- Last Updated: 3:52 AM, April 24, 2012
- Posted: 3:05 AM, April 24, 2012
HOOP DU JOUR
Jersey Joe Taub (Walcott will have to stand down) and his brother, Henry, whose brainstorm Automatic Data Processing, at 21, rocket-boosted their family from privation to privileged, returned the Nets’ franchise to the Garden State in 1978 when Roy Boe’s financial discredit forced him to sell.
Eleven years earlier, the Arthur Brown-owned team had coupled with ten other ABA new-borns and played its first season in Teaneck Armory as The Americans and, no, Jay was not its lead singer.
That distinction belonged to Levern (Jelly) Tart, backed up by Tony Jackson, owner of the most picturesque jumper I’ve ever eyeballed, and Artie Heyman, whom I first saw play at Oceanside High School against Larry Brown’s Long Beach.
So, it was late 1967, or early ’68, and here I am again, a spectator, watching Heyman and Brown, who had developed quite an aversion for each other while representing Duke and UNC, exchange hard fouls and harsh words.
Bruce Spraggins must have felt it was open season on Brown, which it was; only Rick Barry was used more for target practice throughout his NBA-ABA-NBA career … by teammates, too. No sooner had my old Rucker friend nailed Brown on general principals than New Orleans Buccaneers’ teammate Doug Moe retaliated … a replay of how it worked while they were together at Carolina.
Right then and there I knew I had found a new home and a unique team to follow, first as a fan and two years later as the Nets’ irregular beat writer, because nobody else wanted the job.
For whatever reason, coach Max Zaslofsky (53-103) got the heave from that game. Since there were no assistants in pro ball until Bill Sharman hired K.C. Jones to help him guide the Utah Stars to the ’71 ABA championship over the Kentucky Colonels, guard Mel Nowell took over.
The Americans came from far behind for the victory. Asked what turned things around, Heyman told the assembled journalist or two, “Max’s ejection.” A few days later, he was traded to Pittsburgh.
Although the Nets had some fascinating flashes in Commack, Island Garden and the Nassau Coliseum, they won entirely too much (two titles) and showcased way too many classy chassis for a budding misanthropist. They became infinitely more appealing as an NBA entry once relocated in Piscataway, where falling asleep at the wheel on return trips to Manhattan was inconceivable in the wake of the nightly enjoyment.
The wildest spectacle, pre-Ron Artest, took place moments after the Rockets had beaten the Nets. A teenage kid screamed something indecent at Barry and he chased him futilely up the steep stairs from courtside to the second level, knocking over a lady in her 70s in the process. Lucky for Barry, lawsuits and suspensions weren’t the rage back then. Nevertheless, he spent a great deal of time afterward on bended knee with the woman and her husband.Follow @NYPostsports