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NBA’s 75 greatest players of all-time list: which Nets made the cut?

Kevin Durant, Steve Nash, Jason Kidd, Julius Erving, Nets

In commemoration of its 75th season, the NBA has released a list comprised of the 75 greatest players of all time. The Nets, to no one’s surprise, were heavily represented.

The 75th-anniversary team was selected by a  “blue-ribbon panel of media, current and former players, coaches, general managers and team executives.” Kevin Durant, James Harden and Steve Nash made the cut as far as current Nets players or coaches. Julius Irving, who established himself as one of the best players in the world during his stint with the New York Nets in the mid-1970s, made the cut, too.

James Harden’s reaction to being told he made the list was priceless.

The Beard isn’t often the most popular player league-wide. Casual fans rag on him for flopping, traveling, shooting too much and coming up short under pressure. Real hoopers know Harden has been squarely in the MVP conversation for the better part of a decade and led a Houston Rockets team that nearly defeated juggernaut Golden State Warriors in the 2018 Western Conference Finals. He’s one of the best players of all time already. He’ll get more respect from casuals after he’s won a ring.

Nash made the list based on his achievements as a point guard: Eight-time All-Star, seven-time All-NBA honoree, five-time assists champion and two-time MVP.

The closest Nash came to winning a title was probably in 2007, the year his Phoenix Suns lost to the San Antinio Spurs. Phoenix was arguably the best team in the playoffs that year, but San Antonio’s Robert Horry committed a dirty foul against Nash which prompted Suns’ players Boris Diaw and Amar’e Stoudemire to leave the “immediate vicinity of the bench” area, netting automatic one-game suspensions. Nash deservedly makes the list anyway, but probably still wonders what might have been that season.

Nets legend Jason Kidd got the nod as well. Kidd led the Nets to back-t0-back finals appearances in 2002 and 2003. Those fun teams lost to Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant’s Los Angeles Lakers and Tim Duncan’s Spurs. But Nets fans will always remember those teams fondly. Rick Barry, Mr. Granny-style underhand free throw himself, also made the list. He played for the Nets in the 1970s.

Possible Nets nubs might include Kyrie Irving and Vince Carter. Not seeing these names isn’t a total shock. But it does beg the question, “What defines greatness?” New York Knicks legend Dave DeBusschere might have been truly great for his time. But if this humble reporter were drafting an all-time team to contend with Durant, Harden and LeBron James, I think I’d feel a bit better with Carter or Irving on my squad than I would with DeBusschere.

A couple controversial additions include Anthony Davis and Damian Lillard. Irving arguably hit the most important shot in NBA history— or at least the most important shot in the last 30 years—giving the Cleveland Cavs a title over the Warriors, paving the way for Durant to join Golden State in free agency. Some might reasonably contend Kyrie deserves a spot over a couple names on the list. But with an even better case than Irving might be the most controversial snub of all, Dwight Howard.

All in all, few teams showed out as well as Brooklyn, with two current players and their coach being selected among the 75 greatest players ever.