The Barclays Center Experience


Barclays Center is the home of the Brooklyn Nets and thousands of Nets fans come out every game to cheer on their favorite team. When I would go to Barclays Center that’s what I would do. I would go to the game, cheer on the Nets, then go home. I love the Nets don’t get me wrong, but the process gets dull and repetitive after a while and I was searching for a way to make my experience of going to a Nets game even more enjoyable. I saw on Facebook one day a picture in the group Brooklyn Nets Basketball of a group of Nets fans at the game together and instantly I made it a goal to meet up with people from that group at a game eventually. We are told at a young age that the internet is dangerous, so I never expected to build strong friendships with people from talking on Facebook and meeting up at Nets games.

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I made a post in the group saying that I’ll be at the game tonight, I thought that nobody cared but later on in the day I received a message from Dawn Risueno telling me to meet up at section 3 before the game. I went to section 3 never meeting Dawn and after meeting her once I knew that every single game that I went to Barclays Center from that point on I had to stop by and say hello. Dawn is a life-long Nets fan and she has had season tickets since the team moved to Brooklyn. Dawn is on a first name basis with a lot of the Nets players and analysts and when she gets the chance, Dawn travels with the team on the road to cheer on her Nets. I asked Dawn what her favorite part about going to a Nets game was and she couldn’t narrow it down to just one thing, instead she gave multiple answers.

"“Being friendly with Sarah(Kustok)and Lenn(Robbins), getting my song requests played by the DJ, interactions with the homies Team Hype and the Brooklynettes, having other fans coming by to say they saw you on Bleacher Report.”"

Michael Skeen has been a Nets fan for 16 years and he had the honor of meeting Dawn this year as well. “Dawn is a great person that loves the Nets and Brooklyn.” Skeen said. If you go to a Nets game stop by Section 3, it’s the first section that you see when you enter Barclays Center. Even if you don’t know Dawn personally introduce yourself, I guarantee that you won’t regret it and she will make you feel like you’re at home, Dawn loves meeting new people, that’s apart of what she loves about going to every single game. Once you meet Dawn there are other terrific activities that go on at Barclays Center.

The Nets tremendous dance team the Brooklynettes are signing autographs and taking pictures for free for anybody that wants one. Not many teams allow for fans to get that bonus of meeting their favorite team’s dancers but the Nets allow for that to happen before every single game. At times raffles are also being held for a chance to win signed memorabilia. Keep in mind, this is all simply pre-game stuff. We haven’t even gotten into the main reason why everybody comes to Barclays Center, to watch the Brooklyn Nets play.

While watching the Nets play watch real closely while the opposition is taking a free throw. When you look under the basket by the baseline, you’ll notice a man standing up, heckling the opposing player and waving his hands in the air. That’s not just a random fan, that man is Mr. Whammy. Bruce Reznick is his full name but all Nets fans know him as Mr. Whammy, his intent is to hex the opposing free throw shooters and he once said that nobody has blocked more free throws than him.

Reznick is a long-time lawyer and he has been a season ticket holder for over 16 years. It’s safe to say that Reznick is famous around Nets fans, but that doesn’t stop him from taking pictures and talking to all Nets fans that say hello to him. I saw Mr. Whammy at Barclays Center earlier this season, I was wearing an old school New Jersey Nets hat and he stopped in front of me, poked the brim of my hat and said to me “I love your hat, go Nets.” Reznick has become so ideal that he was a 2013 finalist for the ESPN Fan Hall of Fame. Dawn and Mr. Whammy aren’t the only die-hard fans that you’ll find at Barclays Center.

The Brooklyn Brigade  is a group of die-hard Brooklyn Nets fans who love coming out and supporting their team. The Brigade welcomes people to sit with them during games, under one condition. You must be loud. If you go to a Nets game and hear a section chanting and supporting their team at a high volume, it’s the Brigade. The Brigade was kind enough to let me sit with them during the Nets open practice before the season started and it was an unbelievable experience. It’s hard to imagine that a group of fans could be that loud and that type of passion caught the Nets organizations attention

The Nets often show the Brigade on the jumbotron and on Friday night when the Nets took on the Toronto Raptors, the Brigade had a life changing experience. Irina Pavlova, who is the president of ONEXIM Sports and Entertainment arranged for the Brigade to get the opportunity to watch the Nets take on the Raptors from owner Mikhail Prokhorov’s suite.

I spoke to Brooklyn Brigade member Zac Cullen and I asked him how exactly the Brigade formed and here’s what he told me.

"“The Brigade formed in Brooklyn right after Brook(Lopez) wasn’t selected to be an All Star. A post on Nets Daily by Gotham Gooner asking for people to get together and support Brook. After that we took off. The Playoffs were when we fully formed and for the past two seasons we have been getting better and better.”"

For Cullen, there is nothing like going to a Nets game with his Brigade family. I asked Cullen what his favorite part about going to a game with his Brigade family is and here’s what he had to say.

"“The best part about going to the games is that everyone in the group is just like me. They want to chant, be loud and stand up during the game when we are able to. When I go to a game by myself it feels so boring when I’m not with the rest of the group.”"

Henry Hall has been a season ticket holder since the 2009-2010 season and he always supports his Nets. Hall traveled from Brooklyn to Newark to watch the Nets when they were in New Jersey and now he travels from New Jersey to Brooklyn. I asked Henry what his favorite part about going to a Nets game is and here’s what he told me.

"“My favorite part is being able to experience live action up close and personal and having the pleasure of representing my team from states where I’ve been a resident (NJ and NY), being a season ticket holder since the 12-70 season and having my team be a part of the borough where I was born and raised: BROOKLYN! This organization has treated me with class and dignity and I would NEVER leave!"

Jeffrey Gamblero was hard to miss at Barclays Center. Gamblero would often be shown on the jumbotron and he would always be seen wearing his neon colored shirt underneath his black Nets jersey. Although Gamblero is no longer with us, he left a lasting impression on a bunch of people and Dawn Risueno spoke to me about what Gamblero meant to her.

"“Jeffrey to me meant fun. He was about life, partying at the game, cheering for our guys, letting them know that we were here for them. He never had a bad thing to say about anyone. One game he came over to visit me in our section and the girls didn’t know him so he mentioned my name and they let him in. When he came to me he said ‘damn it’s hard to get in to see the king and queen.’ That’s what Jeffrey meant to me.”"

The Barclays Center is now like a second home to me and as you can see in this article it’s a second home to a lot of others also. There’s a lot of great people that I’ve had the fortune of meeting and it was great to hear about other people’s experiences as well.

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