By John Torenli, Sport Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Billionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov has long insisted his Nets want nothing to do with emulating their East River rivals, claiming the Brooklyn franchise would much rather follow the path of the 16-time NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers than the two-time title-winning Knicks.
Of course, this was during one of the Russian metal magnate and former presidental candidate's numerous swipes at his nearest competitors.
But judging from the look of the Nets' brand new herringbone-patterned floor, revealed at the Barclays Center Monday by team CEO Brett Yormark, Prokhorov may be looking to the 17-time champion Boston Celtics for inspiration.
"When you turn on the TV and you turn on a Celtics game and you look at that court, it's a parquet that has become very recognizable," Yormark said. "We want this to be the same -- it's our version of the parquet. I think it truly delivered against all of our expectations."
Of course, the Celtics' parquet became an American landmark -- it was actually installed at the TD Garden once the historic Boston Garden was demolished -- mainly because the likes of Red Auerbach, Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, Larry Bird and Kevin McHale kept hanging championship banners over it.
The Nets, still seeking their first NBA crown since moving over from the defunct ABA in 1977, hope to build a legacy of their own beginning Nov. 1, when they host the Knicks in the first game of the 2012-13 season, markng the return of a major pro sports franchise to Brooklyn after 55 long years.
"It's surreal to think that the court's down, that the building's almost completed," Yormark said. "It's been a long journey, but I think you can fairly say it's well worth the wait. I think Brooklynites, all our key stakeholders, owners, management, all of our employees are really going to be pleased when they see the court and the finished product here. It's spectacular."
The Nets' new home court consists of 240 panels, each measuring 4-feet wide, 7-feet long and 185 pounds. It took two weeks to construct, utilizing specialized milled lumber, and will take up to four hours to assemble before games.
The team's logo, a basketball emblazoned with a 'B' and encircled by "Brooklyn, New York" appears at center court, and the area in front of the home bench is stamped with "BROOKLYNNETS.COM" to direct viewers to the team Web site. On the away side, it reads "@BROOKLYNNETS", a reference to the official Twitter account.
"The vision all along was to have something that was truly identifiable and unique and when people turned on their TVs at home, know they were in Brooklyn," Yormark said.
The Nets made it official Wednesday,.signing power forward Andray Blatche, projected to be center Brook Lopez's backup in the middle, to a one-year deal. The deal is rumored to be worth up to $1.1 million if Blatche makes the roster out of training camp, but the Nets did not disclose terms of the agreement, as per team policy.
Blatch, a seven-year NBA veteran, played in 26 games for the Washington Wizards in 2011-12, making 13 starts. The 6-foot-11Syracuse native averaged 8.5 points and 5.8 rebounds in 24.1 minutes per game, but missed 40 games due to a calf injury.
On Thursday, the Nets signed small forward Josh Childress, formerly of the Atlanta Hawks and Phoenix Suns, to a similar one-year pact in an attempt to give forward Gerald Wallace a breather during the 82-game grind of a regular season. Childress tweeted Tuesday that he was "Looking forward to the opportunity in Brooklyn". (https://twitter.com/JChillin/status/245632125397762049).
After an offseason that included the re-signing of Deron Williams, Kris Humphries, Lopez and Wallace, coupled with the acquisition of six-time All-Star shooting guard Joe Johnson, the Nets enter 2012-13 with expectations of reaching the playoffs for the first time in six seasons.
General manager Billy King, an early candidate for NBA Executive of the Year honors, has done a good job of filling in the blanks surrounding arguably the best starting five in the star-crossed history of the franchise.
In other Nets news, individual home game tickets for the team's inaugural season at Barclays Center will go on sale to the general public on Monday, Sept. 24 at 10 a.m. Tickets will be available through Ticketmaster by visiting www.brooklynnets.com, www.ticketmaster.com, or by calling 800-4NBA-TIX.
The on-sale for individual home game tickets will also include the three preseason games at Barclays Center. The preseason tips off on Monday, October 15 at 7:30 p.m. against the Washington Wizards. To gain presale access, fans can sign up for NetsNews (Brooklyn Nets e-newsletter) and follow @BrooklynNets on Twitter and Facebook (facebook.com/BrooklynNets).
After the Nov. 1 debut against the rival Knicks, the Nets home schedule will be highlighted by visiting from NBA champion Miami on Jan. 30, and defending Western Conference champion Oklahoma City on Dec. 4. Additional games of note include: the Christmas Day matchup at high noon against the Celtics and the Chicago Bulls, who come to Brooklyn on April 4.
A limited number of individual tickets starting at $15 each will be made available 72 hours prior to each Nets home game.