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Bringing Brooklyn Together - Can Nets Mimic Dodgers?

Bruce Bennett

In the 1950's Brooklyn had a different ethnic mix than it has today. It was more European, African-American. It's now more Asian, Caribbean, Latin American, even African. In fact, more than half the borough's population was born elsewhere. Now, as then, many in Brooklyn hope that just as a professional sports team can bring a diverse population together. As the Dodgers did back then, can the Nets can do the same now.

Rick Maese of the Washington Post writes Sunday about the challenge the Nets will have, but that with Brooklyn now a brand, an idea, the team, the franchise, has a golden opportunity. "It was the unifying force," Roger Kahn, author of "The Boys of Summer," about the Dodgers told Maese, when asked about the Dodgers move. "Italians, Jewish, everyone gathered around the Dodgers. Think of a great oak tree falling and when it’s down, there’s a lonesome place against the sky."

Julie Golia at the Brooklyn Historical Society asks, "Will the Nets have that ability to draw together the diverse population the way the Dodgers did?"

Certainly the Nets are trying, with a history of ethnic nights and visits by the team to locations around the borough. "The chemistry between our crowds and our players, we still have a ways to go," Avery Johnson said. "We’re not Miami or the Lakers where we’ve been in the building for a long time. We’re still learning. It’s still a feel-out process."

A few more nights like Friday night, with a few more "Brook-Lyn" chants could go a long way toward reaching that goal.