When New Jersey acquired Jason Kidd, we watched an efficient team on the court for two back-to-back finals appearances, followed by years of playoff spots and Kidd-to-Carter alley-oops. Sure, they weren’t contenders those years, per se, but they were at least competitive.
But once J-Kidd left, things took a strange turn.
I’m not one to believe in curses, but you have to admit, things are getting weird around here. No matter what they do, no matter who coaches the team, runs the team, owns the team, bad luck surrounds the New Jersey Nets like a fog, a stigma of mediocrity they can’t escape.
Along with the Nets, I am a huge Buffalo Bills fan, so losing franchises are second nature. With the Bills, it’s easy to point out exactly where the faults lie: a cheap, old owner who simply refuses to spend money. But with the Nets, we face an entirely different situation: did Kidd curse the Nets? Is his trade demand and “migraines” the reason the Nets can’t see to get it together?
In a one word answer, no. There is no such thing as the Jason Kidd Curse and the reason the Nets stink is because, well, they’re bad at basketball. But here is the situation we’re looking at right now: the now-waived Keith Bogans became the second casualty of a season-ending injury, and he was the fill-in for Damion James, the first casualty of a season-ending injury. Bogans also now joins MarShon Brooks, Kris Humphries, Damion James, Brook Lopez, Anthony Morrow, Mehmet Okur, Johan Petro, DeShawn Stevenson, Deron Williams and Shelden Williams to miss games this season due to injury, all while the Nets are in the midst of their second six-game losing streak.
The Jason Kidd Curse first came to mind when the Nets lost MarShon Brooks to a broken toe two weeks ago, but I held off on writing an actual column about it. The Nets aren’t cursed. It doesn’t make sense. But then Keith Bogans got hurt. And Shawne Williams got worse. And the losses piled up. So I started doing a little digging and there is a strange pattern going on ever since the greatest Net of All-Time, as voted by the Nets Are Scorching staff, left the team.
Let’s take a look at the Jason Kidd Curse timeline that the Nets are trying to dig their way out of…
February 18, 2008: The Nets start building their coffin, trading Jason Kidd, Malik Allen and Antoine Wright to the Dallas Mavericks for Devin Harris, Keith Van Horn, Maurice Ager, DeSagana Diop, Trenton Hassell, $3 million in cash, and 2008 and 2010 first round picks. Van Horn didn’t play one game for the Nets after the trade, and Ager, Diop and Hassell put on uniforms, but were non-factors for their entire Nets tenure. The 2008 pick became Ryan Anderson (more on him later) and the 2010 pick became Jordan Crawford, eventually traded to Atlanta.
April 2008: The Nets fail to make the playoffs for the first time in seven years. Rod Thorn and Lawrence Frank both promise fans that changes will be made to turn the Nets into a winning organization.
June 26, 2008: The Nets trade Richard Jefferson, after starting 82 games and posting a career-high in points, to the Milwaukee Bucks for Yi Jianlian and Bobby Simmons, hoping to turn Yi into a global superstar and make the Nets more marketable across the world. The day is also the 2008 NBA Draft, where the Nets take Brook Lopez, Ryan Anderson (via Dallas) and Chris Douglas-Roberts. Yi Jianlian’s Nets’ tenure was plagued by injuries and frustrating post-play, and Bobby Simmons started 46 games until the Nets cut him the following season.
2008-2009 season: The Nets miss the playoffs with a 34-48 record. Devin Harris loses to Danny Granger for the Most Improved Player award, mainly because of injuries that sidelined him for 13 games.
June 26, 2009: The Nets start Draft Night 2009 on a great foot by trading their star player (Vince Carter) and throwing in Ryan Anderson for Rafer Alston, Courtney Lee and Tony Battie. They take Terrence Williams #11 overall. The Nets cut Alston midway through the season, Battie was a non-factor and Lee started 66 games for the Nets before getting traded the following season.
2009-2010 season: The Nets start the season 0-16 and fire their head coach Lawrence Frank, mostly out of scapegoat status. They lose their next two games and to clinch the record for worst start to an NBA season. Harris follows up his all-star season with 16.9 points per game average and a season riddled with shoulder and ankle injuries. The Nets narrowly miss the “Worst NBA Record Ever” record by three games and finish the season 12-70.
May 19, 2010: Despite posting the worst record in the NBA, the Nets lose the draft lottery in a one-player draft, shattering hopes of John Wall in a Nets uniform. New owner Mikhail Prokhorov’s first national move is standing awkwardly as the lotto balls give the Nets the #3 pick.
June 24, 2010: The Nets select Derrick Favors out of Georgia Tech with the third pick and Damion James out of Texas with the 24th. We all know what happened to Favors, and James can’t get over a chronic foot injury, attaining as many seasons as surgeries thus far.
2010 offseason: Despite heavy courting and trading away key players (Jefferson, Carter) for cap space, the Nets lose out on the following players in free agency: LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, Amar’e Stoudomire and Carlos Boozer. Instead, they end up with Travis Outlaw, Johan Petro, Jordan Farmar and Anthony Morrow. Fronted by new GM Billy King, new coach Avery Johnson, Prokhorov and minority owner Jay-Z, the “Blueprint for Greatness” is deemed a colossal failure.
After striking out with James, the Nets heavily pursue a trade with the Denver Nuggets for Carmelo Anthony, of which key players like Devin Harris and young rookie Derrick Favors get put on the trading block before the Nets even play their first game.
August 11, 2010: The Nets execute a four-team trade that sends Courtney Lee to Houston and brings back Troy Murphy, a career double-double power forward with three-point range. Murphy suffers a back injury in training camp, never plays at full strength, and turns in by far the worst season of his career. The Nets deal him at the deadline for an expiring contract (Brandan Wright).
December 14, 2010: The Nets trade last year’s first round pick to the Rockets in a three-team deal that lands them Sasha Vujacic and two first-round picks. The deal isn’t bad for the Nets, but shows how bad of a pick T-Will was, as the Nets were willing to let a promising first-rounder go after one and a half seasons because of attitude and production issues.
February 22, 2011: After a distracting, media-driven season, the Nets lose Carmelo Anthony to the Knicks. The New Jersey/Brooklyn hype appears to be a non-factor and no player has a desire to play for the team. Prokhorov says he is glad the Knicks “overpaid” for Melo, but the Nets are still without a superstar to make them relevant since the beginning of the Jason Kidd curse.
February 24, 2011: Finally–a swing for the Nets! The Utah Jazz trade their star point guard Deron Williams for Devin Harris, Derrick Favors and the 2011 Nets first rounder (eventually Enes Kanter).
Remainder of the 2010-2011 season: Deron Williams brings hope to the Nets organization. However, the Nets only get 12 games of him due to a nagging wrist injury and they fail to make the playoffs for the fourth straight year.
June 23, 2011: The Nets select Providence guard MarShon Brooks with the 25th pick in the draft. They also take Jordan Williams out of Maryland (#36 overall) and receive the rights to Bojan Bogdanovic in a draft day trade.
2011 offseason: After the NBA lockout nearly wipes out the entire season, the Nets enter heavy trade negotiations with the Orlando Magic for Dwight Howard. Everyone on the team is up for trade, including Brook Lopez.
December 14, 2011: The Nets are very close to acquiring Dwight Howard, and reportedly have a deal in place between King and Orlando GM Otis Smith. Orlando pulls out of the deal at the last minute, upsetting Nets fans, players and Dwight Howard himself who “thought he was going to the Nets.”
December 24, 2011: The biggest trade piece in the Dwight Howard saga, Brook Lopez, suffers his first career injury — a broken fifth metatarsal, the same injury that plagues Damion James, allowing him to miss up to eight weeks (possibly more) of action, pushing the Nets race for Dwight Howard until the last days before the trade deadline. Wait, so you’re saying the Nets finally had a chance to acquire the best center in the league until their “never-missed-an-NBA-game” trade piece gets hurt at the perfect moment? And we don’t believe Jason Kidd may have left a couple black cats in Izod Center locker room?
2011-2012 season: The Nets set a season record of 14 different starting rotations due to the constant injuries. MarShon Brooks, after starting off with energy and immediate help on the offensive side of the basket breaks his toe, sidelining him for two weeks. Despite getting elected to the All-Star team, Deron Williams is clearly frustrated by his play and the team surrounding him.
In the meantime, Orlando big man Ryan Anderson (the throw-in in the Vince Carter trade) averages 16.4 points and 7.4 boards per contest as the final “Eff-You” to the Rod Thorn era.
I said before, I don’t believe in curses. I don’t believe in any “Jason Kidd Curse.” And yet, I stand before you, a man who just laid it out for you in 1600 words. Who knows what to believe anymore?