If the Nets Win, And No One Can Watch, Does it Count?

It’s been pretty tough being a Nets fan this season, and while I totally sympathize with why somebody wouldn’t want to watch this team play anymore, I still would like to and I can’t this week because not a single game is being televised until Saturday.

Personally speaking, I hate this.  I understand that sports are a business and there are higher “corporate” powers at all levels that are determining the television schedule, but I also think that if the Nets are legitimately serious about turning over a “new” leaf after this season in Newark and then Brooklyn, they need to stop accepting this kind of second-class citizen treatment.  It’s bad enough that the Nets have always been an afterthought on the Yankees Entertainment Sports Network (and as a Mets fan, it’s agonizing to have to hear about 27 world championships whenever I’m trying to watch a basketball game). But to be blacked out completely this week in order to make space for one of the 900 games the Yanks will play against the Red Sox this season is a slap in the face to the few Nets fans who want to see this season to completion.

So is the idea that I could just shell out $6 to watch the game on a one-day pass with NBA League Pass. I’m already dropping a ton of money each month in order to watch my favorite sports teams and to have the option to DVR those games when necessary. I should not have to shell out an additional $15-$20 at the end of the season to watch three more games.

I think what frustrates me even more is that I’m sure if the Nets were in some kind of a playoff hunt this April, some accommodations would have been made to get them on TV, somehow. I know individual games have been blacked out in the past, but I never remember a stretch of so many games consecutively since the Nets made the leap to YES. But given the team’s record this season, I’m sure the rationale was “who cares.” And I’m also assuming that somewhere along the way when this decision was made, someone with the Nets organization said, “eh, let’s not make waves.”

I know there’s something about biting the hand that feeds you, but rather than taking on fans wearing paper bags over their heads, I would have infinitely more respect for Nets CEO Brett Yormark if he publicly said something along the lines of: “you know what – I know we’re contractually bound to honor this agreement, but it stinks. It stinks that YES is bumping us like this and showing no flexibility in getting our games on the air in favor of around-the-clock coverage of the Yankees.”

Incoming owner Mikhail Prokhorov seems determined to make the Nets a winner once he takes over. In order to do that, it is imperative that he gives the green light to the front office to acquire the best players they can in free agency, to draft intelligently, and to select a head coach who will instill an organizational-wide philosophy that breeds winning.  But it’s also important that Prokhorov values the perception and branding of the Nets organization. The Knicks, in all of their losing and ineptitude, at least continue to puff their chest out, talking about the mystique of the Garden and promoting their brand with the same gusto as if they were fresh off a championship season.  The Nets need to mirror some of that pomp and circumstance, and they can go a long way in doing that, by taking a stand next season and not allowing such a lengthy blackout of games to happen again, regardless of the team’s record.