By John Torenli, Sports Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
It's got all the elements of a hit cable TV series: The return of a major pro sports franchise to Brooklyn after 55 heartbreaking years, a maverick billionaire owner who once ran for the Russian presidency, but now seems obsessed with vanquishing his crosstown rivals, a hip-hop icon who has a stake in the team and also happens to be married to one of the most beautiful and talented entertainers in the world, a $100 million point guard on a mission to make the Nets a marquee franchise and, of course, the ex-husband of reality show diva Kim Kardassian.
Beginning Tuesday, Oct. 16 at 10 p.m. on NBA TV and NBA.com, Brooklynites can begin following the exploits of Mikhail Prokhorov, Jay-Z, Beyonce, Deron Williams and Kris Humphries as they become the latest "cast members" of the league's acclaimed documentary-style series, "The Association."
Season One of the Nets in Brooklyn will be the theme of Season Four of the series, which promises to provide a weekly in-depth view of the Nets' move into Brooklyn and their quest not only to establish themselves as a part of our borough's community, but also as a legitimate contender for an elusive NBA title after five consecutive non-playoff campaigns.
“I think it’s great that the NBA will be documenting our inaugural season in Brooklyn as part of The Association,” said Williams, fresh off capturing his second gold medal as a member of the 2012 Dream Team at the London Olympics.. “As we make history bringing a professional sports team to Brooklyn, fans will get to have an inside look. Our new home, the borough of Brooklyn, will provide a great backdrop for the series, and I think people are going to be pretty excited with their exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the new arena.”
The 16-time NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers, the 17-time NBA champion Boston Celtics and the Denver Nuggets were chronicled during the first three years of the series' existence on the league's cable channel, which will be available to Brooklyn residents, either through their cable provider or the internet.
Nets general manager Billy King, who spent the offseason putting together a formidable starting five of Williams, Humphries, Gerald Wallace, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez, will also play a central role in the series as he continues to try to build the Nets into "the best team in New York," as Johnson dubbed the Nets during his introduction to Brooklyn at Borough Hall earlier this summer.
“The Brooklyn Nets are honored to be selected by the NBA as the featured team in this year’s installment of The Association,” said King, an early frontrunner for NBA Executive of the Year honors. “We are very excited about our first season playing in Brooklyn at Barclays Center, and this series will document superbly this historic move for the Nets’ franchise.”
Of course, the setting is always instrumental to the success of any series, and the Nets are blessed to have the streets of Downtown Brooklyn and the state-of-the-art facility on the corners of Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues at their disposal for the historic 2012-13 campaign.
Though the regular season doesn't kick off until Nov. 1, when Prokhorov's Nets take their first shot at rival owner James Dolan's Knicks in what figures to be a sold-out arena. Nets fans, both old and new, will get a two-week headstart on the ins and outs of what it takes to build a winning franchise in Brooklyn when the show debuts.
“The Association is part of NBA TV’s commitment to deliver original programming, which provides fans with authentic access to all aspects of the game,” said Christina Miller, Senior Vice President and General Manager of NBA Digital. “We’re thrilled to have the Nets involved this year, during an historic period for the franchise, and look forward to covering them through the journey of their inaugural season in Brooklyn.”
The show will not only give fans an up-close view of the Nets themselves, but will also chronicle our borough's sporting history and feature interviews with legendary Brooklyn Dodgers as well as various celebrities from around the borough.
NBA TV's cameras figure to be rolling Friday morning, when Prokhorov, Mayor Bloomberg, Downtown real estate magnate and former Nets majority owner Bruce Ratner, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, Nets CEO Brett Yormark and several other notable guests, and presumably some of the Nets themselves, will be on hand for the official ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Barclays.
After wallowing in virtual obscurity during their final few seasons in East Rutherford, N.J., the Nets are finally about to be the most-chronicled franchise in the NBA, something the East River Rival Knicks can't be happy about as they try to retain their status as the Big Apple's main basketball attraction.
Will Prokhorov get the best of Dolan?
Can the Nets outdraw the Knicks in their sparkling new 19,000-seat arena?
Will Beyonce be a regular courtside presence at Nets games?
Can Humprhies continue to shake off the Mr. Kardassian tag with his hard-nosed, never-say-die work ethic on the court?
Will King's talent-stacked roster live up to expectations?
Can the Nets become as dear to Brooklynites as the Dodgers once were?
All these questions, and countless others, will be answered during the weekly series.
Remember, it's not TV. It's Nets TV!
In other Barclays Center-related news, plans to stage an exhibition game between the New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils at the arena on Oct. 2 appear all but dead.
Due to the ongoing NHL lockout, the league on Wednesday cancelled all of its scheduled September preseason games, as well as the 2012 Kraft Hockeyville preseason exhibition, scheduled for Oct. 3 in Belleville, Ontario.
Though the much-anticipated Islanders-Devils contest has not yet been called off, if the NHL and the Players' Association fail to reach a deal soon, it would be hard to imagine the game going off as planned. That doesn't, however, mean it can't be rescheduled at a later date, pending the outcome of the labor negotiations, which are currently at a standstill.
The Barclays is anxious to prove it can host to an NHL franchise, possibly with luring the Islanders, whose lease at the outdated Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Long Island expires in 2015, in mind.
The NHL regular season is scheduled to being Oct. 11. The last contentious labor dispute between owners and players resulted in the cancellation of the entire 2004-05 campaign.
Hockey fans can only hope that this lockout doesn't result in another lost season, or the loss of the first-ever NHL game in our fair borough.