The first-ever Nets regular-season game at Barclays Center on Saturday night was more low-key than it was supposed to be. Rather than a big Battle for the City opener with the Knicks, the Raptors were in town, which means the first major official event of the Brooklyn Nets franchise experience was the singing of “Oh Canada.” Jay-Z and Beyoncé were there, Mikhail Prokohorov was there, Marty Markowitz made something resembling a “speech,” but there was far less pomp than you might has suspected. The canceled game put everybody off their schedule, and much of the night indeed had a second-evening feel. Put it this way: It’s highly unlikely the Nets planned their first-ever halftime show to be Svet, the Hip-Hop Violinist. (Mainly, this consists of playing the violin and saying “yo” a lot.) But the first night was still a success, regardless.
First off, the Nets beat the Raptors in a game that was a lot closer than it needed to be. It would have been a little embarrassing to have lost the opener, and it’s worth noting that the Nets’ bench players were better than the starters. (You can even make an argument that C.J. Watson played better than Deron Williams, though, uh, don’t get used to that.) But they won, which means we can get down to the particulars of the Barclays Center Experience.
• The Nets have an official team song, “Brooklyn: Something to Lean On,” written exclusively for the team by John Forte. We have no idea if the song is any good or not: The only part the team plays is when Forte sings, “Brooklyn, Brooklyn, Brooklyn.” We assume that is not the whole song.
• They’ve kept the “Mookie throwing the trash can through the window from Do the Right Thing” for the “don’t throw things on the court” montage, which was nice. It was narrated by Michael K. Williams rather than Rosie Perez this time.
• The Nets are so committed to their black-and-white “color” scheme that on the overhead scoreboard, even their opponents’ logo is in black and white. The Raptors’ logo was never meant to be in black and white.
• Oh, and the Nets’ scoreboard is dramatically inferior to the Garden’s. It doesn’t give you nearly the stats you want, and on Saturday, it was malfunctioning half the night anyway. Tons of room for improvement there.
• The Brooklyn Nets kid dancers are so much better than the Knicks’ kid dancers that it’s a travesty. Pull it together, Knicks kids.
• For a team so obsessed with glitz, we were impressed that the scoreboard didn’t make nearly as big a deal as the Garden does with celebrities in attendance. MSG gives you four or five cuts and shout-outs to Celebrity Row a game; all Barclays did was show Jay-Z and Beyoncé a couple of times, which is totally within their rights.
• Speaking of which, they looked good.
• Bruce Ratner was booed, but not nearly as lustily as David Stern. (Who looks awfully old all of a sudden.)
• So, about that mascot. Gone is the Sly Fox or whatever he was. Now the Nets have BrooklyKnight, and that spelling is exact. (And, as a professional purveyor of letters, a horrific eyesore.) According to the official press release:
The BrooklyKnight will appear at all Brooklyn Nets home games and support his team against the invasion of opponents. He is equipped to handle almost any threat with a protective metal B on his chest, metal knee, elbow, and face coverings, defined muscles, including a six-pack, and a multi-functional cape.
Yeah, he’s also a walking nightmare. The mascot, instantly, is irredeemably lame, probably the first time the Nets marketing machine has misstepped. That mask? That cape? As was pointed out on Twitter, BrooklyKnight is essentially the Greendale Human Being with a shield. The Nets have been incredibly smart about sticking to their brand and their style; the BrooklyKnight is a huge step away from that. Most mascots are lame. But this one isn’t even cute. He’s essentially the Gimp. Your kid will be terrified by BrooklyKnight. (Hopefully.)
• The most compelling subplot of the evening involved which chant the newbie crowd would land on as the official team chant. “Let’s Go Nets,” “De-Fense,” and “Brooklyn! Nets!” fell short and couldn’t catch on at all. But then, toward the end of the night, they nailed it with “Brook-Lyn! Brook-Lyn! Brook-Lyn!” to the tone of “Ass-hole!” and “Bull-shit!” It has a haunting, almost funereal tone, yet it’s strangely inspiring. Don’t try anything else, Nets fans: That’s the chant you want.
And now the place is open and just a regular place that hosts basketball games. There’s another one tonight against the Timberwolves. Beware BrooklyKnight. “BrooklyKnight’s sleepin’.” “Well, you better wake ‘im up then.”