With every game, every trip, and every stroke of a key on my MacBook, deep down inside, the hope is that the next time I leave my home, the things I witness and experience will be something that goes down in history.
Like in 2003, when I saw Latrell Sprewell set the NBA’s all-time mark for most consecutive 3-pointers made in a game without a miss. Or in 2004, at the Palace of Auburn Hills in Detroit, when I saw Rasheed Wallace play his first game as a member of the Pistons before helping them to one of the most improbable NBA Finals upsets in history.
And from Kobe Bryant’s 61-point game in Madison Square Garden back in 2009 to being on hand to witness LeBron James win his first championship in Miami last season—being a witness or merely having the opportunity to be on hand just in case something historic occurs—that is why I do this.
Being a part of New York’s double-header ranks right up there with the aforementioned experiences.
I was always excited about the Nets moving into Brooklyn. The fact this city has two NBA teams is awesome. And a major part of the reason why I accepted SNY’s offer was because I wanted to be a narrator of the move to Brooklyn.
I wanted to be a part of history.
Prokhorov—who addressed Nets fans before Game 1 tipped off at Barclays Center—assured them of a bright future.
“This is only the beginning,” he promised from center court.
And thus far, he has delivered.
Prokhorov has invested vast resources into building the Nets. Their 49-33 record this season is tied for their second best record in their history, and they have turned it around since going 12-70 just three short years ago.
Deep down inside, I hoped that the Knicks and Nets would meet up in the first round of the playoffs as the fourth and fifth seeds.
An intra-city playoff series?
Sign me up.
Never did I think that—for the first time in history—the two teams would finish in the top four of the conference and host their own playoff series. And I certainly did not expect the NBA to schedule and for me to attend a day-night Manhattan-Brooklyn playoff double-header.
But once I found out that the NHL’s New York Rangers had Madison Square Garden booked Sunday for a nationally televised 3:00pm game against the New Jersey Devils, I knew—especially considering the relationship that exists between the NBA and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman—that the Knicks would be beginning their playoff series with the Celtics on April 20, not April 21.
Once it all became official last Wednesday night, I had two full days to bask in excitement.
And when the Knicks tipped off against the Celtics on Saturday, with each of Carmelo Anthony’s first four shots finding the bottom of the net, the Garden shook.
And though the experience at MSG is unmatched in most of the league’s venues, today, Barclays Center would not be outdone.
Hours later, even before the Nets tipped off against the Bulls, the buzz and tension in the building was unreal and was unlike anything we have experienced at Barclays this entire season.
It was almost as if Nets fans had been waiting for this game for years.
And then I realized, they had.
The now-familiar “Broooook-lyyyyn” chant rained down from the rafters. Jerry Stackhouse sang the national anthem before the game and David Diamante—the PA announcer—announced that it was time for playoff basketball in Brooklyn.
The “Brooklyn Black Out” was real.
The Nets were ready and absolutely dismantled the Bulls over the course of a 48-minute game in which the Nets did not trail for a single second. For 48 minutes, Barclays Center was euphoric, and rightfully so.
At Madison Square Garden, the Knicks tipped with the afternoon Sun shining and the sky bright. Inside of the building, fans were given orange t-shirts and the scene was the diametric opposite of the blackout that Brett Yormark and the Brooklyn Nets concocted.
The lights were dim, Nets fans had black t-shirts, and the pregame media meal partially consisted of black pasta, for crying out loud.
But what one could not help but to notice was that, opposite MSG, Barclays saw the Nets tip off after the Sun had long set. The night sky at Atlantic Avenue was dark, but not nearly as dark as the black t-shirt wearing crowd.
As I took my walk to Brooklyn’s press box, I saw face-painted fans scurrying to their seats like never before. Everyone was a witness.
On April 20, the Sun rose on the Knicks—who defeated the Celtics earlier on Saturday. On the other hand, the Nets ensured that dreary darkness smothered the Bulls.
Different boroughs. Different arenas. Different teams.
Same passion. Same energy. Same city.