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How the New Jersey Nets wasted a prime championship opportunity, then fell apart and left the state

In the mid-2000s, the NBA’s Western Conference showed a little vulnerability. The Lakers and Spurs had been cleaning up championships for a few years, but by 2004, there came some opportunity for the Eastern Conference to snatch a few trophies of their own.

The team best positioned to take over was the New Jersey Nets. They’d been swept by the Lakers in the ‘02 Finals, retooled a bit for a stronger performance in the ‘03 Finals against the Nets, and looked ready to go all the way in ‘04 if they kept their core together.

And then it all came crashing down. A combination of cheap new ownership, bad luck in the playoffs, and so, so many injuries sunk the Nets. They considered dismantling the team, only to pounce on an opportunity to add Vince Carter, which only delayed the inevitable teardown. By the time the Nets left New Jersey, they were in tatters.

Get the full story on the Nets’ collapse in this video, and watch the first episode of this series — about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers — here.