Monday, July 6, 2009

Random Nets Crap - 2005 Nets Calendar

As a long-time Nets fan, I've compiled a shitload of Nets memorabilia and freebies throughout the years. Now, feast your eyes on the more ridiculous and obscure paraphernalia in a blog feature I call....RANDOM NETS CRAP!

(Click on images to enlarge)


Allow me to set the scene: It is May 2004. After a tumultuous season involving a coach change, an ownership change, and the announcement of a city change, the Nets had just won a thrilling triple over-time game against the Detroit Pistons, in Detroit, to take a 3-2 lead in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. It was an instant classic, with huge contributions from Lucious Harris and Brian Scalabrine - the less-heralded stars of the two previous Eastern Conference Championship runs. Sadly, the Nets lost the next two games, due mainly to Jason Kidd's knee being in desperate need of microfracture surgery. The Nets went home. The Pistons went on to be champions.

And, with that, the Nets "Glory Days" were definitively over. While there will most likely be better Nets teams in the future, the teams from 2001 to 2004 have given me the stories I will bore my grandchildren to tears with. I usually begin the era with the dramatic home win against the Spurs in the beginning of 2002, and end it with the aforementioned Game 5 against Detroit.

Then came the Summer of 2004. At the time, it was a horrific sequence of events for Nets fans. Our first round pick, sold. Kerry Kittles, traded. Kenyon Martin and Lucious Harris, victims of free agency. Our team, which had just taken the eventual champions to 7 games with our best player on one leg, was a shell of itself.

Now, granted, history has shown us that the Nets moves were, for the most part, very good. Both Lucious Harris and Kerry Kittles made very little contributions in the NBA after 2004, so those moves were clear wins. Selling the 2004 draft pick, however, is indefensible. While the person drafted (Victor Khryapa) was a bust, there was still plenty of talent to be had - Kevin Martin, Delonte West, Anderson Varejao, Sasha Vujacic, and Beno Udrih just to name a few.

But, onto the big kahuna - K-Mart. Kenyon Martin is something that most people see as a smart move, given the injuries he has suffered and the enormous amount of money he was paid. Furthermore, two of the three draft picks he was traded for were parlayed into Vince Carter. I admit that letting Kenyon go was most likely the best option. But, since 2004, the Nets have had a gaping hole at power forward, and have tried nearly every summer to fill it. In the 2005 season, the Nets used a trade exemption to pick up Cliff Robinson. Then, in the summer of 2005, they pursued Shareef Abdur-Rahim. That failed, but led to the unsuccessful acquisition of Marc Jackson. In 2006, Josh Boone and Mikki Moore were recruited to try to man the four-spot. In 2007, they somehow made worse moves than the previous 2 years with Sean Williams and Jamal Magliore. In 2008, Yi Jianlian, Ryan Anderson, and Eduardo Najera were brought in to man that troublesome power forward spot. We are entering 5 A.K. (After Kenyon), and there is still nobody on the roster that resembles an acceptable starting power forward. A starting power forward is nothing to take lightly in the NBA, and that is why I still have my doubts about letting Kenyon go. Let's just play make believe for a second (it's MY blog, indulge me). Kenyon Martin has complained in the past that Denver Nuggets doctors had rushed him back from injury too soon. What if - and it is a big "what if" - the Nets doctors were better, and Kenyon had been able to make complete recoveries from his injuries? Watching Kenyon this postseason, I can't help wonder what could have been.

Needless to say, there was not a lot of enthusiasm for the team by November 2004, as (I assume) these calendars were going to print. Nenad Krstic looked too raw, Alonzo Mourning was accusing the team of trying to kill him, and free agent acquisitions like Jabari Smith, Eric Williams, Rodney Buford, and Ron Mercer were, let's say, slightly uninspiring. But, by mid-December, the unthinkable happened - the Nets acquired Vince Carter for a bag of magic beans, and the franchise was back in business!

But enough with the history, let's look at the pics and make snarky comments!

January 2005

Well, the Nets promotional department saved their best for first. When in doubt, show off The Captain. I could wax nostalgic about Jason Kidd all day (and already have), so I'll spare you all. He's the greatest Nets I've seen.

A couple notes about the calendar, not only does it provide you with your standard calendar reminders (like the day of the week and certain holidays), but also Net games, home promotions, and player birthdays. Keep this in mind as we move forward through the next 11 months.

February 2005

RJ. Here's a list of players over the last 15 years who were upset when the Nets traded them:

Richard Jefferson

That's it. Clearly, a great player that will go down in Nets lore.

According to the calendar, February 11th must have been a fun day to go to the Nets game! Not only did you get to see the Spurs, but kids also received a basketball hoop set. And then, there's the icing on the cake - it was Jacque Vaughn's 30th birthday! Let's see how they did...oh. Well, at least Vince Carter had a good game.

March 2005

TWIN! Admittedly, I have a soft spot in my heart for Twin. While he played extremely poorly in the last few seasons, he gave it his all every night. He sacrificed his body and did everything he could with his talent to help the Nets win. Tell me friend, can you ask for anything more? That being said, it shows the state of the team when Jason Collins is the third player you are showing off.

April 2005

What's this? Vince Carter? How did he get here? As you can see, he is not in a Nets jersey. This was clearly a late addition to the calendar, but I'm sure the promotional guy got some praise for pulling this off. He was acquired December 17th, and these calendars were handed out not too long after that.

May 2005

Coach Lawrence Frank. Back in 2004, everybody loved this guy, as he had the best dead coach bounce of all time. So I could see why they included him in the 2005 calendar. Flash forward to 2009, and he is the longest tenured coach in the Eastern Conference, and the all-time "winning-est" Nets coach. However, there has been a growing contingent of Nets fans who want Lawrence fired. I don't believe he has been the reason for the Nets failures the last two seasons, as the overall talent of the team has been very low. I do not think Lawrence is the best coach in the league, but there are lot of coaches who are much, much worse. I do not want the Nets to make a change for change's sake. Unfortunately, Frank is in the last year of his contract, so I doubt this story line will go away any time soon. I just hope it does not become a distraction.

June 2005

Zoran Planicic! Again, let me emphasize how depleted the Nets were going into 2005. I thought Zoran had a lot of potential, and, apparently, he has carved out a solid career overseas. It is frustrating that in the illustrious 2003 NBA Draft, Zoran is what the Nets walked away with. There was a lot of talent drafted after him, too, namely Josh Howard, Leandro Barbosa, and Mo Williams, as well as a plethora of role players. And don't mention Kyle Korver to me (but it is funny that as soon as Ed Stefanski showed up in Philadelphia, he traded Korver again).

July 2005

Sly the Fox. Yes, folks, the Nets could not get 12 players pictures to fill one calendar. And, yes, it gets worse. And, no, no Sly Mobile. But hey, I just found out Travis Best's birthday is July 12th! Party in two weeks, anybody?

August 2005

Jason Kidd. Getting a sense of deja vu? So, through 8 months, there have been 5 players, a coach, and a anthropomorphic mascot. I'm already counting the days until 2006.

September 2005

Richard Jefferson. No disguise for this double vision. Zoran's birthday is September 12th. Don't worry, just three more months.

October 2005

Team Hype? Really? OK, you could justify Sly, because he entertains the kids. You could justify cheerleaders, because they entertain horny men. But who is Team Hype hyping?

The calendar seems to be going down a slippery slope. Two more months to go, and November features my birthday, so this better be good....

November 2005

VEAL!!!! Wow, did you see this coming? That might be the dorkiest action shot to grace the pages of any wall calendar. Rodney Buford is also present in the background, which is fitting because the calendar reminds us that Buef's birthday is November 2nd. Not bad, wall calendar. You have redeemed yourself.

And finally...

December 2005

The Nets Dancers. Bingo. Sure, they all look poorly airbrushed, but it is the thought that counts.

So there you have it. The Nets marketing department, pulling out all the stops to make you forget about the last 6 months of 2004 and get all hands on deck for 2005. It was a little dicey from May to October, but overall I'd say the calendar did its job. Unfortunately, like the calendar, the events of 2005 between May and October were just as bleak in Nets land, as the Summer of 2005 was almost as much of a disaster of the Summer of 2004. But, that is a topic for another time.

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