From intellectual to fan: Reihan Salam's Brooklyn journey

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Reihan Morshed Salam is a conservative columnist and thinker, a familiar face on Bill Maher and Chris Matthews as well as conservative talk shows. He is also a Brooklyn native, born of Bengladeshi parents.  Before the Nets began their long trek from the swamps of New Jersey to the "beautiful alien vessel" as he calls it, he had little interest in basketball.  As the Nets moved closer, he came more immersed in the literature of hoops. Even when attending his first game last season, he brought along some "reading material," not further described, in case he got bored.

As he writes for ESPN's TrueHoop Saturday, he didn't have to worry. The game was fun and he wasn't quite hooked, He enjoyed the game and arena experience --"the food was excellent"--.but he did sneak a peek at his "reading material."

Then, can the off-season, which brought more and more headlines, Even he knew about Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. "Luring Andrei Kirilenko and two and a half legendary Celtics made the Nets’ Russian paymaster look like some kind of Svengali," he notes. Then, he writes, he became interested in the players and individuals which deepened his experience.

"I couldn't help but root for them on a personal level," he writes. "When Shaun Livingston, who suffered an injury that should by all rights have been career-ending, played exceptionally but unflashily well at the start of the season, it occurred to me that it must have been a pretty big deal for him. When he had a slump, I felt the sting. And when he came roaring back during Deron Williams’ most recent injury spell, I was happy to see that Livingston's feisty, intelligent play wasn't a fluke."

Bottom line: Riehan Salam, intellectual, writer and Brooklynite, is now a certified, bona fide Nets fan. "We’re sharing in this crazily intense collective energy. It is weird, and it is glorious. When I'm not at the games, I’m checking the score. And when I go to the games, I’m leaving the reading material home."

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