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Monday, December 19, 2011
Nets' Top 5 stories of 2011

By Mike Mazzeo
Special to ESPNNewYork.com

We asked ESPNNewYork.com's writers to rank their five top stories of 2011. Next up: Mike Mazzeo, who shares his Nets picks. Let us know what you think in the comments section.

1. Nets acquire Deron Williams

How could the New Jersey Nets upstage the New York Knicks? By acquiring Williams, that's how. A day after Melo was dealt to the Knicks, the GM Billy King went into stealth mode and landed D-Will in a Feb. 23 blockbuster trade with Utah. King knew the Nets needed a superstar with the team heading to Brooklyn in 2012-13, and he got his man.

Deron Williams
The Nets landed Deron Williams in 2011 -- but will he follow them to Brooklyn?

Williams, who heard about the trade on "SportsCenter," was caught completely off guard. To jet across the country to join the Nets, he had to leave behind his wife, who was about to give birth to their fourth child. He played 12 games with the Nets and averaged nearly 13 assists, but an injured right shooting wrist hampered his ability to shoot the ball consistently.

D-Will has since warmed up to the idea of playing in the big city. He says he's going to opt out at the end of the season, but the Nets say they're going to do everything in their power to keep him. Plus, they're trying to pair him with Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard. And to think, the Nets have won just 36 games in the past two seasons combined.

2. Kris Humphries marries, then unmarries Kim Kardashian

Remember when your teachers used to make you get up in front of your class at the beginning of the school year and talk about what you did over the summer. Imagine Kris Humphries talking about what he did during the NBA lockout.

Well, I married this voluptuous woman, who became famous despite having no talent, in a nationally televised ceremony on Aug. 20 that brought in millions of dollars. Seventy-two days later, we split. It was the match made in heaven turned match made in hell. And no, I'm not going to tell you if I asked for the $2 million engagement ring back. Don't people remember I had a breakout season on the court? You mean they were watching Kim sitting courtside the entire time, not the game? What a shocker.

3. Melo Drama in N.J.

Melo Drama, indeed. For months, the Nets pursued Carmelo Anthony. At one point, they even thought they had a deal. But Anthony's heart was always in New York. So, as the losses continued to pile up and the rumors swirled -- half the team was supposed to be traded, or so it seemed -- owner Mikhail Prokhorov finally had enough. On Jan. 19, the Russian billionaire put his foot down and killed the deal.

"There comes a time when the price is simply too expensive," he said. During his news conference, Prokhorov even delivered this famous line while telling reporters he hadn't heard from Anthony: "Maybe he sent me an email, but I don't have a computer. Maybe the carrier pigeon got lost."

Melo eventually landed in the Big Apple. And the Nets got the greatest consolation prize ever: D-Will. All's well that ends well.

4. "Brooklyn" Nets keep their name

Were they going to be the Brooklyn Dodgers? How about the Brooklyn Ballers? No wait, how about the Brooklyn Nets?

Jay-Z made the Nets' new/old name official during a news conference across the street from the Barclays Center on Sept. 26. The rapper even announced he would open up the $1 billion palace of an arena with a concert.

"Maybe one, maybe two, maybe three. I sound like LeBron," the Brooklyn native said.

Said Brooklyn borough president Marty Markowitz in his finest Brooklyn accent: "I can't wait, for those Knicks, aka Manhattan Knicks, to step out of the way for what will surely be our NBA champions, the Brooklyn Nets."

5. D-Will goes to Turkey during the NBA lockout

Williams was a pioneer during the 149-day NBA lockout. In July, Williams became the first superstar to sign a contract to play overseas when he reached a deal with Besiktas of the Turkish League.

Fifteen games and one scintillating 50-point performance later, he had his number retired by the club. Williams enjoyed his time in Turkey, and his tweets were just as enjoyable. From the terrible traffic to the fanatical fans, Williams certainly kept folks back home entertained -- and he says he's definitely going to go back.

Mike Mazzeo is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.