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How Nets fans are buying into the rebuild

Brooklyn Brigade

It’s the new narrative: Planning and patience over the big splash. And Unlike the “confusion” in Manhattan” as Kristaps Porzingis put it, everyone on the Brooklyn side of the East River seems to have bought in ... even the fans. So writes Harvey Araton in the New York Times Saturday

In fact, Araton quotes Kenny Atkinson on how he’s been surprised by the patience of Nets fans.

“Whether it works or not, I don’t know, but we’re on the same page,. We have the same vision on how we can get out of it. My big fear was whether the average fan was going to understand that. But, you know, there haven’t been many boos, and the fact that there has been some compassion and understanding makes me think that we don’t give the fans enough credit for what they know.”

Indeed, Kenny. It’s the same theme that Jackie MacMullan touched on a week ago, writing about how Atkinson feels about his job. “It's not the minutiae of how to defend the pick and roll, it's the pressure to please the surprisingly upbeat fans (Brooklyn averages 15,333 a game)...” she wrote. There were even 12,000 fans at Barclays on Monday to see the Thunder during a blizzard, one team official told NetsDaily.

Araton even thinks the rebuild —and the transparency about wins and losses vs. progress— can appeal to the fans. That and Knicks arrogance, of course.

Maybe the Nets have also finally figured out that the Knicks’ popular dominance of their shared market could actually work to their benefit, providing the cover of time and space to build, organically, a team that young fans can grow with.

The word has always been, you can’t rebuild in New York. Fans are two impatient, too fickle; the market is too competitive: you’ll lose your fans and your financial shirt. But it is what the Nets are doing and in the last week alone, veteran NBA reporters like Jackie MacMullan, Chris Mannix, Fred Kerber and now Araton have all painted a positive portrait of what Sean Marks and Kenny Atkinson are trying to do.

The Nets, Araton says, have a plan; the Knicks have Phil.

Without projected stars or high first-round draft picks (until 2019), they have set out to rebuild the team from Flatbush Avenue ground up.

By comparison, over in Midtown Manhattan, we can only guess what Phil Jackson’s Knicks are doing. Rebuilding? Collapsing? Tanking?

How long will the honeymoon last? Mikhail Prokhorov preaches patience to the fans. He and Dmitry Razumov privately rave about Marks. Fans ARE fickle but Nets fans are a hearty breed. Been through this before.