It will be interesting to watch the two NBA teams in New York City this year. I can talk about putting a competitive product on the floor and player comparisons or entertainment value and possibly sight a string of metrics that speaks to the compelling Knicks/Nets storyline this year. Since I need to finish this entry before the last bite of my afternoon pancakes (Kale and Eggplant for breakfast, pancakes for lunch….#foodswitch), what I will do is make a social and pop culture analogy instead.
The Knicks, for a long time, were like the Myspace of professional basketball in NYC. There was no other option. If you were a basketball fan in the city, you only had one real, provincial choice for a favorite NBA team. Sure, you could theoretically have liked the Nets if you lived in New York, but the Nets played in New Jersey and as a man raised in Jersey City, I knew far more Knicks’ than Nets’ fans, even in the Nets’ previous home state.
So whatever the Knicks did, if you lived in the town that Marvel Superheros so routinely destroy in summer blockbuster movies, you simply gritted your teeth and dealt with it. The Rory Sparrow days of utter 80’s despair were always met with “we’ll get ’em next year”. The mug and tug Riley productions of the Nineties, including Charles Smith’s classic rendition of Big Men Coming Up Small, were painful to watch and although met with utter disdain by both the die-hard nosebleed fans and the local gentry, the options were nil.
It was similar to all the complaining about Myspace. It was a spammers paradise, with bands and promoters plastering your page with invitations for shows you didn’t want to see and parties you would never attend. People collected friends like trading cards, featuring half-naked girls, with mortgaged boobs and butts, posed in impossible positions and then exchanged them for internet fame and sponsorship dollars, which is henceforth known as the Tila Tequila alley oop.
It was an impersonal paradise, if impersonal ever really had a paradise; yet when you wanted to get laid by some stranger with a ridiculous phoneticized name, you signed in and started tossing out inbox come-on’s and posting indecent proposals on profile pages. It was a sad excuse for Social Networking.
Yet, for all the reasons you hated Myspace, there was no alternative…..and Friendster was just not an option. Note: if you’re a Justin Bieber fan, that’s not a card-carrying pedophile, then you might be too young to remember the hyper-short Friendster era
It was simply a case of Myspace being the only game in town, just like the Knicks.
Cue to 2012 and the Brooklyn Facebooks, ehhh, Nets have arrived and they offer the insane sexiness of OPTION. They’re here with a professional basketball team featuring Jay-Z playing the point owner position AND they’re in Brooklyn, which is a trendier city than Portland, Philly and Austin combined. They’ve put together a quality team on paper, who will sport redesigned, color palette-challenged unis, and have a new controversial arena called the Displacement Center (could be a more appropriate name than the Barcley Center), and more importantly, they are the new, other team.
The Nets Russian owner is hell-bent on spending money like the
Foolish Billionaire deep pocketed business man he is and won’t be satisfied until he either out “James Dolans” James Dolan or brings a NBA championship to Brooklyn the borough. Since the Knicks last championship came when Clyde Frazier ran the court instead of his mouth like he’s paid per hyperbolic word, most New Yorkers under Fifty years old probably doesn’t have an intimate recollection of it.
The mere existence of the Brooklyn Nets changes the paradigm of NYC basketball fandom. Madison Square Garden might still be considered the greatest arena on earth and Knicks allegiance runs deep with New Yorkers, but that relationship has the dysfunctional, emotional striations formed by heartache and disappointment; and from the MSG vs Time Warner row, which stripped a large swath of the city of it’s access to locally televised Knicks games. It didn’t help that the stalemate was between two uber-rich companies, with reverberating decisions being made by executives in the One Percent of the One Percent, as seen through the lens of the OWS monocle. To jettison the Linsanity phenomenon, which was the wedge that helped break the stalemate, was not helpful.
The Knicks know they’re in for a fight, they know they have to play winning basketball and win the back page of the cities tabloids….and tweaking the design/color of the Knicks uniform when, the Nets are basking in both sports and sartorial coverage for the design of their B & W uni & logo, “ain’t gonna cut it”.
The takeover of Myspace, by Facebook, wasn’t overnight. The early adopters jumped quick and the mass was initially hard pressed to bounce on Tom, who did his thing in a White Tee
Yet if you think of the sheer volume of people who left Myspace and the volume of people who began using Facebook, that shift, in perspective, was Usain-ly fast. Initially, It happened that lots of my friends were on Facebook and I was still on Myspace. I would send them messages on Myspace and never get a reply. I was then on Myspace and Facebook, playing the two like some e-lothario, even leaving the link to my Facebook profile on my Myspace page. Then one day I woke up and I hadn’t been on Myspace for over a year. It was over, just like that!
The Nets know they have nothing to lose and everything to gain. They’re set up to make money regardless of titles, which is important, especially when Ratner completes the second phase of the development plan. They’ll get a few early adopter Knicks fans but they’ll also get the fans that will put Brooklyn before anything. That will put Brooklyn, the international brand, before any other allegiance. And if the team starts winning and Jay-Z keeps winning and them uniforms keep winning and those Barclay Center concerts keep selling out and BROOKLYN keeps going hard, and Barclay Center’s celebrity row starts to megawatt hardbody……
The challenge for the heart and soul of the New York basketball fan has already started. So, if the only passing Melo does this year is after a puff puff and Raymond Felton maintains the physique of the security guard from the Kimmel show, fear not. If James Dolan confuses the Howards and trades Amare for Juwan and the rights to Stephon Marbury’s next meltdown….it’s cool. The Nets are in town and you can check in at their home games with Facebook or Four Square.