In Sean Marks brief stretch as the Brooklyn Nets general manager, he has restored order and established a sense of organization within the Nets front office. That's the verdict from members of the Brooklyn Brigade, the Nets most active --and most loyal-- fan base.
There's no more information leaked to the public as freely as it once was, also there is a sense of stability and trust that Marks will make the right decisions to help better the organization.
Marks biggest move has been the hire of Kenny Atkinson. Marks wasted little time bringing Atkinson on board as the Nets coach. It wasn't a flashy move, but it was a smart one. Atkinson is known for his ability to help player's develop. And with young players such as Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Chris McCullough on the roster the hire makes all the sense in the world.
A lot of Nets fans hearts have been broken a lot over the years, but for the ones that have stayed loyal there is a renewed sense of hope that the tandem of Marks/Atkinson will be successful in Brooklyn.
Dawn Risueño is as loyal of a Nets fan as you can find. Dawn not only is a season ticket holder, but every year she and Richard Johnson travel to the west coast with the team. They fly. She and Johnson drive thousands of miles to cheer the team. Dawn has seen it all with this organization, although it's a small sample size, Dawn likes what GM Sean Marks has done so far.
"Marks is doing a good job so far," Dawn said. "Getting Sean Kilpatrick from the D-league was a steal and a gem for us this past season. He also made some bang bang moves too like buying out Joe Johnson, that really hit the fans hard,"
As for Atkinson, Dawn isn't going to judge him until she sees more of him. "As for Kenny, let's see what happens when he's done with the summer league and starts his workouts with the whole team. I like that he's looking at Brook and Thad to be the head guys for this new season. I LOVE that Sean, Markel, RHJ, and Chris have been working out almost everyday together this summer."
Zac Cullen is a Nets fan going back to the New Jersey days and he too is a member of the Brooklyn Brigade. Cullen's passion for the Nets has stayed true no matter how many heartbreaks the Nets have gone through over the years. Cullen is excited about the hires and he sees it as a changing of the guard which is what the Nets desperately needed.
"The moment Sean was hired it felt like the first big move in the right direction in a long time," Cullen said. We were getting someone under the radar and not a name with flashing colors. We were getting a guy with great basketball knowledge and a boat load of experience internationally and within the NBA,"
"Then when it was announced that Kenny was hired it was time to say 'out with the old and in with the new.' Again, another under-the-radar hire with a ton of experience internationally and within the NBA. And best of all, players love to play for him. So as I ride this journey rebuilding our team, I am fully confident that we have the right people in charge to do what it takes to find talent and fully change the culture to make us competitive again. Lets go Nets!"
Henry Hall has been a Nets season ticket holder for seven years now and he reflects on the all in moves that the Nets made a few years ago, then he talks about the present and his hopeful mindset for the future of the Nets.
"Being a season ticket holder for seven years(including this upcoming season) I just wanted to see competitive basketball being displayed," Henry said. Initially I was all in on the splashy moves(Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett.) However with the latter three moves, I didn't anticipate it coming at the expense of mortgaging our future away,"
"We also didn't need to go with the sexy pick at coach with Jason Kidd. It becomes frustrating looking at a team that is one solid coach, one patient GM and a couple of players away from contending in the East continue to flounder season after season," added Henry.
"Then Prokhorov did the unthinkable. He went in the totally opposite direction by hiring Sean Marks and then Marks hiring Kenny Atkinson. The Spurs blueprint for success, which didn't come over night and was cultivated over some time was set up beautifully. I can honestly say that we have a legitimate chance of being an elite team in the next three years, as long as Marks and Atkinson hold true to their values and their system for success.I'm anxiously awaiting the product on the court!"
Tim Palladino is a Brooklyn Brigade member who's also been a Nets fan since the New Jersey days. For Palladino nothing beats going to Barclays Center to catch a game and despite the Nets struggles, Palladino has stayed loyal to his team. Here's Palladino's thoughts on the Nets new coach and GM.
"I'm excited to see a culture change with Kenny and Sean," Palladino said. They are working hard to make Brooklyn in basketball work, not only by keeping franchise players, but also working on bringing home talent to the team in hopes of improving the team fast."
Cornelious Giles is another loyal Nets fan who has some hope for the future of the Nets. Giles is a lifelong fan who sees some light at the end of the tunnel for this organization.
"I think the moves we made management wise are great moves," Giles said. "Paying for a championship almost worked, but we didn't have the heart. Heart and talent apart doesn't always work. These recent moves seem more calculated and makes me even more excited for the Nets future,"
"As a fan for over 20 years I believe that this summer will make a big dent in the franchise. Marks has an amazing background coming from the Spurs mold, so you sprinkle some of that with Proky's money and I see some light at the end of the tunnel. When it comes to Atkinson I smile because we got the best assistant coach that was out. It was a sleeper pick, he's already working with the 'gym rats' and the season isn't over yet."
Then there's Ahmed Eltouny. He's also known as 'Tambourine Touny' for his tendency to rev up the Brooklyn Brigade to the beat of his drums at Barclays. Eltouny isn't sure what to expect from Marks and Atkinson, but he's hoping that the two can change the culture in Brooklyn into a winning one.
"With Sean Marks I'm hoping to finally have a complete GM," Eltouny said. In the past 15 years we've had two major GM's: Rod Thorn and Billy King. Thorn was an absolute shark when it came to trades, but he would regularly produce very poorly on draft day,"
"Conversely, King was excellent with the draft, his trades however were abysmal. I'm hoping with Sean Marks that we finally have a complete GM who excels in drafting, trades and free agent signings. With Atkinson, I'm hoping for a coach that's both respected and loved by the players. I'm hoping he brings chemistry and cohesion to this group, teaches them the game and makes everyone play to their full potential," he said.
There are concerns for Eltouny.
"I think it's 50/50 whether they succeed or fail though. They're considered great simply by association (with the Spurs), but neither have a concrete resume that blows you away. We've got Marks and Atkinson in here and letting them show what they can do as opposed to times in the past where we'd hire a coach and say 'we've seen what you can do, now do it here.' With the players we have right now, it's a much better idea to go in with no expectations, let the guys play through their growing pains and try to build a sustainable culture here in Brooklyn."
No expectations are of course easy to meet, but a common theme that seemed to be prevalent in most of these fans responses was hope for the future, maybe even irrational hope. Once in Brooklyn, the focus was on winning right now and a championship or bust mindset. Boy, have times changed ... and maybe for the better.