Brian ErniYou had to have heard it, both on Saturday and Tuesday night. It was wearing white T-shirts inside the Air Canada Centre, or packed onto the concourse outside the building. It was in the “KG sucks” chants, or the moaning on every slight bump. It’s basketball fever, and it’s catching on in the Great White North.
Yes, folks, Toronto is pumped, and they have sheer and utter disdain for anyone standing in their way of winning their first playoff series since the 2000-01 season, particularly these Brooklyn Nets.
Can you blame them? The Raptors are a young team that was supposed to tank for the lottery. Kyle Lowry? He probably should have been a Knick four months ago. But this team didn’t die, and rose up to outlast some of the premiere franchises in the sport to win the Atlantic division. How can a fan base not get excited about a team like that? Especially when they’re matched up a virtual who’s who is the National Basketball Association in the past 10-15 years. With all of their chanting and ranting and raving, the Raptors fan base set quite the standard for this series. Now it’s time for Brooklyn to answer.
“I don’t know if you can say, ‘F Brooklyn’ and then come into Brooklyn,” Kevin Garnett said on Wednesday, in reference to Masai Ujiri’s comments prior to Game 1. “We’re about to see what it’s like.”
Brett Yormark also encouraged Nets fans to bring the noise to the building:
Looking forward to Friday night, Brooklyn fans need to bring the passion and energy. Bring it Brooklyn …
— Brett Yormark (@brettyormark) April 23, 2014
Let’s face it: Barclays Center seemed flat last postseason. Call it anecdotal, but there didn’t seem to be that juice that the building had even down the stretch in this season. It could have been because of a transitioning fan base, one that was spread out throughout New Jersey and still trying to entrench itself in its new borough. Or maybe it’s because certain New York playoff games have a propensity to turn into a quasi-corporate retreat. Whatever the case, the time has come to get raucous.
The lasting image of that series was Chicago, on the Nets’ floor, celebrating a Game 7 victory. This year, that can’t be the case. The team is too talented, and the path is too attainable. These guys can play with Miami, and Indiana looks shaky. This window won’t be around forever. It’s time for our building to become the building, and it starts with showing the fans in Toronto they don’t have the market cornered on being loud.
Let’s go, Brooklyn. Stand up, as David Diamante would say. Break out your black gear, and embrace these Nets. It’s time to get loud.