In today's New York Times (Select), William C. Rhoden (in a column entitled "Brooklyn's Team-to-Be Hasn't Found Welcome Mat") seems to be suspicious of the notion that the Nets will succeed in Brooklyn:
No one seems to be talking about how great it is to have Brooklyn’s first real professional team since the Brooklyn Dodgers. The talk centers on who will benefit from the team’s economic presence and who will lose. The Nets, as a focal point for a diverse community, have already become a polarizing force rather than the unifying entity that a sports team can be.
“Even when the Knicks are not doing well, it’s still a ticket to get,” Miller said. “The Nets went to the championship two years in a row and the place wasn’t sold out. They’re still searching as a franchise for an identity.”
Oh, he's so wrong. The only debate about the Nets in Brooklyn has been about a massive, back-room land deal with lots of creepy eminent domain and stuff. Many smart people believe it will be terrible for the borough. No one gets excited about that kind of stuff. There hasn't been anything to cheer about yet.
But in the end, that's a conversation about a stadium, a building... which in the end has little to do with what anyone loves about a basketball team.
Brooklyn has a TON of pride, people, and resources, and a shortage of borough-wide causes to rally behind. Far more people live in Brooklyn than Manhattan, and on its own it would be one of the biggest, richest cities in the NBA.
The fact that it also is in dire need of something to rally behind makes it a no-brainer. I'm totally certain that, despite the clunky introduction, and the legitimate disaffection of many Brooklynites during this process (plenty of people in Brooklyn will always hate that team, and seethe), this will be one of the most successful teams in the NBA. You will see Brooklyn Nets jerseys on people all over the world, and if they're halfway decent they'll be on TV all the time. The stadium will be filled with people screaming their brains out. As someone who once lived in Brooklyn and visits all the time, I fully expect to make the Nets my second favorite team once the move is complete.
That's no endorsement at all of the way the stadium deal is going down, but I believe it to be reality. This borough is long overdue for a team, and when they get one, they'll embrace it.