Premiering Tuesday night at 10pm and continuing Fridays at 6:30pm, beginning Nov. 2, it has the potential to be the most riveting season yet.
Viewers can watch the Nets begin to challenge the New York Knicks both on the court and in their own backyard, from behind-the-scenes.
For those new to the series, The Association makes it a point to introduce the audience to the city hosting its featured club in the very first moments each year.
In season one, viewers saw surf, shoppers and celebrities before they caught a glimpse of one Los Angeles Laker. After a short introduction, season two took us down US Route 93 and through memory lane to reach the home of the Boston Celtics and we got a brief history of Denver before one ball bounced to start season three’s feature of the Denver Nuggets.
But, none of those cities will have dominated The Association’s narrative as Brooklyn will in its first year hosting an NBA club.
As a former Brooklyn resident who grew up in the shadow of New York City, it’s difficult for your correspondent to objectively convey what it means for a team to build its home Downtown on Atlantic Avenue, fifty-five years after the Brooklyn Dodgers left Flatbush for Los Angeles.
Fortunately, Episode 1: Hello Brooklyn makes for a moving introductory half hour that articulates the emotion of the moment beautifully.
“I don’t say I’m from New York, I say I’m from Brooklyn!”
Rapper Fabolous hip hops us through the introduction. Then, it’s a fast-cut tour around the borough as pictures from the iconic Brooklyn Bridge lead into shots through traffic, past domino games and the Ebbets Field Apartments then down to Coney Island where we’re thrust aboard The Cyclone.
Narrator Michael Kenneth Williams (The Wire, Boardwalk Empire) sums up Brooklyn’s identity within the Five Boroughs when he says, “I don’t say I’m from New York, I say I’m from Brooklyn!”
With a background of soft jazz, Williams’ voice-over offers viewers context on Brooklyn’s sporting history and what it means for an NBA franchise to make New York’s most populous borough its home.
He describes the wistful reminiscence of older Brooklynites left wounded by the Dodgers’ departure and smiles in contemplation of the Nets’ relocation as healing tonic.
The future is here to alleviate the scars of the past in a place that is always mindful of its history.
Rosie Perez (White Men Can’t Jump) makes her first appearance and briefly touches upon Brooklyn’s history within both the revolutionary and modern-era United States as well as its relationship with Manhattan.
The topic of Dodger legend Jackie Robinson reminds us that baseball’s racial integration, a monumental event portending a society-wide integration, happened in Brooklyn.
On screen, a black Jackie steals second while white fans in the crowd cheer deliriously.
New York Times basketball writer Howard Beck restates the trauma of losing the Dodgers and the mark its left on the borough’s sporting past before showing the groundbreaking of the house that Jay-Z helped build.
There is a quick shot of the Ebbets Field Apartments in Flatbush, again reinforcing the tortured context in which we must consider the Nets’ arrival. Every mention of futures promised should be measured against past betrayal.
“We didn’t want to get left at the alter.”
As the Nets wound down their final season in New Jersey questions abound about the makeup of their team in 2012-2013.
General manager Billy King has a history of making bold, often controversial personnel moves and with the Nets set to start the season in their new home in Brooklyn, he needed to justify two historically decrepit seasons by filling the Nets’ roster with stars who could pack the Barclays Center.
Head Coach Avery Johnson’s journey from undrafted free agent rookie to NBA Champion flashes across the screen before his rise and fall as head coach of the Dallas Mavericks sets up the move to New Jersey.
It’s been a long time since he won NBA Coach of the Month in his first two months as a head coach and it looks to be at a critical juncture in his young career.
“We didn’t wanna get left at the altar,” says Avery Johnson as the Howard saga threatened to drag into the summer without decisive action from one of the principles.
“We’re only layin’ the foundation, stay with me now!”
Despite his age, the Johnson is still a productive perimeter player and his length and skill set should allow him to remain productive long enough that the contractual monstrosity he signed in Atlanta should only really cripple the Nets in its last year or two (he’s currently in year three of a six-year deal).
The Nets’ front office and head coach seem to understand that this is a make-or-break year for the franchise and their own careers. Getting Williams to put pen-to-paper on his extension represented a massive coup but taking on Johnson’s contract represents a calculated risk with huge potential upside.
“I like this pressure better,” Johnson as he thinks back to his time in Dallas, where he won NBA Coach of the Year and led the Mavericks to the 2006 NBA Finals.
But he was unceremoniously dismissed two years later after the Mavericks crashed out of the first round of the Western Conference Playoffs for a second consecutive season.
Intelligent and feisty, he seems like the right fit for a team looking to finally rival the New York Knicks for predominance on the City’s basketball scene and even his pronounced New Orleans’ accent fits the profile of a place known to draw immigrants throughout its history.
The shadow cast by the Brooklyn Dodgers is personified in one of the final scenes by former players Ralph Branca and Joe Pignatano.
Branca is best remembered as the pitcher who surrendered Bobby Thomson’s walk-off home run, perhaps the lowest moment in the Brooklyn Dodger history and Pignatano was revealed as the final catcher for the team before they left for Los Angeles in 1957.
The Nets are Brooklyn and Brooklyn are now the Nets. At no point is this more apparent than the end of Episode One as Rosie Perez take Johnson to the famous boxing gym Gleason’s in the DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge) neighborhood as part of the Arkansas boy’s tour around the borough’s landmarks.
For Johnson, the Nets and Brooklyn, the future is bright but the past is not to be forgotten in a place where history lives day-to-day like everybody else.
For NBA TV, Episode One: Hello Brooklyn represents an unqualified success and viewers will look forward to getting to know the Nets as the Nets get to know Brooklyn.
The Association: Brooklyn Nets will air on Fridays throughout the season on NBA TV at 6:30 beginning November 2nd. Check back in this space for weekly episode summaries.
Interestingly, she mentions that Brooklyn is the site of the American’s first battle against the British in 1776. She is alluding to The Battle of Brooklyn, which was the first major battle of the American Revolution and though General George Washington’s army was badly outclassed across the then-rural rolling hills of western Long Island, his dramatic escape across the East River emboldened his young, rag-tag militia and embarrassed the British.
Your humble correspondent was elated to see and hear Ms. Perez and he definitely made a note to scour YouTube for White Men Can’t Jump videos and promised himself that he will rewatch the movie again as soon as is humanly possible.
As far as your humble correspondent can tell, she does make an error when stating the Grand Army Plaza at the entrance to Prospect Park was gifted to the borough by the French (it was designed by Fredrick Olmstead and Calvert Vaux, the same architectural team responsible for Central Park).