After years of waiting and numerous delays, the Brooklyn Nets finally arrived. Nets merchandise flew off the shelves even before their jerseys were revealed. With memories of the bond the Brooklyn Dodgers once shared with the borough, its easy to claim that the Nets are now Brooklyn’s team. But, there are several problems with that scenario and for the Nets to have the love the Dodgers did there are several obstacles.
The Nets move into the borough included an ugly fight over public domain. Because of that, people were relocated from their homes, which didn’t endear them to many people. On a personal note, my own brother has vowed to never step foot inside the Barclays Center to protest the manner in which the Nets moved to Brooklyn.
The days of blindly supporting the hometown team are also seemingly a relic of the past. Fans of several other teams, such as the Celtics and Lakers, abound in Brooklyn. And most importantly, for fans that have grown up and come of age cheering for the New York Knicks, it isn’t easy to just cheer for another team.
One Brooklyn Knicks fan described the situation to me. He said, if he didn’t like the Nets when they played in New Jersey, why should he become a fan now just because they play in his borough? It’s also difficult to cheer for another team when the Knicks seem to be in midst of another renaissance period.
There aren’t any famous role models leading the cheering squad, either. Brooklyn born celebrities such as Spike Lee and Chris Rock have said that they will keep cheering for the established Knicks. At both of the games that the Knicks played in Brooklyn, there was a large contingent of Brooklyn fans cheering for the Knicks every move.
For the Nets to truly be Brooklyn’s team, as the Dodgers were, they will need to establish themselves as a consistent NBA championship contender. That kind of team would endear themselves to a young fan base who wouldn’t have a reason to grow attached to the established Knicks. If a lesson can be learned from baseball and football it is that when the Jets and Mets are not good teams, new fans flock to the Giants and Yankees. The Nets need to win, or they’ll fall into the same trap.
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