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Brooklyn Revived by Nets? The view from Flatbush Avenue, then and now

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Hulton Archive

Howie Kussoy of the Post looks at the Nets from the perspective of the 1950's Dodgers, who before they abandoned the borough were not just from Brooklyn, but of Brooklyn. He talks to the old Dodgers, like Carl Erskine and Don Zimmer, about what it was like to play for the Brooklyn fans, their loyalty to the team, their one-ness with the players, their desire to assimilate through baseball.

Zimmer who most New York fans now associate with Joe Torre's Yankees said of Dodger fans, "We had it so good. It would be pretty tough to find a better place to play than Brooklyn. You couldn’t go anywhere in Brooklyn without [people] recognizing you. I was a humpty, but I was recognized as much as anyone else. Dem Dodgers, dem dodgers. We had a lot of fun."

But it was the widow of Gil Hodges, the Dodger first baseman and later Mets manager, who crystallized the borough's hopes for the Nets.

"It’s certainly not the Brooklyn it was," said Mrs. Hodges who lives on a street named for her husband. "It’s hard to describe, it’s a whole different world. It’s very different, but Brooklyn will never die. When you got fans like you get here, it’s going to be pretty good. ... Who knows what will happen? Wouldn’t it be nice if we became champions again?"

The Nets are trying to make the connection. Kris Humphries and Jerry Stackhouse showed up at Key Foods in Brooklyn last week to distribute gift cards and even helped bag groceries. One woman, whose father owned a store near Ebbets Field, said it did indeed remind her of the Dodgers.

Meanwhile, other writers, like Scott Cacciola of the Wall Street Journal and Matt Flegenheimer of the Times, are taking note about how the Nets and Barclays Center are affecting Brooklyn today, in businesses --and cab stands-- along Flatbush Avenue.