For as long as most people can remember nowadays, it’s been a mostly split battleground in New York. The New York Giants, New York Yankees and New York Rangers fans occupying the majority of New York City. New York Jets, New York Mets, New York Islanders fans fill in the Long Island and Queens areas. Only the New York Knicks managed to awkwardly fit into the middle of the Venn diagram in these modern times.
Welcome to the wacky world that is pro sports in the greater New York area.
But where does that leave the Brooklyn Nets, fresh off the New Jersey Transit? Once upon a time – and $8 million in payments later – the Nets were Long Island’s ABA team for parts of the ‘60s and ‘70s, calling Nassau Coliseum home after spending their first year of existence as the New Jersey Americans.
The NBA-ABA merger came about in 1976, and the Nets found themselves in little brother New Jersey from 1977-2012 before finally making their New York return the way they wanted to — the Brooklyn way.
But even though that Brooklyn-fueled hype still hasn’t worn off, the Nets as a franchise must make a concerted effort to become the favorites of the upcoming Long Island-Queens area basketball-loving generation the same way the Jets and Mets captured the hearts of these fans in the ‘60s.
Needless to say, it won’t be anywhere nearly as easy. The Nets don’t rep any part of New York through their name the way the Jets and Mets have the potential to. Brooklyn is plenty big all by its lonesome, but the fact is that most younger people from the hipster-populated borough were originally Knicks fans back when they didn’t have an option to love anyone else in the local area. Seeking to build an even bigger Nets fan base should be a primary goal from here on out.
Forget about hoping that winning big will take care of everything if you’re Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov. The goal shouldn’t be to just convert Knicks fans who could jump back on their blue and orange bandwagon as they quickly as they jumped off of it in the first place.
A marketing plan reaching out to the Long Island and Queens areas needs to be put into effect by the Nets’ ownership as soon as possible. And there’s no need to try being sly about it. After all, the Knicks are a division rival, what’s the harm in getting them a little ticked off?
The Nets don’t need to go this route purely out of a desire to follow in the steps of their Jets and Mets brethren. It’s more about building up a fan base in an area that already had its basketball romance. The jersey may say “Brooklyn” across it, but the outreach has to extend beyond there if the Nets want to be huge.