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|He'll open the arena himself. But Jay-Z's best contribution is bringing Brooklyn to the Nets' name.|
I father, I Brooklyn Dodger them.
I jack, I rob, I sin.
Aw man, I'm Jackie Robinson.
Except when I run base, I dodge the pen.
-- Jay-Z, "Brooklyn (Go Hard)"
On Feb. 25, 1960, Ebbets Fields found forever.
With it -- to many who live and breathe the Borough -- went the entire culture of sports in the place made famous by "The Boys of Summer" and more famous by Branch Rickey.
On Sept. 26, 2011, Shawn Corey Carter made the solution official.
"Brooklyn Nets," he spit into the microphone atop the Barclay's Center podium. Announcing the new name of the franchise of which he is part owner and partially responsible for moving.
|The Dodgers -- the Brooklyn Dodgers, that is -- are gone. But hardly forgotten.|
Welcome back, Carter. Not Vince, not Kotter. Dreams are your tickets back in. From Jersey to BK. All day, every day. A "city" in need of something to say. Years of notorious sports silence now primed to make noise. Ready to, as Malcolm Gladwell wrote for Grantland, restore "the sporting glory lost when the Dodgers fled for Los Angeles."
At least, that's the plan.
Now who's back does Spike gotta have? The return of pro sports to Brooklyn is the resurrection of something more than just an NBA team coming across the river.
Fifty-four years since they've been able to claim a team of their own rather than adopt all the others New York has to share. Giants. Jets. Knicks. Rangers. This is Brooklyn, baby. No more need for Frank Sinatra and Alicia Keys anthems to play during games. They got Roy Ayers and Beastie Boys chants and choruses now.
The move is just as significant as the name change. The "Brooklyn" surname makes it specific. The Nets will rep one borough, not an area annexed to NYC. "The Bronx" Yankees. "The Queens" Mets. The way it should be. But it's not. It took Brooklyn to finally get it right.
It took basketball to make it right. The soul of the game used to be relegated to a place called the Hole. Playground ball made known to the world by Booger Smith, a Sports Illustrated cover and an independent film. That became Brooklyn's main claim to current sports fame and recognition.
All teams minor. In leagues with obscure acronyms. USBL. ABA. CFL. FHL. The Brooklyn Cyclones held down baseball; the Brooklyn Knights hold their own in the USL-PDL. It's only fitting that the game Max Zaslofsky and Fly Williams made beautiful in Brownsville was the one that came back home.
|Nets forward Kris Humphries started to make himself at home way back in April.|
Back to the legacies of Larry Brown, Lenny Wilkens and Chris Mullin; back to the influence of Billy Cunningham, Bernard King and Stephon Marbury; back to where Michael Jordan took his first breath.
The game is prodigal upon its return. Unlike a son, a borough's been lost without a team. Holding on to names like Mike Tyson and Sandy Koufax, the 1955 World Series and "B" blue caps. Brooklyn needed more. Finally got what it begged for. Jay-Z had 'em at hello. Mikhail Prokhorov had 'em at Hov.
All thoughts cashmere. Blackmon to Brown. From Mars to Chris Breezy imitating Mars. Look at them now. The Nets. So Brooklyn. All Brooklyn. No Kidd'n. No joke.
Eendraght Maeckt Maght. The Brooklyn motto. "Unity makes strength." Words they live by. It took the beautifullest game to give Brooklyn back its sports identity. The relocation is only part of what this does, of the impact it is about to have.
Renaming their team while making a name for themselves. "NYK" logos disappearing in Fort Greene, Crown Heights, Bushwick and Bensonhurst. "BKN" will be the new. "Nets ... Do or Die" will be the Bed-Stuy cry. Something to live for.
This life, theirs forever.
Scoop Jackson is a columnist for ESPN.com.
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