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Former Net Tim Bassett passes at 67

Tim Bassett, a role playing power forward who spent parts of five seasons with the Brooklyn Nets organization in the 1970s, has died at the age of 67.

Tim Bassett, a power forward for the New York Nets and New Jersey Nets — forerunners to the present-day Brooklyn Nets that bridged the franchise’s ABA and NBA years — has passed away at the age of 67.

Bassett played for the New York Nets in their final ABA season, 1975-76, and for three full seasons and part of another with the Nets on both Long Island and in New Jersey from 1976-79.

He was a physical role player and a presence on the inside at 6-foot-8 and 225 pounds — bulky for that era — and played three seasons in the ABA and four in the NBA before spending his final two professional seasons in Italy.

Bassett’s family confirmed his death on Bassett’s Facebook page.

Bassett was a key reserve for the Nets’ 1976 ABA title team and averaged 5.8 points and 5.7 rebounds in 25 minutes per game in the 1976 ABA Finals victory over the favored Denver Nuggets, including going for 12 boards in 23 minutes in a key Game 3 victory at Nassau Coliseum.

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Bassett came to the Nets in September 1975 as part of a restructuring by the Nets, who had won a franchise-record 58 games in 1974-75 before being stunned in the first round of the playoffs by the youthful Spirits of St. Louis in five games.

The team traded stalwart center Billy Paultz and All-Star power forward Larry Kenon to the San Antonio Spurs and flipped one of the players acquired in those deals, guard Bob Warren, to the San Diego Sails to get Bassett, who played his first two ABA seasons with San Diego.

After averaging 4.8 points and 6.3 rebounds in 21.3 minutes per game during the regular season for New York, Bassett played a bigger role in the playoffs, averaging 24.0 minutes with 6.3 poiints and 7.2 rebounds a night.

He had his best statistical season in the Nets’ first NBA campaign in 1976-77, moving into a starting role and averaging 9.0 points, 8.4 rebounds and 1.3 steals in 32.1 minutes per game.

Never a great shooter, Bassett shot 39.9 percent overall and 59.3 percent from the foul line during his five seasons with the Nets, who released him in December 1979.

He caught on briefly with the Spurs in March 1980 and came off the bench for them in five late-season games and three playoff games before heading to Varese in the Italian LBA for two seasons.

Bassett was a native of Washington, born in the District of Columbia on April 1, 1951, and graduated from McKinley High School in D.C. before playing two seasons at the College of Southern Idaho — a junior college — before transferring to the University of Georgia.

At Georgia from 1971-73, he was one of the first blacks to play in the Southeastern Conference.

He was selected by the Buffalo Braves in the seventh round of the 1973 NBA Draft, but opted to sign with the San Diego Conquistadors in the ABA, who had tabbed him in the second round of the league’s supplemental draft.

As a rookie, he played under coach Wilt Chamberlain in San Diego — a one-year experiment that resulted in assistant coach Stan Albeck doing the bulk of the coaching — and played two years with the Conquistadors, who were renamed the Sails before the 1975-76 season and folded after just 11 games.

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Bassett later ran The Back Room in Manhattan and was profiled in a 2009 New York Times piece about his career and post-basketball life, which included volunteering with a project called Heroes & Cool Kids that partners with schools in the New Jersey-New York metro area.

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