When Kyrie Irving came into the league, the Nets were in the transition from being a team based in New Jersey to one that called Brooklyn home. But the NBA superstar’s unique connection to the Nets runs deeper than that having rooted for the team while he was growing up in the Garden State.
Now with the organization celebrating its 10th anniversary in Brooklyn and Barclays Center, Irving has a better understanding of what the anniversary means and what it could mean for the team to have success this season. Brooklyn has been a heavy title favorite over the past few years, but has fallen well short of those lofty expectations, especially last season.
The Nets have taken a much more focused approach going into this season, still, Irving acknowledged what it would mean to win a title this season during the 10-year anniversary.
“Honestly I can say I’m grateful to be in probably the dream position of a kid or Nets fan being at home and being able to play for their home team,” Irving said. “It’s always going to be a special place in my heart just to see us go from Continental Airlines (Arena in East Rutheford, New Jersey) to Prudential Center (in Newark, New Jersey) to now to be in Brooklyn for 10 years. And to say that I was drafted at a time that transition was happening and I was part of it. Now that I’m on this side of creating a legacy that’s going to last way beyond my years, I’m grateful.
“To do it with these guys here, specifically what we’ve been through in the last few years, it will make it a lot sweeter if we do get to the top of that mountain at the end of this season. I’m looking forward to the journey and it’s a tall task at hand.”
When Irving was asked what it would do for the franchise to win a title, Irving said he’d have an answer to that in six to nine months. It’s no secret what a milestone that would be for the Nets, who have begun to make inroads into the New York sports market more significantly over the past few years.
Limited success and an established franchise like the New York Knicks have made the journey tougher to grow the fan base. Signs have pointed that the interest has grown over the years, especially since the arrival of Irving and Kevin Durant.
There have been other signs as well. Earlier this month, the Nets hosted their annual Practice in the Park and drew a record crowd of 8,000 fans to Brooklyn Bride Park’s Pier 2.