I feel like there were two different types of Nets fans this season. One type dominated Twitter, started Dwight Howard or Deron Williams trending topics, and if my memory serves, were called out by NBA reporters after the Dwightmare as “annoying.” From my angle, tuning into social media, reading tweets and news stories break, it seemed like Nets Nation extended across the country. It seemed like people wanted the Nets to do well. Of course, these “fans” could have been nothing more than potential bandwagon jumpers once a D-Will/Dwight combo formed, but in the online community, it appeared that the Nets had respect and support.
So, you’d expect that same kind of love in the live environment. And you’d be way off. The Prudential Center attendance ranked as the lowest in the league. The games that sold out — Heat, Clippers, etc. — were mostly full of fans cheering for the opponent. My two trips from central PA to Newark left me sitting in empty rows, reminiscent of the DIII basketball games at my college.
What happened to the support? Where was the love? I guess the blame could be spread from the fact that the team was leaving, that the product was lousy, or that the city isn’t among America’s most pleasant (sorry, Cory Booker). But Nets fans have always been this way, even during their back-to-back trips to the NBA Finals. They’ve never been known for their impressive game-day crowds.
The good news is that the Nets are no longer in New Jersey, and the Brooklyn merchandise is flying off the shelves. How many of these buyers will end up rooting for the Nets, we won’t know until game one. I do find it interesting how well the gear is selling, especially given the lack of Nets support during the New Jersey era. But what’s important is that the team has a fresh start, and they’re taking advantage of it.
I wish I could grade the fans highly, especially after a season’s worth of Twitter love and in the comments on our site. It’s obvious that there is a dedicated bunch, a group I consider myself to be heavily involved in. But, a fanbase needs more than just the guys who watch every game. And in that sense, Nets fans have failed us.