NetsDaily Off-Season Report #20

We're far away from New Jersey, worried and anxious in spite of the distance and hoping things work out for the best. So we figured to take our minds off one disaster, we'd look at another, aka the lockout, and write up some thoughts on the Nets, who as we recall are a professional basketball team that plays in the path of Hurricane Irene, when they play.

So, we look at Deron Williams' heated exchange with a fan--and why it may have taken place; celebrate Travis Outlaw Day, examine the security of Barclays Center, investigate who else is producing shows at the arena, and take a look at MarShon Brooks' very different summer camps.

Every Sunday, we’ll be updating the Nets off-season with bits and pieces of information, gossip, etc. to help take the edge off missing the playoffs, and of course, the lockout. We will rely on the Nets’ beat reporters and others who slip interesting stuff into larger stories, blogs, tweets...plus our own reporting and analysis.

D-Will to the Rescue?

There was an interesting exchange on Thursday between Deron Williams and a Nets fan, aka JerseysFuture, on Twitter.

It went something like this:

JF: why dont you be with your nets team mates ?

DW: what are you talkin about? #tweaking

JF: I'm talking about how you shouldn't leave nj but you are smh

DW: u must have some inside info cuz last time I checked I was still under contract but let me know if I am not?

JF: all im saying dont leave nj you will have a good career they invested alot in you dont stab them in the back

DW: why don't u worry about u? When the Lockout ends I will be!

JF: smh i tought you would stay with nj but no you do it for the money not for nba or basketball dont just ignore this tweet

DW: if I don't resign with the nets I'll tell them it was bc @JERSEYSFUTURE! LOL

It was interesting for a number of reasons.  It's quite rare that one of the game's best players gets involved in a heated exchange with a fan, lets a fan get under his skin, especially on Twitter.

But it also goes to an issue that has emerged in the last couple of weeks, particularly in columns by veteran NBA writers.

When Williams originally made his decision to head overseas, it was viewed as a positive by many, that he was a pioneer, a harbinger of a worrisome future for owners: top players heading overseas, making their owners nervous about the potential for injuries. 

Now, nearly two months later, Williams remains the only top player who's committed to a foreign contract.  Some like Kobe Bryant toyed with the idea and then basically pulled back.  Others like Kevin Durant said they'd wait and see, putting an arbitrary October 1 deadline on further discussion overseas.

Now, Williams' move is seen as a negative by many, even those friendly to the players.  Shouldn't all the top players stay at home and provide the leadership and solidarity needed among the rank-and-file, particularly when the middle-income players start to feel the pinch in November and December?  Isn't Williams taking a risk, being seen as someone who was putting himself first, getting his, while others sweat it out?

The answer to both questions is probably yes...and it might take some time for D-Will to recover his image if the lockout goes longer.  What does that mean for the Nets' chances of retaining him? Probably little. Our best guess is that Williams will make his decision based on who the Nets surround him with.  Williams can be a bit aloof but very focused.  If the Nets succeed in building around him, they'll be fine.  If not, they will have some 'splaining to do...and in Russian.

Happy Travis Outlaw Day!

Starkville, MS, is Travis Outlaw's hometown and residence in the off-season.  His mother is city clerk. His father was assistant police chief.  It's an Outlaw town!  And Saturday, the whole town celebrates being Outlaws. 

As Outlaw's official website notes...

Make sure you all come out to support Travis Outlaw and his cause to give back to the community that has given so much support to him throughout the years. This event will be held from 10am - 3pm. Free tee shirts will be given to the first 250 attendees.

The famous anticipated Barbecue Cookout will definitely be in effect along with events to make certain you have a fantastic time! Just to name a few of the events to be held are as follows: flag football, 3-on-3 basketball tournament, dance-off, hula hoop contest, etc. If you're a fan of food (like we all are), free food and drinks will also be served.

It's one of three summer events that Outlaw is helping with this summer: there was an elite basketball camp in July and in September, he'll be helping the organizers of Rockin' the Park, serving as a sponsor for the one-day event at the local Sportsplex, where No. 21 works out (we hope) during the off-season.

We think we'll leave it right there.

Playing the Terror Card

As the 10th anniversary of 9-11 approaches, critics of the arena are once again playing the terror card, uh, using the "security Issue" to slow the progress at the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush.  Their latest impetus is word that while the arena will have 20' wide sidewalks, the clearance between the street and edge of the arena ABOVE the sidewalks is less than 20', making the arena vulnerable to truck bombs, they claim. Also, giant stone bollards are being placed on sidewalks along the arena periphery.

While we are not going to get into the critics' motives (not in these pages anyway), we'd like to suggest a few things:

1. While critics are wringing their hands in anxiety, the New York Police Department, the nation's foremost local counter terrorism operation, doesn't have a problem with the arena's security plan, having taken a long look at plans years ago.

2. One reason the arena will be the most expensive in the world is that the developers have tried to insure the arena is, if not terrorist-proof, then resistant to attack. The arena facade is part of a "blast-resistant curtain wall" that is costing nearly $40 million.  We wrote about it here last year.

3. We can't recall a single instance where a terrorist group has targeted an enclosed sports arena with a truck bomb. Sports has been targeted on occasion, but nothing on the scale that has caused such hand wringing at Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn.  And getting back to the NYPD, let's not forget that they are the best at what they do.

Of course, no one but a new Brooklyn bloggers are paying much attention to the critics anymore.  The first phase of Atlantic Yards, with the arena, three planned residential towers and an office tower, is free of any legal restrictions and there is NOTHING on the horizon, other than what every developer faces--financing in particular, that is a threat. Not to mention that Mikhail Prokhorov is considering a much bigger investment in the overall project. (And no, we're not worried about the Hurricane Irene affecting construction, although you can be sure the critics are hoping it will.)

The Missing Dates at Barclays

The Nets have lately been saying that they have booked 163 events at Barclays Center. That's 20 or so more than have been announced.  What else have they got commitments on?  Officials aren't saying, but a photo gallery of the renovated Barclays Center Showroom in midtown Manhattan includes one showing a row of placards, one for each of the big event producers who've committed: Lagardere, who will be bringing two to three tennis matches to Barclays; Feld Entertainment, who's producing 48 family shows, including Disney on Ice and Ringling Bros. Circus; IMG, promoter of 25 college basketball and hockey games; Golden Boy, which will host monthly boxing matches; and oh yeah, the Nets, with a minimum of 45 dates; and most prominently, Live Nation. (There's a few other dates: three to five Brooklyn Academy of Music events; some ethnic programming; local high school and college sports perhaps.)

But the news, it appears, is that Live Nation, the big concert promoter, has also committed to Barclays, with the math indicating some 20 or more concerts will be held annually in Brooklyn.  No one is confirming it, but the Nets chairman, Christoper Charlier, has twice told groups that Live Nation will produce around 20 dates.  What's not news is who everyone thinks will open the arena on September 28, 2012. Jay-Z has a long term contract with Live Nation. As Jay-Z told YES Network's Chris Shearn back at ground breaking, "If that don't happen, something's wrong. I'm not doing my job."

The Islanders? Not yet, but in one of those discussions late last year, Charlier did say, "There is also thought of bringing in pro hockey games."  So the idea is not new.

Marv Happy with the Nets, But NFL Took Priority

In an interview with the Albany Times-Union, Marv Albert talks that while he was happy with the Nets and YES, the demands of NFL preparation required him to make a choice.  Albert's new deal with CBS Sports begins September 11.

"I figured I would just move along," said Albert, now 70. "I was very happy doing the NBA. The Nets were fun. I loved everybody that I worked with there. I wasn't looking to add, but I added and subtracted. Even though the preparation is more extensive for the NFL, it's 16 games and the Nets were 25."

Final Note: MarShon's Summer Camps

Marshon Brooks has been moving up and down the East Coast more than Hurricane Irene, from Atlanta to New York City to Providence, with three side trips to very different summer camps...all done with little fanfare. The first two were to upstate New York where he spoke with kids at two rural Orthodox Jewish sleepaway camps, Camp Mesorah and Camp Seneca Lake, spending more than two weeks at the two. His agent, Seth Cohen, arranged the trips.

Then, this week, it was Asbury Park where he talked and worked with kids at an inner city skills academy sponsored by the local recreation department.  The two groups of kids he spoke with are about as divergent as can be imagined in the New York area but he seemed to have fun with both.

Here's what he told a Jersey blogger about the kids in Asbury Park, a few miles south of Long Branch, where he spent the first six years of his life:

"It feels great because it gives the kids from Asbury Park a chance to see someone from the same place as them actually make it. So it lets them know if they work hard they can also make it. I love the fact that they look at me as a role model because it’s been a long time since someone has made it this far from Asbury Park."

Or as his agent notes, "Both kids and adults are drawn to MarShon."

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