Like a glacier cutting its way across the landscape, the Nets' move to Brooklyn from across the Hudson River has the potential to slowly carve out an entirely new landscape in the NBA's largest market.
New York is obviously no stranger to the two-team concept. But the Knicks have enjoyed quite a monopoly over basketball that none of its football, baseball, or hockey teams have seen. They have been Microsoft while everyone else has spent decades fighting for the hearts and minds of the city's fans.
Well, consider the Nets Google Chrome. And if the Knicks are not careful, they will be the Internet Explorer of New York, watching their market share dwindle faster than Antoine Walker's bank account.
The move into Brooklyn is a calculated one. Queens has the Mets. The Bronx has the Yankees. Manhattan has the Knicks and Rangers. Long Island has the Islanders. Brooklyn had... nothing. Not since the Dodgers and Jackie Robinson did the biggest of New York's five boroughs have a team of its own.
But that has changed.
Now about 2.5 million Brooklynites have a "home" team. If Brooklyn was its own TV market, it would fall somewhere just outside the top 10. That is not a bad place to be if you are a pro-sports franchise... especially if you are the most accessible of the major professional sports. With an easily accessible, state-of-the-art arena launched by Brooklyn's own local hero, and part owner, Jay-Z, the Nets did not just encroach on the New York Knicks' turf. They kicked the door down and challenged them to a brawl.
Jay Z's impact cannot be discounted. Listed as a minority owner, his impact on this entire move has been quite major. There is a reason why his face was next to billionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov's in their brazen mural in the shadows of the Garden... a mural which used the title of one of Jay Z's most successful albums "The Blueprint" in its pitch.
He IS Brooklyn to so many of the kids who buy his music. You do not have to know where the Marcy projects are to know that he is from there.
This is not just some rich billionaire buying up acres of land in their borough and plopping down a team. This is Brooklyn's own... a man who pulled himself out of desperation and built an empire... coming back home with a gift for everyone. Because of Mr. Shawn Carter's involvement, the Nets are magically, instantly, inherently Brooklyn.
Contrast this with what is happening a few subway stops away, and the timing could not be better for Brooklyn to steal some of the Knicks fans.
First and foremost, there is James Dolan, a man whose incompetence makes it nearly impossible to comprehend how the Knicks have managed any level of success under his "leadership." His love affair with Isiah Thomas is beyond mind boggling. It is like divorcing a woman who bled you dry, embarrassed you at work functions, and cheated on you with your best friend... and then pining for her return every second she is gone.
The Knicks, though, managed to escape that debacle and return to respectability under Donnie Walsh's direction. That is, until Dolan, with the background interference from his boy Zeke, managed to interfere and mess with Walsh's plan. The result was Walsh's departure and a team that has a lot of good pieces but still is not quite right.
The Knicks are tabloid back-page punch line (sometimes, a little too literally).
Basketball fans around New York are thirsty for a winner. They are thirsty to be the braggarts that Giants and Yankees fans get to be. And the Knicks are embarrassing them because every time a Knicks fan starts to talk a little trash, their team turns to garbage.
So it is all starting to lay out nicely for the Nets.
A: Much of their borough is going to take to them instantly because it is the first time people can walk around with "Brooklyn" on their heads and chests and not just "New York."
B: Their chief rivals are bumbling, even though they have some talent. Exasperated Knicks fans who have not developed the life-long loyalties will take a glance at Brooklyn.
Think of it as being married versus unmarried. The married guy at the bar cannot go for the pretty girl on the corner stool. He is married to the Knicks. He is going to go home to her and hope it gets better. The unmarried guy might buy the girl a drink, chat a bit, and see if there is any chemistry there.
C: The Nets are actually going to be a decent team. And, at the very least, they should be a high-scoring bunch, which is exciting. If you are going to woo the opposition and cement some loyalty in your own backyard, being good off the bat will go a long way in doing that.
The Nets can be a playoff team, and there is nothing quite like the playoffs to really get the fans going.
It is all right there for the taking in Brooklyn. The hard work, the big investments, the controversy, and some luck have all come together this season for the Nets to quickly grow roots in Brooklyn. Their impact on the New York market, the borough, and the NBA will be immediate and palpable.
Can the Nets take the Knicks? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below or on Twitter by using the hashtag #NetsDay.
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