Derrel “Jazz” Johnson, SNYNets.com
NEW YORK, N.Y. — On Saturday, October 6, Brooklyn Nets minority owner Jay-Z wrapped up a nine-day engagement that began back on Friday, September 28.
After attending five of the eight sold out concerts at Brooklyn’s brand new, 18,000 seat, $1 billion Barclays Center, I came away having learned two significant things…
First, I believe that Jay-Z is the greatest hip hop artist of all time. Only the G.O.A.T. could sell out eight shows in nine nights and put on such great performances. For what it’s worth, his absolutely beautiful wife, Beyonce, made a cameo at the last show.
Second, I was surprised by the amount of fans that showed up wearing Brooklyn Nets gear. Yes, we were in Brooklyn, but it seems that the patrons were identifying with the Nets as much as they were Jay-Z.
In my non-scientific estimate, I would say at least 30 percent of the fans that attended the shows—a multi-ethnic group between the ages of 21 and 40—wore some type of Brooklyn Nets apparel. The apparel I saw most often was the “No Sleep Till Brooklyn” t-shirt, a Brooklyn Nets product available at the NBA store for $24.99. This was, by far, the most popular product.
There were also many Deron Williams jerseys. The NBA All-Star point guard who wears “8” for the Nets was probably second most popular. The Williams jersey and other player jerseys range from $59.99 to $249.99.
I also saw a few limited edition Jay-Z Brooklyn Nets jerseys in the crowd. These jerseys were sold after Jay-Z’s first performance on September 28, and were sold exclusively at the NBA Store for $299.99. Each jersey had the number “4” and Carter on the back, as well as a date corresponding with one of the eight shows. Amongst the crowd, there were also thousands of Brooklyn Nets hats and caps.
As the Nets begin their first season in Brooklyn, it will be interesting to see if they enjoy the type of support for their home games that Jay-Z enjoyed during his run of concerts. The more interesting question that remains to be answered is whether the fans that showed up wearing Nets apparel spent their hard earned dollars on Nets gear because they wanted to symbolize respect for and support of Jay-Z, or if they are genuinely excited about the prospect of Brooklyn having its own NBA team.
I had the opportunity to speak to many Nets fans about their clothing selections, and received varying opinions. When I spoke to a young Brooklynite named Ricky, he told me that “I know Jay has this saying ‘All Black Everything’ and I wanted to represent that and Brooklyn.”
When I asked a Long Islander, Mike, about his pro-Nets wardrobe, he said “I’m a fan of the team also so it was a dual purpose.” Mike also told me that he was a fan of the Nets even when they were in New Jersey. But yes, he is also a Jay-Z fan.
Maurice Ross from East New York had similar thoughts. “I’m from Brooklyn, from East New York,” he told me. He implied that his “Brooklyn pride” would not allow him to wear anything else. Another Brooklynite, Ashley, had similar thoughts. She said “I’m from Brooklyn… [It’s] always good to support my borough.”
I actually spoke to another Ashley from Brooklyn, Ashley Woods, and while she supports her borough as well, that support stems to the Nets, “I was never a Nets fan,” she said, “But I’m always going to root for a team from Brooklyn, no questions asked.”
Dominique Daniels had a similar pro-Brooklyn response. “I feel like it’s reppen’ Jay. What he’s done for Brooklyn and how I feel like he’s put a staple in our community.” She then referenced a quoted a line that Jay-Z said at the concert, “We don’t have to be good, we can be great.”
Still, there were many others wearing Brooklyn Nets gear who had no attachment to the team. A concert goer from the Bronx, Anthony, wore a Deron Williams jersey, despite being a fan of the rival New York Knicks. He said “I’m a Knicks fan! But this is the only Net I can bear to wear.” His friend Michael had a similar response. “I’m a Knicks fan too, die hard, but when in Rome do as the Romans do.”
Steven, another patron with whom I spoke, had a more fashionable response to my question of what inspired his wardrobe choices, which included a Nets cap. “It looks good. I’m a Lakers fan but it matched my clothes,” he said.
Moving forward, it will be interesting to see; were the majority of Nets apparel wearers Brooklyn Nets fans? Or simply Jay-Z fans?
We’ll find out when the Nets play their first ever game in Barclays Center on October 15. That’s when the Washington Wizards come to town for the Nets second preseason game.