The 80s weren’t exactly banner years for the New Jersey Nets, but Otis Birdsong’s jump shot was a beautiful sight to behold during the era. Birdsong is the Ray Allen equivalent to the Nets franchise (which gives you an idea of the Celtics history compared with the Nets), and his nearly 50% field goal percentage during his seven seasons in New Jersey is almost unimaginable for any perimeter player on the Nets today.
When Birdsong was drafted by the Kansas City Kings as the second pick in the 1977 draft, many thought that he would become a perennial All-Star. However, after a solid run with the Kings that landed him three All-Star selections in 4 seasons, the injury bug plagued him. Despite arguably being the Nets’ best scorer after Vince Carter and Dr. J, Birdsong suffered numerous injuries, including particularly bad ones to his pelvis and his shooting hand. Despite his ailments, Birdsong remained a constant in an era of uncertainty, and was a gift to Nets fans during his time in New Jersey.
Birdsong represents the first sure thing the Nets acquired after the ABA-NBA merger. The franchise, rocked by Dr. J’s contract dispute, rode Birdsong during the mourning. In that sense, Birdsong played the role of Vince Carter in the 09-10 season, a semi-star who could be touted as a star in the eyes of whatever fans filled up the arena.
In short, did Birdsong live up to expectations as the second pick in the ’77 draft, the same draft that Bernard King went 7th)? Not exactly. However, Birdsong filled his role and lays claim to one of the sweetest shots in NBA history.