NBA

Can Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving Save the Nets’ Dismal Fan Loyalty?

Throughout the years, the NBA has developed some strong and passionate fan bases around the league for many of its teams such as the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, and New York Knicks. However, several other teams that have been on the other end of the spectrum primarily due to a lack of consistent success. That has put the Brooklyn Nets’ fan base up into question, especially after a recent study. With that in mind, can Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving change that stigma around the franchise?

Nets ranked among worst fan bases

The Brooklyn Nets have been around for 52 years, which the franchise joined the NBA in 1977 and has been a main staple in the league.

However, that hasn’t translated well to being one of the most active fan bases in the league. A recent study conducted by Michael Lewis, the faculty director of Emory University’s marketing analytics center, took a deeper dive into examining each NBA team’s fan base loyalty along with their engagement that analyzed the team’s home game revenue (fan equity), attendance for road games (road equity), and Twitter reach (social equity). 

Michael Lewis NBA Fan base study

All of that panned out with the Lakers taking the top spot, but the Nets were placed 27th overall while ranking last in the team’s home and social equity. That has put on par with some of the bottom-tier teams in the league with well-known regional fan bases like the Memphis Grizzlies, Washington Wizards, and Charlotte Hornets.

That may be the case for the Nets, but could the addition of Durant and Irving help get them into the upper echelon of teams?

Nets’ big-splash offseason headlined by Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving

Brooklyn took a notable step forward last season by reaching the playoffs for the first time in four years. Despite falling in the first round to the Philadelphia 76ers, the team had moved into a promising direction behind their young core group.

The franchise decided to shake things up a bit over this past summer with the addition Durant and Irving, who are widely regarded as being among the top players in the league. Durant may be out for the entire 2019-20 campaign, but his return to the floor next year should see the team become a potential title contender in the Eastern Conference.

The Nets are off to a rough start this year with Irving leading the charge, but the vision has remained on the long-term picture with the team hoping that their All-Star duo can take them to great heights. Plenty of that success will depend on what kind of player Durant will be after suffering a torn Achilles tendon.

Nonetheless, there is much optimism about lies ahead of the Nets, with two elite talents now leading the charge.

It will come down to one thing: Winning

The Nets may be looking well beyond their early-season struggles, but the fan base’s commitment to the team will ultimately lie with their success on the court.

Brooklyn hasn’t been to the Eastern Conference Finals since the 2002-03 campaign, while their trips to the playoffs have been sporadic. That includes a stretch where they missed the playoffs for five consecutive seasons, with one campaign seeing them lose 70 games.

Their fan base has gone through it all without a single championship since moving over to the NBA. At the same time, that sets up an opportunity for Durant and Irving to carve out their own legacy with the franchise by lifting it to heights that it hasn’t reached.

There will be challenges ahead in the Eastern Conference against teams like the Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics. Meanwhile, the Western Conference remains stacked with both Los Angeles teams emerging as potential title contenders alongside the Houston Rockets and Denver Nuggets.

Beyond all that, the opportunity is there for Durant and Irving to give Nets fans a reason to bring forth that top-level support behind them.