Monday, November 26, 2012
East River Rivalry finally begins
By Mike Mazzeo
Brooklyn Nets CEO Brett Yormark wanted his team to open up the $1 billion Barclays Center against the New York Knicks.
"I wanted the most dramatic moment I felt we could have to open our season, and creating a really healthy rivalry would be the most dramatic moment," Yormark told ESPN NewYork.com on Sunday. "TNT felt that way. The NBA felt that way, so I certainly was on board."
Superstorm Sandy wasn't. And as a result of the devastation and destruction it caused in the region, the Knicks-Nets Barclays opener had to be postponed -- until Monday night.
Finally. Let the East River Rivalry begin.
"I think tomorrow night, although it's been delayed by a couple weeks, the stage is set, and it's going to be terrific for our fans, and that's what it's all about," Yormark said.
The Knicks have been New York City’s team for a long time. They have history and tradition, something the Nets are looking to cultivate in Brooklyn.
New uniforms, a state-of-the-art arena and revamped roster have certainly gotten them off on the right foot.
But it’s still going to be an uphill battle, no?
"Listen, we've either sold out or were close to selling out every night. We're in the top-5 in merchandise (sold) in the NBA right now since April, since the transformation of our brand. So I don't know if we're fighting an uphill battle at all," Yormark said.
"Brooklyn has 2.6 million people, and I think we own Brooklyn. There’s more black and white in Brooklyn now than any other NBA team. So I think we’ve made incredible inroads. Can we get better? Absolutely. Do we want to? no question about it. And tomorrow, does it serve as a bit of a sampling environment for us? People that haven't been here, people that haven't been converted? Absolutely."
The Nets currently have 11,000 season ticket holders, and Yormark expects there to be more Nets fans than Knicks fans in the building on Monday night.
Shocking -- considering their history in New Jersey.
"I think tomorrow night we'll have a homecourt advantage, but I'm not naive to think that we're not gonna have Knicks fans here," Yormark said. "We're gonna have Knicks fans here. But it won't be like the days of Prudential or the days of IZOD Center. Those days are over."
So what exactly would an early-season win over the Knicks mean to the Nets?
"I think it’s a statement that we continue to be part of the conversation," Yormark said. "All I've said from day one is that I want to be part of the conversation."
Has the move to Brooklyn exceeded Yormark’s expectations?
"Absolutely," he responded. "It's great. We've got a chance to win every night. We've got great fans here every night that are wearing our gear. That's what we want, and thankfully we're on our way."