At the 2000 Draft Lottery, Lewis Katz pumped his fist as the ping-pong balls landed in the New Jersey Nets' favor. With the first overall pick, the Nets selected power forward Kenyon Martin, which permanently altered the franchise's path.
Katz, the former Nets owner, shockingly passed away Sunday when his plane crashed with six other passengers in Massachusetts. He was 72.
A man who was integral in the formation of the YES Network, Katz presided over the Nets during one of their most successful periods in franchise history. Upon the acquisition in 1998, the Nets enjoyed two Finals trips in 2002 and 2003. He subsequently sold the team in 2004.
He also maintained a controlling interest in the New Jersey Devils at one time.
Without the Nets' drastic turnaround in the early 2000's one could make the argument that the franchise never makes its move to Brooklyn. The team's success with Jason Kidd running the point made them a more attractive commodity for Bruce Ratner.
"All of us at the NBA were extremely saddened to learn of the tragic, sudden death of former Nets owner Lewis Katz," commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. "Lewis was a trusted friend and valued member of the NBA family. He was a visionary businessman who touched the lives of so many with his tireless pursuit of innovation and enterprise, as well as his deep commitment to his family, friends and community."
Katz, a Temple graduate, leaves behind companion Nancy Phillips, two children, and several grandchildren.