The Brooklyn Nets haven’t had a mascot since their first two seasons at the Barclays Center. Should they bring back a familiar face?
The Brooklyn Nets move to Brooklyn was monumental for the franchise and the borough. As the first sports franchise to play in Brooklyn since the Dodgers, the Nets felt they needed to make a big splash.
Even after building the billion-dollar Barclays Center, the Nets wanted to bring even more excitement to their arrival. Hence, the arrival of the BrooklyKnight.
The BrooklyKnight was the Nets’ first and only attempt at a mascot. The result of an expensive consulting deal with Marvel, the Knight attempted to take over Nets fandom with black spandex and a shiny mask.
The Knight sported shiny shoulder pads with chains made to resemble basketball nets coming down from the sides, along with the Nets alternative logo on promptly displayed on his chest and shield (because all knights need to have a shield, right?).
His mask looked like the product of a nursery school art project. It was horrifying, weird, and, ultimately, uncomfortable for the fans. The man had no face. All you could see were his white eyes. The rest of his face was hidden by this shiny piece of plastic they passed off as his mask.
To cap it all off, the Knight would crusade around Brooklyn to different events in a black van that was decorated with a drawing of the BrooklynKnight himself. He was like a low tech Batman in a horrific costume.
The BrooklyKnight was not the hero Gotham needed, and he definitely wasn’t the hero Brooklyn needed. After a two-season stint, the Knight was kicked out of Brooklyn.
I don’t think a single Nets fan cared. Sort of ironic that the Knight’s stint overlapped with that of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, two washed-up stars in whom the Nets were deeply and foolishly invested.
Just like Pierce and Garnett, the Knight’s stint in Brooklyn was short, but the future of Nets in-game entertainment remains intact.
Right now, the in-game entertainment at Barclays Center is, in a word, average. Host Miss Ally Love is accompanied by Team Hype and the Brooklynettes.
Team Hype comes out to do trampoline dunks once a game and shoot t-shirts into the crowd. The Brooklynettes perform a rotated dance routine after the first and third quarters, along with the occasional t-shirt throw.
There was a stretch during the 2019-2020 season where I went to two-to-three games within two weeks, and the Brooklynettes did the same dance routine for all those games. Literally watching a broken record.
Maybe that is all they should be doing. But, maybe, just maybe they could be more entertaining. They could be a genuine source of hype for the games.
Maybe in-game entertainment isn’t the issue we should be focusing on as Nets fans. Maybe I should tell you why KD shouldn’t play in the Disney World playoffs, or why Bradley Beal isn’t a good fit, or why Nicolas Claxton could be the most essential bench player in the 2020-2021 season.
But throughout this unanticipated, certainly unwanted, basketball hiatus, we all have a little extra time to consider how the Nets could make the experience of the game more enticing.
When I think of a mascot, I think of the Phillie Phanatic of the Philadelphia Phillies. He has been a prominent figure in the Phillies sports family since 1978.
The Nets tried to recreate that with the Knight, and that’s where they went wrong. The team name, the Nets, represent an inanimate object, literally the net of a basketball hoop. So, in essence, finding the right mascot could be a huge challenge.
But Nets games at Barclays Center usually hosts some of the biggest stars in the world, whether it be Saquon Barkley or Sir Paul McCartney. Highlighting their presence, even if only for a minute, would be a big draw for the crowds.
Even something as simple as bowing down to Emilia Clarke like the Rockets’ mascot (which isn’t a rocket) did when she visited a game at the Toyota Center during the 2019-2020 season engages the fans.
Brooklyn has unprecedented access to celebrities, something few other arenas or stadiums can boast. I know these people are going to the game to enjoy basketball, but who doesn’t want to go on the court at an NBA game?
The Barclays Center is a work of art. I’m happy to be a fan of the NBA team that plays there. When fans come to the arena to catch a game, timeout breaks should keep fans entertained.
Nets basketball isn’t returning to Barclays until at least December 1st, 2020, and with the NBA’s return in late July, the possible return of Kyrie and KD will excite Nets fans worldwide.
But, hopefully, the Nets organization, Joe Tsai and the powers that be will look to improve the in-game entertainment factor at Barclays Center as they attempt to keep fans off their phones and in the game. Just don’t bring back the Knight.