It seems the Nets are boring. That's what Andy Liu writes for Hardwood Paroxysm. There a lot of pretty words employed in the essay (?) to justify what are the two big Brooklyn criticisms:
--The Nets did not seek an "organic" route to relevancy but instead manufactured a marketing mayhem and
--The Nets, because of its recent moves, now populate that most arid of landscapes in basketball: the space between true contention and the permanent lottery, a purgatory previously occupied by the now less boring (for the wrong reasons) Atlanta Hawks.
Neither position is new. The former is a bit dated. It was more of an "issue" in the first year of the Nets move from the swamps of Jersey to the hipster capital of the world. The latter may very well be true, but it's often been discussed as well. We'll wait to see what the season brings, keep our counsel, restrain our excitement (we are Nets fans after all) and put our skepticism aside at least until the games begin.
A few points though about the piece. As often happens with essays like this is that they exaggerate some arguments and dismiss or ignore others.
Lets take a look at one argument in support of each criticism.
On the marketing, Liu writes,
There’s also the wrinkle of gentrification. According to a study done pairing Census Bureau geography with fandom data from Facebook (I know, perhaps not the most accurate place), the team’s most highly concentrated amount of fans were bunched in seven different zip codes all around Barclays Center. The seven zip codes also revealed the highest amount of Brooklyn’s new residents.
We've written about this survey more than once and massaged the stats in a couple of ways. We did a piece on the original New York Times story, then another on where in New York the Nets are rising, if not overtaking the Knicks and a third on how yes, there is evidence of Russian interest in a team that is owned and operated by Russians and employs two Russian players.
It is certainly true that the team's "most highly concentrated amount of fans" live in the zip codes near the arena, but is that a reflection the Nets focusing solely on hipsters or is it simple geography? Nearly one in ten people who attend Nets games do walk to Barclays Center. Brooklyn as a whole is not some hipster heaven. It is 35 percent black and 20 percent Hispanic and it is generally poor. The marketing of the team was not, and is not, directed at some hipster base. It couldn't survive that way. It's about Brooklyn's diversity. The campaign, after all, was created by Jay-Z and his partner, Steve Stoute, not Madison Avenue.
And as we've noted, that while the biggest concentration of fans IS near the arena, which IS hipster, there have been remarkable increases in Nets fandom in areas that are far from "hip." The two other zip codes where the Nets have overtaken the Knicks are Canarsie and Bedford-Stuyvesant. Check them out. Neither qualifies as "hip." They are urban in the most positive sense of that word.
Moreover, as we've noted, The Nets are also close to the Knicks in popularity in most Brooklyn neighborhoods AFTER TWO YEARS in the city and ... in a few nearby precincts in Queens as well, like Breezy Point, where the Nets are surging and are barely behind the Knicks. Breezy Point is more working class than hip, has the nation's second highest concentration of Irish-Americans and is filled with cops and firemen.
Now, on to the second argument, which is a bit less stats heavy.
Liu writes of Joe Johnson...
Everything about the team’s exterior and interior motives appear more a disingenuous trek towards relevance than a naturally born excitement emanating from actual interesting players. Joe Johnson is a superb individual player but has never once incited illuminating, even exhausting debates or aesthetically exceptional play.
Joe Johnson has "never once incited illuminating, even exhausting debates?!" Where were you when he was selected to this All-Star Game or how about when he got a $120 million contract?! And never incited "aesthetically exceptional play?!"
By every statistical --and aesthetic-- measure, Johnson is the most clutch player in the NBA, period. Here's a few examples of his un-aesthetic play at the end of games...
If you want to go back further, before he joined the Nets, here's an eight-minute compilation. And if buzzer beaters aren't your thing, try this, 29 points in a fourth quarter...
Look, we're not objective. We're Nets fans. But we tired of overwrought, tiresome essays that pass as analysis. Then again, the Spurs are boring. So maybe we shouldn't get so excited.
- The Brooklyn Nets and Boredom - Andy Liu - Hardwood Paroxysm