NBA simply did not want to showcase (and legitimize) the ABA in front of NBA fans. On the other hand, ABA cities were happy to host well-known NBA teams. The games attracted extra fans, made money, and painted the ABA as "major league." Results from the first few years were not highly publicized by either league. Again, the NBA did not want to promote the fact that its teams were competing against ABA teams. And the ABA was red-faced because its teams lost most of the early games.
However, in the later years of the rivalry, the tide began to turn. Buoyed by younger, better talent and (in many cases) the home court advantage, ABA teams began winning most of the games. Over the last three seasons of the rivalry, the ABA steadily pulled ahead: 15-10 (in 1973), 16-7 (in 1974), and 31-17 (in 1975). The ABA won the overall interleague rivalry, 79 games to 76.
So how did the Nets do against the Knicks those years? About the same as the ABA did against the NBA. In five games, the Nets won three -- the last three before the merger.
As with the ABA, things started slowly for the Nets. In the pre-season prior to the Knicks last championship season of 1972-73, the city guys beat the suburbanites twice, the first time in a blowout. Of course, the Nets didn't yet have Julius Erving in red, white and blue.
Then from 1973 until the 1976 merger, things changed. Dr. J was by then a Net and the Nets dominated the ABA .. and the Knicks. In pre-season exhibitions in 1973 and 1975, prior to the Nets last two ABA championship seasons, the Nets beat the Knicks all three times the two teams played. Was that the reason that the Knicks demanded a $4.8 million "entry fee" from the Nets on top of the $3.2 million the league required? Did they know the fee would strangle the Nets, require them to undertake a massive cost-cutting, which ulitmately included the sale of Dr. Jr. to the 76ers? Ya think?
Here, thanks to Remember the ABA, are thumbnail descriptions of what went down in each of the five games
October 5, 1972
Knicks 117 - Nets 88
at New Haven, CT
Leaders: John Roche 26 points; Jerry Lucas 25 points; DeBusschere 15 points
October 6, 1972
Knicks 100 - Nets 91
at Uniondale, NY
Leaders: DeBusschere 19 points; Frazier 19 points; Johnny. Baum 19 points; Billy Melchionni 18 points
October 2, 1973
Nets 97 - Knicks 87
at New York, NY (Madison Square Garden)
Attendance at MSG 17,226;
Leaders: Julius Erving 27 points (12 in 3rd quarter); Frazier 25 points
October 8, 1975
Nets 110 - Knicks 104
at Uniondale, NY
October 18, 1975
Nets 103 - Knicks 101
at New York, NY (Madison Square Garden)
Leaders: Erving 33 pts & jump shot at buzzer to win game; Frazier 22 points
Should the Nets ABA championship banners count as much as the Knicks NBA banners from that era? The Nets were willing to see. As Remember the ABA notes, after the 1975-76 season, the ABA Champion Nets offered to play the NBA Champion Celtics in a winner-take-all game, with the proceeds going to benefit the 1976 United States Olympic team. Predictably, the Celtics declined to participate. So we'll never know.
It wasn't that long ago that Dan Fegan could have fielded a starting five of Nets players he represented. Fegan had a great relationship with Kiki Vandeweghe which helped him get clients like Jarvis Hayes and Eduardo Najera gigs with New Jersey. He also pushed Yi Jianlian's career.
That's changed now. As often happens, new management leads to new relationships with agents. It's about trust. Jeff Schwartz is Deron Williams agent. He liked the idea of his client playing in a big market. So it shouldn't be a surprise that some of his guys show up on the Nets...four of them actually plus one of the Nets European draft picks. Same is likely to be true with Arn Tellem, who doesn't have as many clients as Schwartz but he has two max players on the roster, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez.
We recently updated and revised our agent listings for the Nets. Here's the list by agent.
Jeff Schwartz, Excel Sports Management
--Deron Williams, Jerry Stackhouse, Mirza Teletovic, Tyshawn Taylor.
Notes: The Nets have a great relationshiip with Schwartz who represents four Nets as well as their 2012 second round pick, Ilkan Karaman. Schwartz also reps the two point guards who preceded D-Will in New Jersey, Jason Kidd and Devin Harris as well as Paul Pierce, Blake Griffin, Tyson Chandler and Lamar Odom. .
Arn Tellem, Wasserman Media Group.
--Joe Johnson, Brook Lopez
Notes: Bob Myers was Brook and Robin's agent then joined the Warriors' front office. Wasserman and Excel are the two biggest NBA agencies. The agency also represents the Collins twins. Tellem's son, Matt, works in the Nets' front office.
Rob Pelinka, Landmark Sports Agency
Notes: Pelinka represents four members of Team USA: Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala and James Harden. Formerly represented Jordan Farmar.
Dan Fegan, Lagardere
Notes: At one point last season, Dan Fegan had no Nets clients, an oddity for him. Then, he regained Humphries as a client after Hump had dropped him a year or so before for Marc Cornstein. Keith Bogans is also represented by Fegan's office. He famously represents Dwight Howard. 'Nuff said. At one point or another in 2009-11, Fegan represented nine Nets: Stephen Graham, Rafer Alston, Yi Jianlian, Courtney Lee, Eduardo Najera, Jarvis Hayes, Quinton Ross, Troy Murphy and Humphries. He also represents Ricky Rubio.
Notes: Miller's biggest client is Kevin Garnett. There are no clients bigger. Garnett's latest contact will bring his total NBA earnings to $328.6 million. Miller once worked for the Nets in the their press office.
Seth Cohen, Original Creative Representation
Notes: Brooks is one of Cohen's two NBA clients, Hollis Thompson of the Thunder is the other. Brooks is very loyal to Cohen and has said he and Cohen just clicked. He credits Cohen with arranging for match-ups against top shooting guard prospects like Klay Thompson and Alec Burks and getting him into Tim Grover's camp.
Jared Karnes, Allegiant Athletics Agency
Notes: Watson and Ramon Sessions are Karnes' NBA clients. He also has several European clients. It was Karnes who said Watson had other more lucrative offers, but he like his client thought the Nets were a better fit.
Guy Zucker, Zucker International
Notes: Zucker convinced the Nets to let Shengelia play in the Orlando Summer League which led to his signing a two-year deal with the Nets. He has two other NBA clients, Thabo Sefolosha and Marcin Gortat, and a host of Euroleague players.
Marc Cornstein, Pinnacle Hoops.
Notes: Cornstein had previously represented Nenad Krstic, Zoran Planinic, Mile Ilic and Boki Nachbar when they played for the Nets. Bogdanovic joins a long line of players from the former Yugoslavia who have trusted Cornstein.
Mark Bartelstein, Priority Sports & Entertainment
Notes: In 2010, Bartelstein counted Net players Bobby Simmons, Trenton Hassell and Chris Quinn among his clients. We're leaving him in here just in case James comes back to the Nets.
NetsRussia Site Upgraded
Quietly, the Nets have upgraded their NetsRussia site, the Russian variation of the Nets official site. Last year, the Russian translation of the official site was limited. Not anymore. The home page now links to Russian translations of all the major news breaks in free agency, from Deron Williams to Brook Lopez as well as the Nets roster, Avery Johnson's bio, the Barclays Center seating chart. Beyond that, there's Mikhail Prokhorov's (mostly political) Twitter feed, a Russian magazine feature on Irina Pavlova, and a couple of stories about Jay-Z.
With more than 100,000 Russian emigres living in Brooklyn, the site has value locally as well as internationally.
We like it when the Nets do good deeds, particularly overseas. As we noted last weekend, Brook Lopez and assistant coach Doug Overton recently spent time in Northern Ireland and Cyprus trying to improve relations among often warring communities through sport. Both were part of Peace Players International. Also on hand in Belfast was Matt Tellem, who works in the Nets front office and whose agent father (see above) has done pioneering work through his Seeds of Peace program.
The Nets will be participating in another Peace Players International program in the Middle East later this summer, the team reported on its website this week. And in fact the whole program is a Nets priority. Mikhail Prokhorov made what was described as a "significant" contribution to the program earlier this year and now, Irina Pavlova has joined the progam's board of directors, and honor she described to us as "humbling."