This time next year, the New Jersey Nets will be the Brooklyn Nets, Deron Williams will be a Maverick and Mikhail Prokhorov will be training for his kickboxing throwdown with professional wrestling’s Mark Cuban. It’s not the greatest situation, though there certainly is potential for some nice laughs.
That’s why the Nets’ attendance is so abysmal. They’re worst in the league in home attendance and only draw more fans on the road because they’re playing other teams. And since everyone knows the Nets are leaving and everyone knows they’re terrible, it has to be weird to cheer at the Prudential Center. Let’s just say it’s hard to get excited about a team that’s leaving, hasn’t won more than 34 games since 2007 and stands to lose their best player and top draft pick within a few weeks.
But what about those people who do show up for the last few New Jersey Nets games ever? What are those people like? Grantland’s David Marchese found out. Here’s a 76-year-old who calls himself “Whammy.”
Whammy’s real name is Bruce Reznick. He’s wearing glasses the size of side-view mirrors and a red Nets jersey that hangs to the middle of his thighs. “[Paul] Pierce comes to the line,” continues Whammy, “and I start yelling, ‘I’m gonna put the whammy on you, 34! Whaaammy on you, 34! And Pierce, he says to me, ’34? What’s my name? You know my name!’” Whammy chomps a chocolate chip cookie. “And Pierce misses the free throw! The whammy worked!” Then what? “Pierce makes his next 11. It’s the Nets. Whaddya expect?”
Just a classic defeated Nets fan. No big deal. Who else you got?
“It’s been a bittersweet year,” says the dancer, Phil Tozzi. “I’ve had season tickets for more than 10 years. The cost is going up 300 percent for Brooklyn. I’d be paying more for tickets than I do for my mortgage, so I don’t know what’s gonna happen. But I love coming here. I love dancing.”
Love this guy. Sometimes you just have to dance, even if it means taking on a second mortgage to go to Brooklyn and watch a bad basketball team. That’s dedication, holmes.
But the best fan, easily, is this unnamed lady who just wants to chill.
With the Nets leading, I wander over to the Ice Lounge bar. Three 30-ish women are sitting together. I tap one on the shoulder.
“Excuse me, ma’am. Are you a Nets fan?” I ask.
“I’m a pregame drinking fan,” she says, then sucks Patron and pineapple juice through a straw.
“But now it’s in-game,” I say.
The woman, in turn, swivels to face her friends.
“Seriously, though,” I say, “are you a Nets fan?”
“We got a good deal for tickets on Groupon,” she snaps over her shoulder.
I haven’t watched many episodes of “Sex and the City,” but this sounds like the worst possible episode of “Sex and the City.” In fact, a group of women snatching Nets tickets on Groupon so they can get hammered at the Prudential Center actually seems like an internet spoof of your girlfriend’s favorite show.
But it’s real. That’s what is going on with the Nets during their last three games in their old state — an old guy who realizes the Nets are always going to disappoint him, a guy who loves the team because that’s when he gets to dance and a group of ladies who just want to get drunk. Obviously that’s not the entirety of the fan base, and there are no doubt diehard fans who live and breathe the Nets, but if you go to a game, don’t be surprised if this is who you run in to. It’s not pretty out there, but that just mirrors what’s happening on the court.