The Brooklyn Brigade will be out in full force and full voice Saturday morning at the Nets annual Open Practice, which this year will be held at the Steinberg Wellness Center on the LIU Brooklyn campus. That’s one subway stop away from Barclays Center
Nets have officially transitioned from a win-now team to a group that is looking and rebuilding towards the future. The Deron Williams era is long over and the one year nightmare of Donald Sloan and Shane Larkin has also come to an end. Jeremy Lin has returned to New York City, but this time as member of the Brooklyn Nets.
Linsanity was fun while it lasted. Can Lin bring that same excitement to Brooklyn? After all, the Nets are coached by Kenny Atkinson, who Lin credits with being crucial to his success in Manhattan.
Alongside Lin and Brook Lopez will be young players that Brooklyn has big hopes for. Caris LeVert and Isaiah Whitehead are entering their rookie seasons, while Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Chris McCullough look to take the next step in their second seasons.
It could be a tough few seasons for Nets fans to fathom, but the Brooklyn Brigade swears they will stay loyal through good and bad times.
Dawn Risueño is one of the most loyal and respected Nets fans. Risueño is a season ticket holder who goes west with the team every season, her husband and fellow fan Richard Johnson at the wheel.
The team flies. Dawn and Johnson drive thousands of miles to support their beloved Nets.
Risueño acknowledged that it’s going to be a different looking team this year. “We did a major overhaul of our system,” Risueño said. “I like the direction of this team and want to see more. I think after the first 10-15 games you can kinda get an idea about how the vibe of the team is going.”
The Westgate Superbook in Las Vegas —often a top on the Risueno-Johnson road trip— has the Nets dead last with an over/under win total of just 20.5. Risueño is taking the over.
“I’m going out on a limb here and say we can win 25-30 games. I like the team of Lopez/Lin. I think that alone will help us win. Sean Kilpatrick playing here a full season with a healthy RHJ and CMC along with our new guys. Whitehead will be very interesting.”
Tim Palladino is a member of the Brooklyn Brigade who travels from New Jersey to watch his favorite team play in Barclays Center.
Palladino doesn't think the rebuild has a ways to go, but he thinks the Nets are headed in the right direction. “I think we haven't fully rebuilt yet but got pieces together to start it,” Palladino said.
“Adding Lin was a great move to increase attendance and help the offense score the basketball. I’m also excited to see young players like Whitehead and Beech work to make the team and help make the Nets successful.”
Palladino is also optimistically taking the over. “I believe we’re headed in a good, young direction. 28 wins,” Palladino concluded.
Henry Hall is a season ticket holder who is excited to see a change in the Nets culture. “I must say that I’m pleased with the new regime that Sean Marks is bringing to the Nets organization,” Hall said.
“Marks is building from the ground up, has stayed the course during the NBA draft and has not been enticed to try to buy a championship now like past regimes.”
As far as the product on the court, Hall is expecting a group that will show grit and guts every single night.
“I expect to have a product on the court nightly that will be ‘watchable.’ Our management is bringing people in that will play hard nightly and a coach Kenny Atkinson who is a player development guru.”
Hall is expecting an improvement from last season. “I feel the organization is building the right way for the first time since 2010. Coincidentally 2010 was my first year as a season ticket holder, this year is now my 7th and I feel we could win 33 games this year. I factor the close games that we lost last year. I feel like this team will play hard for its coach and that will help us out in close games.”
Zac Cullen is a member of the Brooklyn Brigade who like Palladino has also stayed loyal to the Nets after they left his home state of New Jersey.
Cullen has seen the ups and downs of the Nets over the years and although he’s excited to see what this season has to offer, he is aware of the struggles that this Nets team might encounter.
“I look forward to this season and I look forward to seeing this team play through ups and maybe even a lot of downs,” Cullen said.
“Over the course of the season I’m expecting we will see a team that will fight every single game, but probably won’t win many games. In this rebuild we are experiencing, it is about working with and developing what we currently have.”
Cullen believes that Kenny Atkinson’s ability to develop players will be a major factor in the rebuild. “I think Kenny is the right coach for Brooklyn. He has a great track record in developing players.”
Cullen also thinks that Jeremy Lin will make some Linsane moments this year. “The addition of Jeremy Lin makes going to games much more exciting and I look forward to the moment he is introduced as a Net. I expect a better and more lively crowd because of it.”
Last and not least is Carlos Morales, who is better known as “Trippy.” Trippy can be seen getting the Brigade fired up, his voice be heard all around Barclays Center.
Trippy likes the rebuild idea and he wants the team to bring in high character guys that are about the team and not just themselves.
“Regarding the Nets rebuild, I have a good feeling about it,” Trippy said. “Our team has finally changed its focus from win now to ‘hey, wait-a-minute’.”
“We need to get the right players that want to play here. I like the thought of this so-called rebuild, more like rebranding, if we obtain players that want to play here rather than having to overpay players to play here.”
“I want players that will put their heart into the game to give it their all to get a W. They will strive for greatness instead of sitting back and collecting checks or giving up and shaking their heads in game when a play goes wrong.”
No doubt, It will be a long few years for Nets fans, but their most loyal fans seem committed to trusting management and believing that this rebuild will lead to better things in the future.