Monday, June 18, 2007

At the street fair, FCR and the Nets play pretend

Wandering by the Forest City Ratner/Nets booth yesterday at the Seventh Heaven street fair in Park Slope, I was struck by some examples of omission and misdirection.

First, there was no attempt to promote Atlantic Yards, the project. (Is massive Miss Brooklyn, which dominated the cover of Brooklyn Tomorrow, just imaginary?) There's nothing to sell, now, and Forest City Ratner must recognize that the neighborhood is more likely wary of or opposed to the project.

Also, a promotional card for the Barclays Center claimed that "history will be made in Brooklyn in 2009" even though the likelihood of the arena opening by that date is low, as even Forest City Enterprises executives have acknowledged.

Notably, a free keychain with a rubber basketball offered only "Brooklyn" as a logo, with no mention of the team name. (For the purposes of the photo, I placed the keychain on the card.)

I haven't been tracking keychain offerings steadily, but the last time I picked up a keychain, in January 2006, it boasted both "Brooklyn" and "Nets."

Since April 2006, there's been public discussion of a name change for the Nets. Given the keychain trend, I think it's safe to assume that a name change is more likely than not.

(Albert) King and Jason Kidd

There were two hoopsters present yesterday, though only one in person. Brooklyn native and former Net Albert King offered a live link to professional sports. A poster of star point guard Jason Kidd beckoned fans to buy season tickets.

Albert King became a Nets spokesman after his brother Bernard, a fellow retiree who was a bona fide NBA star, was accused of beating his wife and became a p.r. liability. Kidd has also been accused of attacking his wife Joumana, as stated in her divorce filing. And Kidd was arrested in the past for hitting her.

Neither Kidd nor Bernard King did time. King attended marriage counseling to avoid battery charges. Kidd pleaded guilty to a spousal abuse charge in 2001 and was ordered to attend anger management counseling.

"The players are terrific," principal owner Bruce Ratner told the Times Magazine two years ago, well after Kidd's first scrape with the law. "They are of good character." (A poster of Ratner from that Times Magazine interview appeared behind the Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn table yesterday at the street fair; the DDDB and Forest City tables were more than ten blocks apart.)

Role models

When it comes to sports figures as role models, I think on-court performance counts the most. Still, if the Nets are going to use such an off-the-court yardstick, it's hard to see much difference in the way Bernard King and Kidd treated their wives. The difference, apparently, is that ex-ballplayers are easily replaceable and star point guards are not.

(At right, a page of somewhat hyperbolic warnings pasted on the Ratner poster. Also pasted on were the "lawsuit" stickers left over from the "Pin the Lawsuit on the Ratner" exercise last month at the Ratnerville Singout. Does Ratner kneel to money? Well, he certainly recognizes its controlling importance. He told the Times Magazine, regarding the Nets purchase, "Like so many things in life, it was just a matter of money.")

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