Two weeks ago, we called the Brooklyn Nets “Gentrification’s Team.” It wasn’t a particularly enlightening revelation, of course, but it was now supported by cold hard unscientific data.
The New York Times had used Facebook likes to create a map showing the most popular NBA team in every zip code in America. The Knicks owned almost every zip code from Poughkeepsie to Rockaway Beach, from Jersey City to the Hamptons. Every neighborhood, that is, except a block of seven zip codes surrounding Barclays Center. This was Nets territory. And as other, slightly more scientific data (not Facebook, but Census) showed, this block also housed the highest concentration of Brooklyn’s new residents.
Unlike longtime Brooklyn dwellers, many of these transplants had no prior ties to the Knicks. “In a sense,” we wrote, “the franchise has helped engineer its own fan base: Barclays Center attracted more development, which attracted more out-of-town transplants to the area, which expanded the pool of potential Nets fans.”
But these Nets fans are not simply colors on a map nor numbers on a spreadsheet. There are personal reasons behind their loyalties.
See Also: The Brooklyn Nets: Gentrification’s Team
Brooklyn resident Dana Jensen reached out to us, and presented the view from Nets Nation:
I’m a Nets fan that’s not from Brooklyn and it’s time the boo-hoo’s out of the self-proclaimed diehard, authentic fans stopped. Because the truth is, if you’re a true fan, one that believes and supports the team throughout wins and losses, then you also appreciate what the Nets truly are.
For those born and raised, ride or die Brooklyn, the Nets are their team. They’re a long-awaited symbol of pride for the people who have forever called Brooklyn home. It’s a milestone for the borough, and a well-deserved one at that.
But they’re also my team. The truth is, all us transplants come to New York for the same reason you born and bred types stay. It’s about time we all stop defining the lines between what was versus what is.
We settled into Brooklyn because we found a home. We found something to hold on to and build on, and no one should have to justify or prove that. I can’t help where I came from or where I grew up, but I can do something about where I am now. I choose to live here, and I have the right to be proud of my home.
Let’s not forget that the Nets shed their old colors for their new ones and reinvented their team identity in Brooklyn. Just like many of their fans, they aren’t from here. That’s why I’m a Nets fan.
The Nets represent why us transplants come here and why we feel so at home. Brooklyn is where I came to find a new identity; I became what I wanted to be and left the past behind. We got our start the same way, and for that I choose to wear black and white.
Dana is not an outlier. Facebook likes tell one story. Walking south and east of Gentrified Brooklyn tells another: it’s not just newcomers who choose to wear black and white.
In Flatbush and Brownsville and East New York, you can barely go a few blocks without seeing somebody in Nets gear. This spring, at park benches and in front of bodegas, grown men talked Nets.
Most of the folks who rock the gear, though, are younger, grade schoolers and twenty-somethings. Perhaps the Knicks’ struggles through much of their lives kept them from developing a bond (the team had nine straight losing seasons from 2001 to 2010). Or perhaps they just want to rep where they’re from.
Send story tips to the author, Albert Samaha