Editor’s note: This interview was originally intended to be posted as part of our Back to Brooklyn series, coinciding with the Nets debut in the borough. But due to Superstorm Sandy, this piece could not run until now.
The Nets are taking New York by storm. And now the Nets are bringing big-time sports back to Brooklyn. Our special “Back to Brooklyn” series continues with the man who’ll be courtside for the majority of the games at the just unveiled Barclays Center. Ian Eagle is starting his 11th season as Nets play-by-play announcer on the YES Network. His association with Nets dates back 19 years. (The “Birdman” celebrates his 44th birthday Saturday)
And yet for the versatile sportscaster, it’s like starting anew.
“It feels almost like an expansion team in many ways, except usually with expansion teams you’re not very good.” Eagle says. “The Nets were able to clean the slate and put together a credible roster.”
Typically, when an NBA team packs up for another city, its fans are unable to make the move too. This, however, is a unique situation.
“It’s still the same media market. It’s the same outlet,” Eagle says. “So while you have longtime New Jersey fans that feel badly that the team did leave the Garden State, you still have a chance to be a part of this and root for the team.”
Older Nets fans will recall the franchise’s origins in the ABA with Julius “Dr. J. Erving at the Nassau Coliseum. Eagle says that the Nets will tap into that fan base.
“I think you have a small base that just stuck with the team, even amidst all of the changes through the years,” Eagle says. “It’s based on the romance of being a sports fan.”