MarShon Brooks has become a lot of fans' favorite Net this summer and for one very good reason: he's connected with them, been accessible to them, and been willing to share what he's feeling with them. Not just about basketball, but about being a 22-year-old ready to embark on a career that's stalled because of a bad economy.
He's a prolific tweeter, not unlike T-Will and CDR but unlike them he doesn't use it to relentlessly complain about life, offer love advice, confront fans or pick up babes. He'll retweet birthday wishes and other fan requests, let people know repeatedly how much he appreciates them and the joys of being an NBA player, like getting a locker with your name on it. He'll also joke about a lack of income.
Here's a sampling of his tweets expressing appreciation to Nets fans, in reverse order, starting with Saturday and going back to Draft Night...
"It's so much love in #netsnation"
"#netsnation all day"
"I love my fans bro, they make the world go round!!"
"#Nets r rising."
"Just wanna take a second to thank god for choosing me to play this role in life! I really appreciate it..."
"I'm meeting HOV tomorrow"
"So happy to be a #net, with that being said! It's def a chip on my shoulder.."
"I really appreciate all the love.."
It's not just about the Nets, either. He's kept fans up to date on his travels and plans ("Finishing school this fall at PC...."), his workout regimen ("I'm really in ny in a park shootin at 8am" and "Just got some shots up ...."), what seems to be his love life ("Told her she take me back, I'll be more supportive..." and "I hate to see her go, but love to watch her leave..."), his grandmother's exasperation with him ("'get out my damn face marshon, tired of yo ass!!! The damn nets can have you' -grandma Brooks lol"). Not to mention his commentary on the Casey Anthony trial ("she was in the club, chucking up the dueces in a pic the night after her daughter died! That's enough evidence that she played a role"), and a retelling of how his flight was delayed because a large woman got stuck in her seat ("bro they just said, 'we gotta take 4 ROWS off the plane, then put em back in smh")
And of course, there was also his dispute with Deron Williams over his Nets T-shirt, which ended with an exchange of personal messages, and then an attempt to resolve it in Chicago. It's all very human and seems very legitimate.
Some may think it's about marketing, good business, but two events, one witnessed by NetsDaily, the other by the guys at BrooklynBound suggest he enjoys fan interaction...no matter what the medium or venue.
After his 48-point outburst at the Nike Pro-City, he stuck around to autograph every scrap of paper, every uniform jersey thrust his way. (His agent, Seth Cohen, did find a Nets fan wearing a No. 9 jersey with the word "Brooks" papered over "Yi" and subtly pushed him to the front of the line for photographers to get the money shot.)
BrooklynBound's Cory Bernstein described Brooks in the hours before he was drafted...
True story. Before me and my friends got to our seats last night, we went to get some extremely overpriced and crappy food. While we were getting ketchup, we saw the shadow of a tall guy in a suit. Immediately, we recognized him as MarShon Brooks. Most players at the Draft would just continue to walk by people yelling their name and asking for autographs, but Brooks was the complete opposite. He politely said hi to my friends and even broke a smile and nodded when my friend Jonah, a Knicks fan, told him he wanted to see him play in New York.
Little things, even in 140 characters, matter to fans...particularly those frustrated by a lockout and looking for any connection to their heroes. Brooks gets that, gets the frustration, gets the connection. It will serve him well.