In an interview posted this weekend, Nets CEO John Abbamondi told Bloomberg News that while the team is still seeking that global brand, the focus is Brooklyn and its unique blend of everything from fashion to arts to basketball.
“We really want to represent Brooklyn and be authentic to Brooklyn. We’re not the New York Nets, we’re the Brooklyn Nets and there’s a difference,” said Abbamondi who’s also CEO of BSE Global, Joe Tsai’s holding company.
Abbamondi said his rationale is simple: the borough is unique and its moment is now ... just like the Nets.
“We do spend a lot of time thinking about what makes Brooklyn unique. And I don’t mean the Brooklyn Nets, but Brooklyn the borough. Brooklyn has become this global icon of fashion, sports, art, music, and it’s just this diverse melting pot of all of that. So we try to represent that and reflect that back into the world.”
Abbamondi, who had previously worked for the St. Louis Cardinals (as an assistant GM) and the New York Knicks (as an executive vice-president), cited as part of the borough’s unique nature, how fans embraced the Jean-Michel Basquiat inspired City edition uniforms.
“I think one great example of that has been the city edition uniforms that we launched this year which done in partnership with the estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat, obviously a famous Brooklyn artist, really an icon of the modern art world,” he noted. “I think —and I say this humbly — I think that uniform is something that only the Brooklyn Nets could have done. And I think it’s really authentic to what we’re trying to build and how we want to present ourselves to the world. Our fans agree. They’ve certainly responded to that uniform.”
Abbamondi also told Bloomberg that the team is trying to solidify the fan base by going young ... very young, hoping the current team will give those fans something to remember and make them “Nets fans for life.”
“We know windows of opportunity are fleeting, they’re narrow, and these players are in their prime and performing at a high level right now but things change over time. People get hurt, people get older and we really want to maximize the opportunity to win fans,” said Abbamondi.
“And for us, mostly here in Brooklyn, it means winning the next generation of fans and one of the things that our research is showing us is that when you look at young people in the borough, 8, 9, 10, 12 years old, they’re overwhelmingly Nets fans. That’s a really good sign for us. Our research also shows that it takes about 20 years for a 12-year-old to become a 32-year-old. So that’s the part where we have to be a little patient.
“We think that if we can make a deep run and give these kids something to remember this summer, that they’ll be Nets fans for life. And we hope to be worthy of that.”
Abbamondi also spoke about how Barclays Center is upgrading its look after “we ran a television show for a year, basically.” In addition to what’s already been put in place — the “Brooklyn Experience” fan shop, the new entrances, etc.,— and announced — the Crown Club which will open in October, Abbamondi said the Nets will be offering a “bunch more,” including Brooklyn-centric offerings at concession stands and “Brooklyn Toast,” a mixed drink experience.
On the basketball side, he credited Tsai with a combination of passion and willingness to invest that will serve the franchise well.
“Joe Tsai, our owner who not only has a real passion for sports and for basketball in particular that’s impossible to fake but also a willingness to invest resources to bring championship caliber basketball to Brooklyn. I think Joe gets a ton of credit there and I think our fans recognize that we’re fortunate to have him at the top of the organization.”
On the broader question of the league’s health, Abbamondi volunteered that he believes players’ activism is a positive for the league and society.
“The fact that our players care about the issues of the day, that fact they’re active, that they’re opinionated about social justice matters I think it’s a good thing. It’s a good thing for our society because these folks are leaders, but I also think that it’s good for the league because it helps us stay relevant in people’s lives beyond the court,” said Abbamondi.
“So when you look at our players, an NBA star is as likely to be on the cover of GQ as they are on the cover of Sports Illustrated, you realize that we’ve really become part of the fabric of society.”
Bottom line, of course, is bringing that NBA championship trophy to Flatbush and Atlantic.
“We want to bring world class basketball to Brooklyn. That was our main mission from the beginning. As we interpret that today, we want to win a championship. It all starts there.”