“How does one obtain 18 losses in a row?” a teenage boy playfully asked his friend. Using his hand as a mic, he waited for a reply. “Uhmm… you call yourself the Nets and miss all of ’em in sight?” “Correct!”
The two boys passed by my stoop laughing, but for many sports fans around Brooklyn, this is a serious matter.
With the extensive planning by Bruce Ratner, the Atlantic Yards Project includes the creation of Barclays Center, the projected new sports stadium for the New Jersey Nets to call their new home. This center is expected to bring more to the community than just “concerts, fine arts performances, circuses, college basketball games, ice shows, and music award shows.” It also promises the return of an element of Brooklyn that had been dismissed for over 50 years– the spirit of fanatic pride.
The last time Brooklyn was home to a sports franchise was in 1957, when Walter O’Malley announced the end of the 67 years run of the Dodgers in the city.
Originally, Walter O’Malley, owner of majority of the Dodgers, planned to keep the team in Brooklyn. It was the stadium Ebbets Field – worn down, rigid, and old – that caused the lack of sold tickets at home games. Due to these conditions, the 32,000-capable seating of Ebbets Field was only being filled to about 13,000 per game. The only resolve was a new stadium.
The space of which O’Malley had his eye on for the Dodgers Stadium lies straight across from the now projected Barclays Center. Although Bruce Ratner has the Supreme Court to back his aspirations, Walter O’Malley at the time had no one to turn to but the all-encompassing Robert Moses.
Moses had rejected the plans of O’Malley, but proposed to him a site in Flushing Meadows, Queens (which later became the home of the New York Mets). This site would feature a city-built, city-owned park– far from the vision of O’Malley. With Moses determined to subdue any dreams of privately owned stadiums in the city, O’Malley decided instead of giving in, to give up- and so was the result to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Today, with Brooklyn aching to call themselves home to another sports franchise, one may find it contradicting that the New York Daily News reported unwelcoming sentiments for the Nets. But the cause is evident- the Nets jump-started their 09-10 season with a new record: the worst start in NBA history with 18 consecutive losses.
“I want Brooklyn to be represented, but I don’t want to be represented like that!” said Nelson, my next door neighbor and a die-hard Knicks fan. ” Yeah, I’m a Knicks fan, but I would definitely love to cheer on a team from Brooklyn. Just not that team. They suck.”
Initially, it made sense to me that Brooklyn wouldn’t want a losing team to call their own… I mean.. obviously! But soon after speaking with an array of Brooklynites, I found this claim to be false for most of the borough.
“We lost the Dodgers back in the day… Brooklyn Nets would be sweet. It kinda feels a void, ya know?” said an elderly, gray-haired man while drinking down a slice of pizza with a coca-cola bottle.
“Well, I hate it in principle,” said a 21-year-old aspiring sports journalist. “The company tied to it has ties to slavery. They’re using Jay-Z to try to placate the people into downtown Brooklyn, and the fact that the Nets suck… But in reality, I love it. I’m tryna be in there with a job!”
“Most likely, we’re gonna get new team members, so I’m not worried about it,” said 34-year old Keith Frankson. “Plus, a new environment will probably do them dudes some good. They’re in Dirty Jerz for goodness sake!”