Wednesday, July 18, 2012

As Knicks let Lin leave for Houston, the defections to the Nets mount; does anybody care about the taint behind Atlantic Yards and the Nets' new arena?

In June 2010, new (New Jersey) Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov made a hubristic boast: ""We're going to turn Knicks fans into Nets fans."

As of last April, when Knicks fans invaded the Prudential Center in Newark, the Daily News reported,
Mikhail Prokhorov once said he’d turn Knicks fans into Nets fans. It’s safe to say none of the thousands were swayed Wednesday night in Newark.

Now the struggling Nets — 22-41 after the 104-95 defeat — are clearly facing an uphill battle for New York fan support ahead of their move to Brooklyn.
Now, thanks to Prokorov's (over)spending to assemble a strong if not championship-ready roster, and the New York Knicks' drawn-out and debatable decision to let potential star point guard Jeremy Lin (costly, but with huge upside, and not out of line with previous overspending) go to the (over)spending Houston Rockets, Knick fans are defecting.

Credit the moves by Prokhorov and his team, coupled with Knicks owner James Dolan's continued ability to confound fans (not that the Knicks won't sell out)

Also credit the convenient amnesia of fandom, even among some who should know better regarding what Daily News sports columnist Mike Lupica once called "a hustle in broad daylight by Caring Bruce Ratner from the start."

And there should be more. Wrote Net Income (aka Bob Windrem) on NetsDaily, "Expect Wednesday to feature some high-profile defections and some tasty response from the Nets' marketing types."

The reaction

Tweeted Reuters columnist Anthony DeRosa, "How many Brooklyn Nets fans do you think the Knicks created tonight?"

Tweeted Abe Emile, "Who Runs NY?'" I can hear in the back ground of 50 Cents song.... ‪#BrooklynNets‬ and NOT the ‪#Knicks."‬

Dean Landsman tweeted, "@NYKnicks manage to Linsult the fanbase. That's Linsane. Houston's gain. ‪#BrooklynNets‬ gain a zillion fans by Knicks' poor management."

Dave O'Connor tweeted, "After nearly 30 years of ups, downs and whatevers, I'm renouncing my ‪#Knicks‬ fandom and am now a ‪#BrooklynNets‬ season ticket holder."

NYU journalism prof Jay Rosen, one of those who should know better, tweeted: "The New York Knicks have divorced me as a fan. Fare thee well, Knicks. http://nyti.ms/Mj7UPr Magically, the Brooklyn Nets have arrived."

My response: "@jayrosen_nyu Just bec ‪#BrooklynNets‬ better run than Dolan's Knicks doesn't meant ‪#AtlanticYards‬ & arena not tainted. Do look beyond magic"

Lupica's take

Lupica in the Daily News is not dwelling on the "hustle":
If you are one of those who have decided the Knicks let a future Clyde or Earl the Pearl go to Houston, then you should go to Brooklyn now.

...These are the Knicks without Jeremy Lin. Carmelo’s Knicks. Woodson’s Knicks. If you decide you can’t root for the Knicks without Lin, if somehow this is what pushed you over the edge after all the other things that happened over the past 10 years, go to Brooklyn.
The "solid foundation: of the Nets

Tom Van Riper of Forbes, Flailing Knicks Set To Throw Away Lin As Nets Lay Solid Foundation In Brooklyn:
The contrast is between a (sort of) new franchise doing everything right, and a beloved established franchise doing everything wrong (as usual).

Late last week, the Nets put on a show at Brooklyn’s Borough Hall – introducing their All-Star backcourt of Deron Williams and Joe Johnson at a black and white themed party with balloons, hip hop, “Brooklynettes” cheerleaders and fighting words from Borough President Marty Markowitz (“the Manhattan Knicks had their chance”). Meantime, the Knicks were wavering on Jeremy Lin and signing a pair of 39-year-old former stars, Jason Kidd and Marcus Camby.
No qualms about Borough President Markowitz turning over his office to a "sports entertainment corporation"?

Van Riper added:
The Nets are led by a deep-pocketed owner, Mikhail Prokhorov, and a CEO, Brett Yormark, whose creative energy got the Nets through their last couple of seasons in New Jersey in one piece (among his many promotions in that moribund market: free tax return night). He’s also milked the move to Brooklyn for all it’s worth, even if it all seems a little bit phony and orchestrated at times. Nonstop press releases tout the Nets’ activities in various Brooklyn neighborhoods, along with concerts, boxing and college basketball events to fill out the Barclays Center calendar.
A little phony and orchestrated? At least someone noticed.

My comment

I commented:
By suggesting it's easy to be a Nets fan, you're assuming that most sports fans don't care about the taint on the arena project and, by extension, the Nets:
--significant subsidies and tax breaks
--a bypass of democratic process
--an extremely questionable eminent domain case
--regular deceptive statements by the likes of Ratner & Yormark
--the creation/buildup of "community" support through strategic spending
--a court judgment (waiting to be enacted) that the state and developer Forest City Ratner misled the public about the project timetable, studying 10-15 years while allowing 25 years
--a giveaway of arena naming rights (not even counted as a subsidy)
--the purchase of naming right by Barclays, which is in a bit of ethical trouble
The film Battle for Brooklyn goes into a good deal of this, and I've been covering it in my Atlantic Yards Report blog (and beyond). Such as:
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/22/sports/basketball/22oder.html
You're probably right that most fans don't care. But why?
I didn't offer the comparison, but I bet that many more fans are like New York magazine columnist Will Leitch, who said "I know I am willfully putting on blinders," and Edge of Sports/Nation columnist Dave Zirin, who notices "the socializing of debt and the privatizing of profit."

Some die-hards

Wrote Eric Goldschein in SportsGrid, as a Knicks fan who still won't change but acknowledges the lure:
Meanwhile, after years of red tape and construction delays, the New Jersey Nets have become the Brooklyn Nets, and they’ve brought a decent roster along with them. Their owner has a similarly large wallet, and unlike Dolan has the chutzpah to keep his money where his mouth is, sparing no expense to make the Nets’ inaugural season in the blooming borough of Brooklyn a success. Their logo and color scheme is Jay-Z cool. Their arena will be state-of-the-art. They are, despite their history of being from New Jersey and generally being lame, a team worthy of cheering on.

And so, for the first time, New Yorkers have a viable second option as basketball fans. They no longer have to hope (against all rational and reason) that their team will rise above its means and capture a championship. They no longer have to put up with a frustrating ownership, an organization so dysfunctional that you’d almost wish they wouldn’t win, because then they might think they were doing it right all along. They can be Nets fans, if they want to be.

And this would be the time to do it.
The question is whether fans can simply see a team worthy of cheering on or not.

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