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Last year's ranking: 71
Title track: 86
Fan relations: 66
Stadium experience: 37
Bang for the buck: 66
The Nets are the basketball kings of New York! Granted, Mikhail Prokhorov and a team of four other random Russian oligarchs could have beaten the Knicks last year, but it was quite the statement when the Nets' billionaire owner hung a 22-story, 21,375-square-foot Nets billboard near Madison Square Garden, featuring his own cheeky grin. Knicks owner James Dolan felt so bullied that he ran to the commish to broker some kindergarten justice.
The Nets shelled out a record $90-plus million in luxury tax last season, managed to procure Busta Rhymes and Mike D for pregame intros, and even signed Andrei Kirilenko to a deal that had NBA execs crying conspiracy. Unfortunately that kind of dough -- or really, any type of dough -- didn't trickle down to the fans. The Nets have some of the most expensive cheap seats in the league, and the sixth-priciest tickets overall (only the Knicks, Heat, Bulls, Celtics and L.A. teams are more expensive). And while Brooklyn advanced to the conference semifinals, the Toronto series left the Nets exposed. A headline on the back of the Toronto Sun tabloid read: Raptors vs. Dinosaurs (pictured: Paul Pierce and KG), and beneath it the line, "Garnett & Pierce are so old the Raptor had to ask his dad about them." And Deron Williams' face was popping up on Have You Seen This Person fliers outside the Barclays Center. The reward: $63,128,400. Although the biggest dis was reserved for Brooklyn's fans. Sparked by Toronto's crowd, the Nets' official Twitter account proclaimed: "#Nets fans take note -- this is what a playoff crowd sounds like ... set your DVD and take notes." (An apology soon followed).
The Nets may be Kings of New York, but it wouldn't hurt if they set their sights a little higher