The pre-game punditry from the uninitiated was not surprising. "No one is here!" was the rant on Twitter. The lower bowl of Barclays Center was, as is often the case, nearly empty just before the opening horn. It happens, and anecdotally, there appears to have been both subway delays and traffic jams outside the arena Saturday.
By the end of the game, as is also often the case, the place was rocking, and Nets and Hawks players alike credited the crowd with Brooklyn's success.
Beyond that, however, there was the question about whether the playoff series was attracting much attention, particularly in New York, where the Subway Series was being played a few subway stops north of Barclays Center and the Islanders were trying to avoid closing Nassau Coliseum ignominiously a few LIRR stops east.
Fred Kerber, who covered the team in New Jersey as well as Brooklyn, asked that larger question, Can the Nets, no matter what they do, garner the interest of New York fans beyond Brooklyn, particularly without a captivating star, a player like a Jason Kidd or a Vince Carter? He doesn't think so, and enlists, among others, a former Net, Kerry Kittles.
"There’s no real stars on that team," said Kittles. "They don’t have an exciting style. The Eastern Conference is not an exciting style. A great example is that the team with the best record in the East is Atlanta. They play team ball but exciting? C’mon." He also notes that Atlanta doesn't exactly play a scintillating style.
Kittles blames, in part, the Nets marketing strategy of emphasizing place over person. "I don’t know that they ever marketed the team the right way. They marketed ‘Brooklyn.’ "
Of course, the next few games will determine the real level of interest in the team. A run against the East's best team would help. Nothing beats winning. Well, that and the end of the Subway Series and the Islanders run at The Barn. As they say in the news biz, only time will tell.
- Nets are in the middle of city’s quietest playoff run - Fred Kerber - New York Post