Jim Mancari, SNYNets.com
Carmelo Anthony was born in May 1984 and grew up in the Red Hook West Houses in Brooklyn.
His basketball career has taken him all over the globe, but on Monday night, Melo played his first-ever professional game in his home borough. Leading up to the game, he referred to Brooklyn as “my” borough, but after Monday’s win, it’s clear: Brooklyn isn’t Melo’s borough anymore; it now belongs to the Nets.
And that’s especially true of Barclays Center.
Now at 7-1, the Nets are currently the fourth best home team in the NBA and have quickly established a distinct home-court advantage in the brand new Barclays Center.
That the home-court advantage was apparent against even the Knicks was very surprising. Barclays Center is a mere 25-minute subway ride from Madison Square Garden, and many expected Knicks fans to invade and own Barclays as they frequently did when the Nets played in East Rutherford’s Izod Center or Newark’s Prudential Center.
Not the case.
And as for the one home lost the Nets have suffered? They were soundly beating the Minnesota Timberwolves in the second game of the season before blowing a 20-point lead, so the Nets could easily be 8-0 at home.
In the early going, Brooklynites have rallied behind their new team. Chants of “Brooklyn” rain down on opponents for much of a game but especially after a Nets player hits a clutch basket.
Although there were a healthy portion of Knicks fans at Barclays Center Monday night, that wasn’t a surprise. The Knicks are still the main team in town, having been New York City’s only basketball team since 1946. The Nets, on the other hand, are just starting out here.
On Dec. 11, these two teams will meet again. It will be interesting to see if Barclays Center continues to be teeming with black and white rather than blue and orange.
The win over the Knicks does not mean that the Nets are necessarily a “better” team, but it did show the rest of the country that the Nets are no longer a laughingstock.
If the team can continue winning at home, opposing teams will dread having to travel to Downtown Brooklyn. Not only will they be stuck in traffic for most of the day, but they’ll also have to play in an atmosphere synonymous with the Brooklyn borough: loud, passionate and full of energy.
Maybe the 55-year wait since the Brooklyn Dodgers left town has Brooklynites amped up about their new hometown team, but really it’s the upbeat, tenacious style of the new-look Brooklyn Nets that has the borough of Kings in a frenzy. And as they showed on Monday night, they’re a pretty good basketball team, too.
With a few more home wins in a row, Nets games at Barclays Center could be one of the hottest tickets in town.
Even when the Nets won back-to-back Eastern Conference championships in 2002 and 2003, we couldn’t say that.
The times are changing.
Jim Mancari is a Contributor to SNYNets.com. Follow him on Twitter @JMMancari.