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Mike BarryEye on the Island

By Mike Barry
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Nets’ Island Roots

Hours after the New York Islanders announced in October that they’d be moving to Brooklyn in 2015, the New York Knicks played a pre-season basketball game against the Brooklyn Nets at the Nassau Coliseum.

The Islanders wasted little time capitalizing on the big news, with Islanders personnel handing out fliers that night to just about everyone who walked through the Coliseum’s doors, urging them to consider the purchase of 2015-2016 Islanders season ticket plans at their new home, Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. I remember this vividly because I was at the Knicks-Nets game that evening with our two older sons and reminded them that there once was a time when both the Islanders and the Nets played at the Nassau Coliseum. They knew this already, and politely declined to remind me that I was instrumental in them becoming fans of the Nets, Islanders, Mets, and Jets.

We’ve discussed in this space previously how, as the Barry boys have grown older, they’ve come to realize that losing seasons are not a sometime thing, they are with rare exception an all-the-time thing, for the Islanders, Mets, and Jets.  Nonetheless, they seem to enjoy rooting for perennial underdogs, and wondering what kind of benevolent god would allow these franchises to suffer such cruel fates, attitudes I like to think will help them prepare for whatever challenges lie ahead.

The Brooklyn Nets are a team Long Islanders can rally around, and not only because of the Nets’ Nassau roots.  Barclays Center is a brief walk from the LIRR’s Atlantic Terminal Station, which itself is a short trip from the LIRR’s Jamaica station. Those on the LIRR’s Port Washington branch need take only a 20-minute subway ride from Penn Station to get to a Nets home game.

I have been tracking the Nets on TV during the early part of the National Basketball Association’s current season, and hope to get to the Barclays Center later this month, even though the lowly Charlotte Bobcats and Cleveland Cavaliers are coming to town during the Christmas-New Year’s Day holiday week.  

The Nets are playing exciting, winning basketball, and have an eclectic mix of All-Stars (Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, and Brook Lopez), top-notch role players (Gerald Wallace, Jerry Stackhouse, and Andray Blatche), and talented misfits (Reggie Evans, Kris Humphries).  Humphries is perhaps best known for his brief marriage to Kim Kardashian but his questionable off-court decision making skills are not readily apparent in his on-court play.  

It’ll take years for the Nets to build a solid fan base in New York after spending the previous 30-plus years in New Jersey, and breaking through on Long Island will be an even taller order because comparatively few people in either Nassau or Suffolk realize how easy it is to get to Barclays Center via the LIRR.  Yet everyone knows Madison Square Garden (MSG), the Knicks’ home court, sits next to Penn Station.  

The Nets have, for the Barry household, offered a nice diversion when we might otherwise be watching the New York Islanders, who haven’t played a game this season because of the National Hockey League’s labor dispute and will soon become another former Nassau team.

 

Mike Barry, a corporate communications consultant, has worked in government and journalism. Email: MFBARRY@optonline.net