Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - You can make a strong argument that
Brooklyn hasn't been a relevant part of the sports world since 1957 when the
Dodgers fled the borough for the left coast.
The Brooklyn Dodgers, of course, are best known for breaking the color barrier
in Major League Baseball when Jackie Robinson became the first African-
American to play in the majors on April 15, 1947.
The borough and Ebbets Field wasn't just about baseball, however. The
legendary ballpark also housed professional football, Manhattan College's
football team and even the occasional boxing match before being demolished in
Memories obviously fade over 52 years but Brooklyn is about to become a major
player again in America's sports and entertainment landscape again.
Nets minority owner Jay-Z plans to open the Barclays Center by performing in a
series of concerts beginning on Sept. 28. The Atlantic 10 Conference's men's
basketball tournament has left Atlantic City for the BK and World Wrestling
Entertainment has already booked a pay-per-view attraction at the venue,
December's "Tables, Ladders and Chairs."
Meanwhile, Oscar De La Hoya's Golden Boy Promotions will bring boxing back to
Brooklyn in October when unbeaten Danny Garcia will defend his WBA, WBC & Ring
Magazine super lightweight championships against Erik Morales in the first
title tilt in Brooklyn since Aug. 5, 1931 when defending light heavyweight
kingpin Maxie Rosenbloom outpointed Jimmy Slattery over 15 rounds at Ebbets
The Nets, however, remain the bell cow of Brooklyn's sports renaissance and it
looks as though the team is doing everything possible to live up to the hype
coming out of the gate.
The signing of forwards Andray Blatche and Josh Childress earlier this week
were anything but high-profile but they did signal a significant shift
involving the Nets' reputation around the NBA
While neither Blatche or Childress are ascending players at this point, the
fact that each chose to sign non-guaranteed contracts with the organization
speaks volumes about what players now think about the Nets.
At one point the 26-year-old Blatche, a 6-foot-11, 260-pound athletic marvel,
looked like a future superstar in the nation's capital. Some even compared his
skill-set to the great Kevin Garnett.
Blatche certainly didn't have K.G.'s maturity or drive, however, showing up
woefully out of shape after the lockout last season. Washington was so fed up
with Blatche after the campaign, the Wizards paid him $23 million to walk
away, amnestying the big man.
Childress, meanwhile, was once the sixth overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft.
The lengthy 6-foot-9 small forward has never been the same since leaving the
NBA for Olympiacos in 2008 after the Euroleague club gave him a massive
contract which paid him well over $10 million dollars as well as all his local
taxes and agent fees along with a house, a car and a Greek Nike show contract.
Blatche spent part of his summer working with John Lucas, the former addict
who has made his life's mission to help others with second chances.
"He's shown the commitment to get in much better shape and the humility that
comes with being amnestied," Lucas told the Syracuse Post-Standard when
talking about Blatche. "But nobody will take your word for it. You have to
Childress, on the other hand, could help fill a significant need behind Gerald
Wallace at small forward for the Nets. The team hopes reuniting Childress, who
was amnestied by Phoenix after a disappointing 2011-12 campaign, with
his friend and teammate in Atlanta, All-Star Joe Johnson, will help him return
to his past form.
At nearly $40 million, a pair of players like Blatche and Childress are
albatrosses. At just over $2 million with nary a guarantee, signing them is
the very definition of low-risk and high-reward.
The Sports Network