It’s hard to root for a rebuilding team ... especially in New York City. At best, they will have won 70 games over three years when the season ends Wednesday night.
It’s hard that —while there have been good times in recent memory— those seasons have ended in disappointment or perceived underachievement, and with a new regime, progress simply takes time, requires loyalty, patience. Lots of patience.
And so, on the last home game of the season, the team gives it up for their fans.
So, prior to the Nets’ 114-105 win over the Chicago Bulls on Monday’s Fan Appreciation Night, DeMarre Carroll, the team’s leader by many accounts, opened with a monologue dedicated to the Brooklyn faithful.
Fans!!! What a night!!! Thank you all for your continued support this season. Your love and support is so greatly appreciated. We will continue to put in that #Hardwork!!! Thank you Brooklyn and #TeamCarroll fans!!! ️: @YESNetwork pic.twitter.com/zww3ht4wkZ— DeMarre Carroll (@DeMarreCarroll1) April 10, 2018
While improvements have been made, the Brooklyn Nets are still a long way from their destination, that is sustained success over several years ... and in a perfect world, at some point, an NBA Championship. But the Nets are far from that, but despite that, the strength of hope, belief and excitement helps many fans remain.
Kenny Atkinson took the time to recognize the fan love as well after the victory.
”I thought the fans have been great all year. I really want to thank them for their support,” offered Atkinson at his post-game presser, not responding to a question, but simply volunteering his unbidden admiration. “We’ve had some tough games, some good games and not so good games, but they’ve been there. I think this is the unique thing about being in New York.”
Having been an assistant with the New York Knicks between 2008-2012, Atkinson is well aware of the fandom this city provides. He says that, while no disrespect is meant to other markets, the fans of New York, in this case, Brooklyn, are like none other.
“No insult to other markets and all that but we have true, true basketball fans,” he said. “You see it, you feel it. When you talk to them after games, you walk around Brooklyn, they know the game and they appreciate the effort our guys put in, and we appreciate their patience, their understanding and their enthusiasm. I just think it’s awesome.
“I’m really hopeful that down the line we can reward them with something special, give them a gift.”
Jarrett Allen, who has grown into a fan favorite over the course of his rookie season, also thanked the fans post-game for their unwavering support throughout the process.
“The fans have been amazing,” Allen told Netsdaily after beating the Bulls, seated by his locker. “They could’ve fell off and stopped supporting us throughout the year but they stuck here until the end.”
He even offered a shout out to the Brooklyn Brigade!
”You can hear it in the crowd every time,” said Allen. “You can hear the Brooklyn Brigade – it just means a lot and we just want to show how happy we are for them.”
There were giveaways and a lot of fun throughout Fan Appreciation Night. Some tears, too. A single mom got a car, a bright new Honda.
A special moment at @barclayscenter. #HondaNets pic.twitter.com/JzUQfobJWN— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) April 10, 2018
And at game’s end, season’s end, a Brooklyn tradition continued.
A Brooklyn tradition: the jerseys off our backs pic.twitter.com/sL8oOhC8Nf— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) April 10, 2018
Not to mention a win — a winning streak even. So, everyone went home happy, chanting (organically) “Brook-lyn, Brook-lyn” as they left.
Numerically, in two seasons of “Markinson,” there’s been some progress in the face of significant injuries and a litany of close losses, specifically in this season. The wins have jumped from 21 to 28 (maybe 29) and despite the losing, home attendance and local TV ratings are up a bit over the season before they arrived.
That’s progress. Trust it.