The 2002-2003 New Jersey Nets were the last Nets team to make it past the Eastern Conference semifinals, eventually losing 4-2 to the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals.
It was their second NBA Finals appearance in a row, looking to avenge an embarrassing sweep to the Los Angeles Lakers the year before. They didn't fare much better against Tim Duncan and company, but they at least got on the board for two wins.
The Nets had one true superstar in Jason Kidd, and a handful of role players who played key roles as one of the best defensive teams in the NBA when they were together. Byron Scott made a coaching career out of his success leading the Nets, but it was the last time he would see the playoffs.
Where are the '02-03 Nets now, and who were these unlikely Eastern Conference champions? Let's take a trip down memory lane.
Jason Kidd was and is one of the greatest to ever run the point. He not only was a triple-double machine, but one of the best perimeter defenders in the league. Jason averaged his highest points per game that season with the Nets, putting in 18.7 per game.
Renown for his uncanny court vision, Kidd took his ability to see the game of basketball at another level to the sidelines. He's currently the Milwaukee Bucks' coach, set to coach his team through the Eastern Conference playoffs.
It's crazy to think that Richard Jefferson is still playing in the NBA some 14 years later, but he's putting in minutes for the Cleveland Cavaliers these days. Jefferson was in his second year in the NBA when the Nets fell to the Spurs, standing as their third-leading scorer.
He's managed to stick around because of his versatility and how he's handled himself as a professional. Jefferson won a title with the Cavaliers last season and is surely hoping to make it a back-to-back.
Kenyon Martin became one of the NBA's best defensive players during his time with the Nets, creating a reputation that would keep him kicking around the NBA until he officially retired in 2015. He was 25 years old when the Nets made their 2003 NBA Finals run.
He was the No. 1 pick in the 2000 NBA Draft, and one of the reasons the Nets were among the best Eastern Conference teams during this era.
K-Mart is now one of the captains of rap and movie star Ice Cube's BIG3 3-on-3 basketball league, and will be lacing them up alongside Al Harrington on their team, Trilogy. You'll be able to watch him hoop again soon enough.
He was a great player with the Los Angeles Lakers, and Byron Scott looked set to enjoy a long, successful coaching career after his time with the Nets.
Instead, Scott now has one of the lowest winning percentages for any coach in NBA history, and he's working with ESPN as an analyst. He often makes appearance on their NBA show, The Jump.
It was a fall from grace for Scott, a great player but ultimately a coach that couldn't find success away from a team led by an all-time great point guard.
The phenom out of Villanova enjoyed a short NBA career, almost entirely with the Nets. Kittles was a three-point marksmen before they were in vogue. He played one season with the Clippers before retiring from the NBA at the age of 30, turning to Wall Street after finishing his education.
He's since moved on from that, joining the men's basketball coaching staff at Princeton University in 2016. If you want a full feature on what he's up to now that he's back in the basketball world, VICE recently published a feature about him.
Jason Collins enjoyed a long career in the NBA after his time with the Nets, filling in as a frontcourt role player with tremendous size and professionalism teams turned to when they needed big-man depth.
Collins made history in 2013 when he became the first active male athlete in any major North American professional sport to publicly come out as gay. He retired from basketball in 2014, but not before returning to the Nets.
He signed a 10-day contract with the franchise, which had since moved to Brooklyn, and became the first openly gay North American athlete to play in a major sporting event.
He's since retired, but Collins is active in promoting equality for the LGBTQ community these days.
Dikembe Mutombo was on the Nets? Yes he was, at the young age of 36 after spending 10 years in the NBA. He'd spend just one with New Jersey, clocking 21.4 minutes per game to help shore their league-best defense.
Perhaps more crazy is that Mutombo went on to play for six more seasons — though increasingly limited over the years — retiring at the age of 42 during the 2008-2009 season.
Mutombo has focused on his humanitarian work since, becoming an ambassador to basketball globally. Shockingly, he witnessed the Brussels bombing in 2016, posting on social media about being at the airport during the horrific attack.
The Nets who went to the NBA Finals twice and came up empty-handed are often chastised because of how weak the Eastern Conference was during that era, and for being mostly-dominated when they faced the West's champion.
A look through their roster is a history lesson of some of the top talents of that time, though, and where some of the key players have gone since is fascinating.News Now - Sport News