Brooklyn, We Need To Talk About “The Brooklyn Chant”



You’ve heard it. The chant fills Barclays Center a.k.a. The Black House a.k.a. The House That Hov Built a.k.a. Where Is The Promised Housing like no other. It’s the best chant Brooklyn has, and may be the best chant in sports. It’s simultaneously a jeer and a cheer. It can throw an away team off its rocker while pushing Brooklyn forward. It’s fantastic, and I’m worried about wasting it.

I mean it when I say that The Brooklyn Chant (as I’m referring to it from here on out) is fantastic. No other team has something similar. It’s got the cadence of a syncopated “bull-s***” while still holding a strong positive connotation and a connection to the borough. Just watch — nay, listen to — the chant come together at the end of the team’s first victory against Philadelphia:

Beyonce got in on it. Jay-Z loved it. Deron Williams, who swears up and down he didn’t hear it, brandished his jersey right at the “BROOKLYN” lettering. The arena synergized and swelled. It was a beautiful moment in Barclays Center history — the fans got it right. We knew the game was over. It was akin to “FINISH HIM” in Mortal Kombat. They celebrated the bloodshed. The Brooklyn Chant, at this time, was wonderful because it had meaning, it had purpose, it had a driving force.

Unfortunately, this hasn’t always been the case early on. Occasionally, fans have tried their damnedest to scatter The Brooklyn Chant over random second quarter intervals, just trying to get it going. Sometimes the team pumps in the chorus of John Forte’s great Brooklyn Nets theme song, trying to get the crowd sing-songing along. It never comes together just right, never like it does in the moments that matter.

From my brief experience in The Black House, the majority of its crowd doesn’t feel the need to toss chants in at any time during the game. Between the stadium lighting and the darkened rafters, it feels like watching a theatrical performance. We’ve accepted that and embraced it. You don’t laugh at a movie when something isn’t funny, you don’t cheer a boxing match when fighters are circling one another. You shouldn’t throw down perhaps the most haunting chant in sports without cause.

The Brooklyn Chant has to have meaning. It comes together perfectly in those moments. When finishing off an opponent like Toronto on opening night, it’s chilling in the best way. When Brooklyn’s trying to get a big stop or score in a close, late game (like in yesterday afternoon’s Orlando contest), The Brooklyn Chant is at its biggest and boldest. When the team needs the crowd behind it, it shines through.

So please, Brooklyn. Don’t force it. Don’t try to make it something that it isn’t. Don’t waste it on mundane moments here and there just because it’s a little quiet during a nine-point lead in the second quarter. It’s pitch-perfect when it matters most.