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Bellowing Markowitz welcomes "Brooklyn's Backcourt" at pep rally, hypes rivalry with "Manhattan Knicks", goes out on weird anti-temperance limb

Funny how these things go. When the arena developer gets an extra $105 million in subsidies, loses a major lawsuit, and squeezes the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for a sweeter deal, the news is presented parenthetically, at best.

(L-r) Amy &  Deron Williams; announcer David Diamante; Joe Johnson
and girlfriend Kayla; Avery Johnson; Marty Markowitz; Brett Yormark;
photo by Kathryn Kirk, Borough President's Office
But when Borough President Marty Markowitz holds a pep rally at Borough Hall for "Brooklyn's Backcourt"--one of whom (Deron Williams) was halfway out the door less than two weeks ago, and the other (Joe Johnson) with an albatross contract in Atlanta--he and the team pull out all the stops, with cheerleaders and posters, and the Nets' Experience van, and the cameras and scribes come out in force.

And so did Brooklynites, 1,000 according to a couple of media reports, 2,000 according to the New York Post. There were several hundred people who seemed like genuine fans, cheering the ballplayers and responding to Markowitz's time-tested diss of the "Manhattan Knicks."

But there also were buses of kids from rec centers lured by free t-shirts ("Brooklyn's Backcourt," said most, though there were an unfortunate few with generic Nets shirts advertising, as well as a good number of lunchtime hangers-on.

On video

The video from the New York Daily News, below, captures the contrast between the relatively corporate Williams and Johnson, in suits and measured tones, and the frenzy of the short-sleeved Markowitz.

"We're really excited about the team we have this year, and the team that [GM] Billy [King] and [coach] Avery [Johnson] and our owners have put together for us," Williams said, actually not all that excitedly. Johnson, as befitting a player who finally landed at a competitive team where his contract isn't a problem, stated, "This has been a first-class organization thus far."

"So when the Brooklyn Nets hit the court," Markowitz declared, "our borough can banish forever the ghost of Ebbets Field."

Actually, the video doesn't quite capture all of Markowitz's frenzy or exactly how far he went out on an anti-temperance limb, not the wisest choice, given the scads of schoolkids.

Starting at about 2:00, he made a strained 1986ish effort to "tell you the difference between Brooklyn and Manhattan," the latter "prim, proper, classy," drinking a string of high-end wines and liquors, such as Dom Perignon.

"But lemme tell ya about Brooklyn," the Borough President bellowed, rousing the crowd with that identifier. "We love our Brooklyn liquor," he said listing several more presumably down-to-earth libations, including Hennessy Black and Courvoisier.

"We're scrappy. We're in your face," Markowitz continued. "We wear our hearts on our sleeves and we're not afraid to speak our minds. If we love you, you'll know it. And if we don't, you'll know it even more."

No wonder Nets beat writer Tim Bontemps of the Post tweeted:
Marty Markowitz is about to explode as he's rattling off reasons to like Brooklyn and the Nets. Joe Johnson seems baffled by him.
Photo from Brooklyn Nets Facebook
Oh, and early on, Markowitz declared developer Bruce Ratner "my real lost brother."

Rounding up the coverage

The New York Daily News, Joe Johnson says Nets ‘definitely’ the best team in New York as Brooklyn declares all-out hoops war on Manhattan:
Standing in front of about 1,000 fans who showed up to celebrate Deron Williams and Joe Johnson at a pep rally outside of Borough Hall, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz got down to business — and insults.

“For nearly 40 years the Manhattan Knicks have shown they can’t bring a championship to New York, so it’s going to take the Brooklyn Nets to get the job done,” Markowitz said. “So move over Manhattan — enough air balls. You had your chance.”

...“Now that the Barclays Center is in town, the national basketball spotlight is focused on Brooklyn’s big stage and Madison Square Garden just doesn’t have the same sparkle anymore,” said Markowitz, comparing it to the old rivalry between the Brooklyn Dodgers and Yankees. “By the way, for any Brooklynites still rooting for the Manhattan Knicks: as of November and on, I’m giving you fair warning: it’s treason to support the outer borough’s team over our Brooklyn Nets.
The New York Times, Tough Talk From Nets at Brooklyn Rally:
Officially, Friday’s pep rally on the steps of Brooklyn’s Borough Hall was dedicated to Deron Williams and Joe Johnson, the newly united All-Stars who were introduced as “Brooklyn’s Backcourt.” Unofficially, it served as a shot across the bow of the city’s other N.B.A. franchise.

“For nearly 40 years, the Manhattan Knicks have shown that they can’t bring the championship home to New York City!” Marty Markowitz, the Brooklyn borough president, bellowed to a crowd of about 1,000. “So it’s going to take the Brooklyn Nets to get the job done!”

Williams, Johnson and Nets officials could only smile sheepishly. The Nets know they are not contenders yet, but they made a leap in the right direction over the last two weeks.

...The crowd cheered at every mention of the word “Brooklyn” and roared when Williams and Johnson appeared between two columns at the top of the Hall’s marble steps. Some fans were draped in official black-and-white Nets apparel. That sea was broken by a lone patch of orange — the crown of a Knicks cap.
The New York Post, with a headline that both overstates and overgeneralizes, 2,000 screaming fans pack plaza outside B'klyn Borough Hall for Nets:
Roughly 2,000 screaming fans and intrigued onlookers today – many armed with camera phones -- packed the public plaza outside Borough Hall and spilled onto Court Street for a gala celebration introducing the Nets’ new All-Star guard tandem of Deron Williams and Joe Johnson.
Borough President Marty Markowitz said the only time he’s ever seen the plaza – which is routinely used for public events – more crowded was as a youth in 1955 while attending a celebration honoring what would be the Dodgers only championship in Brooklyn.
“This demonstrates just how hungry Brooklyn has been for a professional sports team,” said Markowitz, who joked earlier that any Brooklyn resident who remains a fan of the “Manhattan” Knicks would be guilty of “treason.”
Barclays Center/Nets CEO Brett Yormark said he was “overwhelmed” by today’s turnout and the support fans have especially shown the past few weeks.
Here's a report from NY1.


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