New Jersey Rumors
The following is an excerpt from “1996: A Biography – Reliving the Legend-Packed, Dynasty-Stacked Most Iconic Sports Year Ever” by Jon Finkel. The book is available now on Amazon. To borrow a song title from Green Day (the perfect mid-90s band), picks seven through 12 of the 1996 NBA Draft were a boulevard of broken dreams for NBA executives. They contain a collection of men that run the gamut from “solid pro” to “absolute bust” and no matter how defensible the selection was at the time, within 24 months it was clear that, to be blunt, these six franchises missed. This isn’t 2021 revisionist history. This is 1997-1998 near-immediate regret.
It’s one thing as a general manager to look in the mirror and know that taking Allen Iverson or Marcus Camby or Shareef Abdur-Rahim or Stephon Marbury or Ray Allen or Antoine Walker with one of the first six picks of the ’96 draft was the right basketball call at the time. They all made the ’96-’97 All-Rookie Team (1st or 2nd) and there were two bona fide Hall of Famers (Iverson and Allen) several all-stars (Abdur-Rahim, Marbury and Walker) and Camby was a 4x All-Defensive Team player.
It’s quite another thing to know that from the seventh through 12th picks, you took one of these half-dozen guys: Lorenzen Wright – L.A. Clippers Kerry Kittles – New Jersey Nets Samaki Walker – Dallas Mavericks Erick Dampier – Indiana Pacers Todd Fuller – Golden State Warriors Vitaly Potapenko – Cleveland Cavaliers Over Kobe Bryant. Or Steve Nash. Or Jermaine O’Neal. Or even Peja Stojakovic. That’s a clean 35 All-Star selections from picks 13 to 17 versus none from picks seven to 12.
The coaches’ association has taken periodic polls, most recently two seasons ago, and found “overwhelming support” for suits over polos, Carlisle said. Carlisle spent two years as an assistant with the New Jersey Nets under Chuck Daly, perhaps the most fashion-forward head coach in NBA history. Daly had a sponsorship deal with Hugo Boss. On one road trip, he invited Carlisle to a Hugo Boss outlet for a shopping spree. “It was the nicest stuff I had ever had to that point,” Carlisle said.
After the Warriors, the NBA team that increased in value the most is the Brooklyn Nets, which have been sold twice in the past decade, first to Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, who bought in 2010 and then moved the team from New Jersey to the $1 billion Barclays Center in 2012; more recently, billionaire Joseph Tsai bought the team and its arena for $3.3 billion. The team’s value has jumped 773% in the past decade, the third best of any team in the world.
Twenty-seven years later, the four-time NBA champion with the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony, alongside Mayor Ras Baraka, at an $80 million, 22-story building at 50 Rector Park in the Newark Downtown District. The development, known around town as “Shaq Tower,” is the first high-rise apartment building to join the city’s skyline in more than 50 years. The project came about as a public-private partnership between Shaq, the city, the state of New Jersey, New Brunswick-based Boraie Development and the Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group. The new tower was also boosted by a $24 million New Jersey Department of Economic Development Urban Transit Hub Tax Credit. The building’s one million square feet of space includes ground-floor retail space and 169 residential units—with monthly rents ranging from $1,800 to $2,895—as well as a gym, co-working lounge, private dining room, sky deck and Amazon lockers.
Let’s stipulate: For the Nets to pull off this offseason heist, location mattered. For months, Durant had been linked with the Knicks. A successful, three-year partnership with Golden State that yielded three Finals trips and two titles was winding down, and there was belief around the league that Durant wanted something different. The Knicks could offer the 30-year-old an opportunity to be the face of—all boils aside—one of the NBA’s flagship franchises. Being in New York gave Durant the chance to take more of a hands-on role with Thirty Five Ventures, the Manhattan-based business and entertainment enterprise Durant cofounded with his manager, Rich Kleiman. Irving, raised on New Jersey blacktops and coming off a chaotic two-season run in Boston, was keenly interested in playing closer to his roots.