As the Nets franchise tries to put their past in New Jersey behind them, they find themselves in a situation that can only be described as new. Sure, they're keeping their old name, going back to their old city, staying in the same division and competing against the same rivals, but there are many things that will change on their own for the Nets as they move to Brooklyn.
Putting the team within the five boroughs of New York City has made this old rivalry with the New York Knicks a classic, "this town ain't big enough for the two of us," territorial battle. The Nets do have their long-standing ties to New York, but everybody in the city knows that NYC is Knicks territory.
Now this may never happen, and if it did it more than likely wouldn't be permanent or change the hegemonic view in NYC, but the Brooklyn Nets have a chance to take over New York. The "takeover" wouldn't consist of dethroning the Knicks, but an extreme, if possibly temporary takeover in the media (nationally and locally) and attention in New York.
I have compiled five ways in which the Nets can launch a full blown attack on the NBA, NYC and the media. In order to build a good, local, "take the train to the game," fanbase the Nets must do these things quickly and simultaneously.
Yes, you're in Brooklyn now. Yes, your part-owner is one of the most famous Brooklynites ever. But nothing short of Jay-Z himself, going door to door handing out free hot dog coupons is going to get a good local fanbase to the game if they're not going to see a good basketball team.
As far as attendance is concerned, the beautiful thing about having an easily accessible stadium in one of the highest populated cities in America, is that people will show up just because it's convenient. Games against the NBA's elite teams will more than likely be sell outs for many years to come in Brooklyn. But, you don't build a fanbase when people come to watch the other team.
The idea behind trying to take over a city with good players is the same idea that the Los Angeles Clippers had with "Lob City." For the Nets, this might mean re-signing Deron Williams or picking up another big name player.
Perhaps a certain big-name center from Orlando?
Even though they were already in the same market, the Nets are going to have to learn how to be the big dogs in the media capital of the world. The Knicks make headlines for an abundance of reasons, not all of which have something to do with basketball.
The Nets are almost on the same page as the Knicks. They have their own version of Melo-drama with Dwight Howard and of course the D-Will saga continues through the offseason. But they need their Jeremy Lin or Tim Tebow-type success story if they really want to be at the forefront of the media.
The people of New York are heavily influenced by their local media and this can mean the beginnings of a strong local fanbase.
One thing that is important for the Nets to do is keep the fans they already have. In the 36 years the Nets spent in New Jersey, they built a nice local fanbase in an area just outside of New York City. This is something they have to do all over again, but this time on Long Island.
The beauty of the Nets' new stadium, the Barclays Center, is its location and accessibility. Numerous public buses or trains, including the Long Island Railroad stop right on Atlantic Avenue near the Barclays Center. The stadium is also easily accessible from the Long Island Expressway. One thing the Barclays Center has that Madison Square Garden does not is a comfortable amount of parking.
If the Nets retain their fans from New Jersey and build a fanbase in Long Island, they would have great fans on either side of the city and the middle would have to take notice.
If there is one thing people in New York City understand, it's pride. Especially when it comes to local pride or neighborhood pride. What the Nets really need to do here is win over the borough of Brooklyn. If the Nets are ever going to truly become the apple of this city's eye, they are going to need to control Brooklyn.
Brooklyn is home to over 2.5 million people, which makes it the most populated borough in the city. If the Nets can instill some neighborhood pride into the hearts of the locals, then they have just found a great place for a large fanbase.
Brooklyn hasn't had a professional team with its name on it since baseball's Brooklyn Dodgers left in 1957. In 2001, baseball came back to Brooklyn when the New York Mets moved their minor league team to Coney Island. This small-time ball was met with open arms in Brooklyn, proving that a largely populated city that loves its sports can become a good sports town.
Putting on a good show is a great way to attract a good fanbase. Inside jokes and quirks in the stadium at home games are great ways to get the local fans out to the games. Whether it's throwing rats on the ice for the Florida Panthers or waving around the "Terrible Towel" at Pittsburgh Steelers games, having a fun thing that fans can claim as their own is a good way to build a fanbase.
Unfortunately for the Nets, they may actually need a gimmick in order to draw people out. Most losing teams do.