America loves the underdog. We love the characters that emerge from the shadows and jaws of defeat. We love the rag-tag team of cast-offs that unite a region and impossibly represent those with the heart but not the talent. We love the individual that holds the captivatingly confident demeanor that is rooted in an irrevocable belief of what can be accomplished instead of what has been accomplished.

Somehow, someway, we’ve entered the glitch in the matrix where a New York franchise, while sliding under the radar, embodies all of this while failing to receive the fanfare that comes with it.

How did we get here? How did we reach the point where the Brooklyn Nets have become a lovable underdog and on the road to becoming New York’s team?

Simple.

The coldest right hand in the league. The most unique kicks in a league that predicates its identity on self-expression and is essentially responsible for creating the now billion-dollar sneaker industry. The best sideline celebrations across the nation. Oh, and the best afro in the league.

Jarrett Allen (31) has an incredible afro.
[Abby Parr/Getty Images] | Jarrett Allen | You just haven’t seen that since Coffee Black and the Flint, Michigan Megabowl.

Looking at their roster, you might have trouble recognizing more than two or three players. One reason for that is because they’re so young. Not to mention most of them didn’t start their careers in the city that never sleeps.

Sounds like most of New York. Young at heart, at least.

The Nets are full of 20-somethings and their focal point is a kid who fell out of favor with Magic Johnson and the west coast. D’Angelo Russell is slowly establishing the resumé as the leader and star that many hoped he would become after his days as a Buckeye.

The team, embodying that “pickup game” energy on the court, is dancing towards its first playoff birth since the ’14-’15 season and are finally giving people reason to pay attention.

When you’re having fun, it becomes contagious. It bleeds into all aspects of your performance. Clutch shots, blowouts, synchronized dances. It’s all a by-product of what appears to be a strong locker room and an attitude – better yet – swagger that has been absent from the Brooklyn narrative for quite some time.

The Nets have been, and possibly forever will be, in the Knicks shadow when it comes to respect, sellouts, and national fanfare. The best I can remember is the early 2000’s when they were running the Kidd-Carter connection. Even then, not to mention they were still in New Jersey.

With the free-agency buzz rumors leaning towards the Knicks landing a possible KD, Kyrie, Kawhi, or Kemba (lotta K’s) and having a shot at Zion Williamson in the draft, this may be the only shot the Nets have for another decade to steal the hearts of New York’s finest.

I’m a fan of the fun and the swagger that they’ve been showing all year. I hope they continue to compete, dance, and sell $15 tickets while they’re at it.