One of the most interesting storylines in the Eastern Conference this season is the battle of New York.
It has been three summers since the Brooklyn Nets had emerged from the shadows of the New York Knicks when they scooped up superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. The Nets have become a title contender overnight after adding James Harden to form a super team in Brooklyn last season. Across the bridge, the Knicks have transformed from a laughingstock into a virtual playoff lock with the hiring of veteran coach Tom Thibodeau.
The gripping battle for the city’s stranglehold will reach fever pitch this season if their paths cross in the playoffs.
The sideline battle could be hotter as a recent survey conducted by BetUS.com revealed that the Knicks have the most die-hard fans while the Nets have the most bandwagon fans.
The online gambling company’s study had the Knicks (81.9 percent) coming in a close second behind the Boston Celtics (82.7 percent) as the most followed team in the NBA. The Nets rounded up the list of the top 10 most followed teams with the major boost from their superstars, particularly Durant, the third-most followed player in the NBA (behind LeBron James and Stephen Curry), according to the survey.
BetUS came up with their loyalty meta rankings after calculating the weighted average of the following key metrics of fan behavior:
- Time spent following favorite team as a percentage of total time spent following the NBA (Weight: 50%)
- Average percentage of team’s games watched per season (Weight: 25%)
- Percentage of fans who have bought team merchandise (Weight: 5%)
- Percentage of fans who have bought tickets to a game (Weight: 5%)
- Percentage of fans who have followed their team on social media (Weight: 5%)
- Percentage of fans who have a tattoo of their preferred team logo (Weight: 5%)
- Average dollars spent on merchandise by fans each season (Weight: 5%)
The Knicks’ fans’ long-time loyalty to their team is unmatched. They have the most die-hard fans (63 percent) but the Nets are starting to gain ground with their star power drawing the most bandwagon fans (45 percent).
According to the survey’s metrics, die-hard fans are those who have followed the team for more than five years and more than half of the time spent following the NBA. In contrast, the bandwagon fans are those who have followed the team for less than two years.
In addition, more than half of the Nets fans who responded to the survey have only started following the team in 2021. Winning a championship in the next year or two could sustain their ascent as fan favorites.
The good news for the Knicks is that they did not land in the top five among teams with the biggest loss of followers despite a long stretch of incompetence in the last decade.
While Irving’s reluctance to get the COVID-19 vaccine is threatening Brooklyn’s title hopes this season, the Nets still have enough star power and a deeper bench this year to mitigate his possible prolonged absence.
On the other hand, the Knicks have reloaded to keep in step, slowly building a serious playoff contender. The addition of four-time All-Star Kemba Walker and France’s best swingman Evan Fournier addressed their weakness that was exposed in the playoffs. A second straight playoff appearance and a deeper run will certainly help their appeal to more NBA fans to counter the mainstream media narrative that they own New York, but the Nets are more popular outside the city.
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