The Nets revealed their new branding strategy that coincides with their move from New Jersey to Brooklyn and most fans are ecstatic about it. For those that aren’t, we’ll assume they’re Jersey residents losing their home team, which is ironic since Brooklyn also had their home team (Brooklyn Dodgers) leave back in the late 1950s, although to a whole different coast. In time, I’m fairly certain these people will love the Brooklyn version of the Nets, particularly if the team eventually end up being consistent winners. We can only hope.
Our neighbors to the west aside, there has already been some beef about the Brooklyn-centric branding from Nets fans residing in non-BK boroughs in New York. It’s rare to have Nets fans nowadays, let alone outside of New Jersey or anyone not masochistic, so to actually hear people taking offense to the Brooklyn branding of the Nets is kind of surreal. Yet, I had a first dose of that umbrage recently on Twitter when someone from Queens, NY felt like they couldn’t root for the Nets anymore because it was basically all Brooklyn everything with the branding. It was an unexpected tweet because I didn’t know the Nets had that reach into my home borough… Jackson Heights, Corona, East Elmhurst, Flushing, and Jamaica STAND UP!
Now, see what I did there? I did the typical shout-out that many people from around the way make and it’s all about having pride in where we come from. So, while I don’t throw up the Q (which actually seems impossible to me unless you want to look ridiculous), I understand people wanting to “represent.” To some degree, we’re all guilty of this. But, no one is more guilty or more effective or more passionate than Brooklyn is at it. At least in New York and this is coming from a boy from Queens, so save the hate.
Nowadays we see the root of “repping” your borough/city through hip-hop music and Biggie’s query for “Where Brooklyn at?” is as iconic a shout-out as any continued more recently with Santogold’s melodic statement of “Brooklyn we go hard” on a Jay-Z track. However, even old-timers will defend their Brooklyn origins and pass it down to their children, who will do the same in kind with their children and so on and so on. For these reasons, as much as others, the Nets are banking on this Brooklyn pride to take root with the team and grow, nurtured by the blatant Brooklyn-centric branding. It’s a big gamble with a big payoff.
So, while the other boroughs may feel slighted by the strategy, consider the hold that the New York Knicks have on the whole New York City area. Obviously, they’re the legacy and natural fallback for fandom to those in the metro area. If the Nets are going to win the area over and convert Knicks fans to Nets fans, other than winning (or rather in addition to), the team has to handle homebase – Brooklyn. Get BK to get your back and you’re good.
Personally, I’m old enough to remember the borough wars on wax back in the 1980s and in one of the bigger diss tracks during that time, KRS-One of Boogie Down Productions rhymes the following in The Bridge is Over:
Manhattan keeps on makin’ it, Brooklyn keeps on takin’ it…
Those lyrics describe the mission the Nets are on. While the Knicks are “makin'” it in Manhattan, the Nets are planning on “takin'” it with the “it” being the most passionate basketball fans in the world. And it all starts with this branding.