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Brooklyn Holds Court: Former Nets General Manager, Player Remember The Team's ABA Days

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It has been a long strange trip for the Nets, as the basketball team went from Teaneck, N.J. to Commack, Long Island, then West Hempstead, Nassau Coliseum, back to New Jersey in Piscataway, then the Meadowlands, Newark and finally Brooklyn. Two New Yorkers who were part of the team when it was in the former ABA League spoke with NY1's Budd Mishkin.

Not all of the places the Nets played looked like Brooklyn's new Barclays Center.

Back in the early 1970s, the Nets played in a place called Island Garden in West Hempstead, N.Y. Former Nets general manager Lou Carnesecca has frosty memories of the venue.

"The arena was the closest thing to the North Pole. Only place where you practice with coats on," says Carnesecca.

Carnesecca is known for his 24 seasons as coach at St. John's University, but he also spent three seasons leading the Nets, when the team was part of the American Basketball Association.

During that time, in 1971, Julius Erving had a shot to play with the Nets, when the player wanted to leave the University of Massachusetts, but Carnesecca said no.

"Which I think was a mistake. You tell a guy what a great player he is, and then when you try to pay him, you tell him, 'Maybe you're not that good,'" says Carnesecca. "He said, 'Coach, I don't want to go back. I'm going to sign.' At the time, taking a kid out of school, it was unheard of. It wasn't the smart thing to do."

Erving went on to eventually become the most famous Net in the team's ABA history.

One of Erving's teammates was another St. John's student, Billy Schaeffer, who went to Holy Cross High School in Flushing, Queens and played for the Nets for two-and-a-half seasons in the mid-1970s. He was part of the ABA championship team in 1974.

"The ball is always mentioned, ABA, red white and blue ball. As a shooter, I liked the ball, could see my rotation when I shot the ball," says Schaeffer.

Years later, as the NBA incorporated slam dunks and the three-point shot, Schaeffer saw the imprint of the ABA.

"More entertaining, more flash, more entertainment from players... the NBA eventually became what the ABA was," says Schaeffer.

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