Monday, July 2, 2012
My Struggle to Root for The Brooklyn Nets
I've got a lot of hometown pride. As silly as it really is when you think about it to take pride in something you have no control over like being born in a certain borough, Brooklyn is my home and has been for my whole life with the exception of a couple years in college. So the news that a professional sports franchise is making their home in my borough should make me swell up with irrational feelings of pride. I love basketball and I love Brooklyn. Seems like a perfect match. I should have a Deron Williams (or whoever's on the team next season) fathead on my wall, and add the ugly B logo snapbacks to my wardrobe. Spread love it's the Brooklyn way! Except I'm just not feeling the excitement that the first team in BK in 55 years should be generating in me. This team is still the Nets.
I've spent my entire life either hating or laughing at the Nets, if not both at the same time. Imagine if you lived on a block with a kid for your whole life. He was a real pain in the ass, was a loser most of the time, and when he had some success he was tremendously obnoxious about it. You'd forget he existed until he'd pop up every once in a while and do something really annoying. Then, this guy decided to marry your sister. Now he's a part of your family. He shows up on all holidays and eats dinner at your house on Sundays. If someone insults him they're essentially insulting your family. That's how I feel about the Nets. They've forced themselves into my life now. I am indeed conflicted. If you did one of those infographics on my Facebook statuses, Brooklyn would appear about as often as "and" and "the". It's a big part of my identity. Like most Brooklyn people I talk endlessly about how great we used to be and how much I am annoyed by outsiders claiming our home as theirs. Now I'll be forced to hear "Brooklyn is having a terrible week" or "Brooklyn is on a hot streak" and I'm conflicted as to my feelings about that. When I hate on a team, I like to go all in. It's "Fuck Boston", "the Mets play in Flushing because they're shit", or "Miami fans are the lowest forms of human life". I can't say "Fuck Brooklyn". Not to mention I've already got an NBA team who just so happens to play in the same division and city, but if it were another franchise moving here (say the Kings who would fit right in in the county named for them) I could root for them as a second favorite, except for when they played each other. But I can't get the bad taste of the meadowlands out of my mouth. It tastes like crappy 12 dollar chicken fingers and swamp. How do you separate a team from the city they represent? I can safely hate the Celtics, and everything about them, but can I have the same hatred towards a team that plays only 15 minutes on the R train away from me? I can wish death on Pat Riley's greasy head down there in South Beach, but how could I hate the face of the Nets when he's my favorite rapper? Could I with good faith boo a team with Brooklyn on their chests, even if they still employ Kris Humphries? These are questions I'll be faced with this winter as Brooklyn is all over Sportscenter, the blogs, and social networks. I want to pull for them but I don't know if I can. Even if they somehow pull off a deal to get their own big 3, and are a decent team, they're still The Nets. I should be happy we've hit the big time. Then how come it feels like I'm going to be forced to hate my hometown? I'm excited for a team in Brooklyn, but why did it have to be this one?