This series of articles will celebrate (or laugh at) some of the worst professional sports teams of all time. I will focus on teams within my lifetime so expect the worst from the 1970s to present day.
You know you’re going to have a bad season, when you lose your first 18 games of the season. That is precisely what happened to the New Jersey Nets in 2009-10. The Nets got off to the worst start in NBA history, and never looked back. They finished with a record of 12 wins and 70 losses. At least they didn’t finish with the worst record in NBA history, but they were dreadful. In fact, they were lucky to win 12 times, as the Nets only had 4 victories at the All-Star break.
The biggest problem for the Nets in 2009-10 was scoring or lack thereof. The Nets finished dead last in offence, averaging only 92.4 PPG. They were last in field goal percentage, shooting a paltry 42.9% from the floor. They were last in assists, second last in 3 point percentage. In other words, this team couldn’t score if they lowered the basket to 8 feet.
It didn’t help the Nets were besieged with injuries. Point guard Devin Harris missed 18 games due to shoulder and ankle injuries. Keyon Dooling only played 53 games as he was recovering from off-season hip surgery. Power forward Yi Jianlian only played in 51 games as he battled several injuries, including a sprained MCL, a sprained ankle, and a laceration on his lip. Small forward Jarvis Hayes battled knee and calf injuries and only got into 45 games. The Nets were a walking MASH unit throughout the season, as the trainers were busier than the scoreboard operators. Only one player, centre Brook Lopez played in all 82 games for the Nets in 2009-10.
Lopez was really the only bright spot for the Nets that season. The second year centre from Stanford, led the team in scoring, averaging 18.8 PPG, and rebounds, averaging 8.6 boards per game. Lopez at least, was to represent the future for the Nets, but only played in 5 games in 2011-12 for the Nets thanks to foot and ankle injuries. Lopez is expected to make a full recovery and return to the Nets in time for training camp.
The Nets were so desperate, they signed troubled point guard Rafer Alston to a contract. While incredibly talented, Alston was labelled a cancer by his previous employers, for his legal and personal issues. Alston never found a groove with the Nets, and was released after 32 games.
Perhaps no player summed up the Nets season better than Bobby Simmons. The 6’6 forward from DePaul was named the most improved player in 2004-05, while he was with the Los Angeles Clippers. Simmons then jumped from team to team before joining the Nets in 2009. Simmons could never get it going, only playing in 23 games for the Nets before being released at the end of the season. Simmons was stuck at the end of the bench for most of the season, unable to see playing time for the listless Nets. It didn’t help him that his biggest ally, head coach Lawrence Frank was fired 16 game into the season. When Kiki Vandeweghe took over on the bench, Simmons was stuck in the abyss with no escape. When the season finally ended, Simmons signed with the San Antonio Spurs. He returned to the Clippers in 2012 and is hoping to return to his 2004-05 form.
Perhaps the only other good news for the Nets in 09-10, is that hardly anyone came out to watch them. The Nets ranked dead last in attendance averaging only 13,103 fans into the cavernous Izod Centre. To put it mildly, Neptune had a better atmosphere than the Meadowlands during Nets home games.
Today, the Nets are no longer in New Jersey. In 2010, the Nets moved to Newark, and played their home games at the Prudential Centre. In 2012 the Nets are moving to Brooklyn, renaming themselves, the Brooklyn Nets.
Their colours will go from blue, red and white, to black and white. Hip-hop superstar Jay-Z now owns the team, and has been aggressive in attempting to lure free agents to Brooklyn.
Currently, the Nets are trying to snag centre Dwight Howard away from the Orlando Magic, but as of this post being published, no deal is imminent. One thing is certain: If the Nets return to 2009-10 form, the harsh fans of Brooklyn won’t take it lightly and will make their voices heard.
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