<
>

Nets superfan: 'I'm not a bad guy'

NEW YORK -- Brooklyn Nets superfan Jeffrey Gamblero, who compared being picked up and taken out of Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night by security without his prosthetic leg to "being abducted by aliens," remains distraught over the incident and says he does not feel like himself.

Gamblero limped to his seats located along the baseline at Barclays Center prior to the second half of Friday night's 98-75 loss to the Atlanta Hawks. It was his first game since the incident, and he was greeted with well wishes from Nets fans and Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark. Gamblero said he hopes to feel like his old self again by the February NBA All-Star break.

"I'm Jeffrey Vanchiro right now," he told ESPNNewYork.com, referring to his legal name. "I'm looking for Jeffrey Gamblero. If you find him, let me know. ... I'm alive. I'm not my normal self, but I'm working towards getting back to that. I have a lot of recovery to do: physically, mentally, emotionally. My goal is to get back to being Jeffrey Gamblero by the All-Star break."

Vanchiro did go to a local hospital following the incident. He told the New York Daily News that he has "bumps and bruises and lumps" on his head and back as a result of two security guards picking him up and removing him from the arena. Vanchiro would not go into further detail about his injuries, saying repeatedly that he wants to move on.

Asked whether he had hired a lawyer and eventually would take legal action against MSG, Vanchiro said, "I try to stay away from the legal system, because that's not my field of expertise, so I don't think about things like that."

Vanchiro -- known to Nets fans for wearing neon shirts under his personalized Nets home jersey and for his dance moves shown on arena video screens during home games -- also did not want to go into detail about what happened after he was taken away by security. He was wearing all black at Friday night's game.

"I do not talk about it at all because it becomes very dark there and it brings up very painful emotions," he said.

The incident was captured on video and published to the Internet, where it quickly went viral.

"An unruly fan was ejected after MSG security received multiple complaints from fans sitting in that area," the New York Knicks said via a team spokesperson. "The fan was warned multiple times before being removed. He will not be permitted back into Madison Square Garden."

"I'm not a bad guy. Did I think I was gonna get arrested? No, because I didn't break the law. Is annoying people a crime? Is it? I would hope not. People don't realize, when you're annoyed, that's your problem. Don't be annoyed. Be happy."

Jeffrey Vanchiro

Vanchiro disputes the notion that he was being unruly.

He said he was subdued during the first half but started getting into it as the Nets made a run in the third quarter. Vanchiro was dancing and yelling, but he said it was with only half as much intensity as at a normal Nets home game.

"I started saying, 'Too easy! Too easy!' and then all hell broke loose," Vanchiro said.

Vanchiro ended up removing his prosthetic leg before security came and took him away, calling the action "passive resistance." He eventually got it back following the incident.

"I'm not a bad guy. I'm not a bad guy," Vanchiro said. "Did I think I was gonna get arrested? No, because I didn't break the law. Is annoying people a crime? Is it? I would hope not.

"People don't realize, when you're annoyed, that's your problem. Don't be annoyed. Be happy."

Vanchiro, 38, grew up a fan of both the Knicks and Nets from the time he was 8 years old. He said his idol growing up was Nets point guard Kenny Anderson. He said that when he was a boy, he used to get into MSG through a veteran security person with whom he has since lost contact.

"I'm a New York sports fan. I love all the teams," he said.

Vanchiro, formerly an accomplished poker player and graffiti artist in Brooklyn, said he plans on trying to heal right now.

"I'm just sitting on the couch and watching the NBA, that's it," he said. "I've been doing a little painting, but even the painting wasn't flowing because I'm not in good spirits. When you do art, you gotta be in good spirits. My good spirits, I'm looking for them."

Vanchiro hopes to be wearing his usual attire to Nets home games and getting back to his dancing act by the All-Star break. But for now, he plans to take it easy.

"I want Jeffrey Gamblero to be ready by the All-Star break," he said. "Because I'm never gonna fake it. If I'm not feeling it, then I'm not doing it."