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In the battle for cool, Brooklyn Nets have already won

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Brooklyn is cool. Has been for a long time. Now, the team that represents the borough is, too.

KD pushed a lot of buttons last week when he noted that the Knicks —who he said he thought about in free agency for “a couple of seconds”— have been excommunicated from the world of cool. Speaking about the free agent appeal of the Knicks relative to other teams, Durant said...

“So that whole brand of the Knicks to them is not as cool as, let’s say, the Golden State Warriors or even the Lakers or the Nets now.

”It’s like the cool thing right now is not the Knicks.”

Or as the AP’s Brian Mahoney writes Wednesday, “The team that had trouble attracting attention while based in New Jersey until 2012 is suddenly the cool team in New York.”

It’s taken some time, but the process has been organic. Tying Brooklyn’s cool to the team now seems, if not complete, well on its way. It’s shown up in a number of ways, as Mahoney notes.

“People showed up to our press conference. My press conference the first year, it was like crickets,” said Atkinson, joking about the team’s media day last month. In fact, there were three times as many media credential to this year’s Media Day as there was last year.

“It’s a different excitement with the fans,” Atkinson added. That was evident at the team’s Practice in the Park where fans had to be turned away and even at team practices. The morning after Media Day, Mahoney notes, there were so many fans outside the practice facility for the first day of training camp that Atkinson had to drive around in the other direction, only to find more fans.

And while he’s been hurt, KD has been tearing up Twitter, battling everyone from Knick fans to analytics-driven pundits. To wit...

Not to mention the endorsement of a cool presidential candidate, Andrew Yang. Once a big Knicks fan, Yang now says that he “prefers” the Nets.

”Better than the Knicks, man,” Yang told Forbes. “The (Knicks) ownership is just too. ... too s--ty.” Yang also said he’ll be attending a Nets game soon and has already spoken with Spencer Dinwiddie.

The Nets have been quiet about ticket sales since an initial report on the dramatic increase in interest brought about by the KD and Kyrie signings. Before he left, Mikhail Prokhorov noted “With our recent signings, our expectation is that we will surpass our highest revenue marks in franchise history this year.”

One Nets insider not authorized to talk publicly told NetsDaily “there’ll be a few games where we don’t sell out.”

Of course, interest —cool— can only be sustained if the team wins. Mahoney believes that, too, is likely, quoting Taurean Prince who surprisingly is the Nets leading scorer in the preseason.

“We know how much we have,” forward Taurean Prince said. “I think that’s why the front office did a great job of putting a great team together and we know what we can do. We know what we’re capable of.”

Being without Durant, for however long, will hurt of course but with Irving and internal improvements and growth, the Nets are expecting to go beyond where they were last year.

“Obviously, Kevin got hurt, but you think about adding him again next year and how much better we’ll be with us just jelling together and guys getting better over the course of the season,” DeAndre Jordan said, “and you don’t really get opportunities like this. So we wanted to take advantage of it.”

Of course, as Mahoney notes, the Nets will face pressure ... if they don’t meet expectations and become uncool.

The Nets are slowly building, largely free of expectations and criticism — a rarity in New York — under Atkinson and general manager Sean Marks. But the spotlight will be upon them after their big summer acquisitions. Even without Durant, they’ll likely hear about it if they struggle.

Of course, there are those who will never get it, like Michael Rapoport, who two years ago seemed to have abandoned the Knicks for the Nets, then turned back again. He claimed Monday on TMZ that the “Knicks will always be cool” and that KD considered the Knicks. No he didn’t. He knows.

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