The other day I realized as I was taking my compost to Grand Army Plaza while listening to the Moth on my iPod that I ruined Brooklyn. I am gentrification. I am that vegan coffee shop where you used to cop dope. I, a thirty-something in Park Slope, am not keeping it real. Catching myself in that moment, though, didn’t bring a sense of lost authenticity, it brought relief. I shrugged my shoulders and walked on to the farmer’s market.
My girlfriend got me Brooklyn Nets tickets for Christmas. We were going to the Nets – Mavericks game. I was excited. After watching an actual game with Shaun Livingston and Kevin Garnett and that really bizarre shiny helmeted mascot, a game that included Mirza Teletovic draining 7 three pointers, I was hooked. I am now a Brooklyn Nets fan.
Confession: I bought a Brooklyn Nets hat before ever going to or watching a game. I didn’t grow up playing basketball. I am not only bad at basketball, I’m bad at horse. I paid attention to basketball during Linsanity. I know Spike Lee sits courtside at Knicks games. I know who Shaq, Kobe and LeBron are. I don’t live under a rock but I was just never a basketball fan.
I’ve lived in Brooklyn for almost fourteen years. I wasn’t born here but I was conceived here (it’s a short story). I lived in Williamsburg for twelve years. I’ve lived in Park Slope for almost two. These credentials don’t make me an authentic Brooklynite but, unfortunately for some, it makes me a firm resident, one who isn’t leaving any time soon.
When I saw that the Barclays Center was opening, I wasn’t upset for the loss of the Atlantic Yards or the infiltration of yet another corporate monstrosity, I was excited for the new basketball team. Sure, they were owned by a Russian oligarch and they were stolen from Newark but I didn’t care. I had a basketball team to follow, one down the street from my apartment.
I feel like I’m jumping on a bandwagon here but, frankly, I’m completely okay with that.
The bandwagon fan is the definition of inauthentic. Every cheer of a bandwagon fan is like a dagger in the heart of a true fan. The true fan, you see, has watched his team lose and shown up to the next game to watch it again. The true fan has tolerated pain and heartbreak at the hands of his team and now that the team is winning, in comes the bandwagon fan to reap the rewards like a cruel carpetbagger in a brand new jersey. (The true fan is also the one who started using words like “pain” and “heartbreak” when describing a loss by his chosen team.)
But here’s the thing: at some point, every fan is on the bandwagon. My friends who like the 49ers started watching when Joe Montana and Jerry Rice were on the team. These were friends who had no allegiance to San Francisco from upstate New York. They were just kids who liked watching a winning team. They are now in their thirties and no one questions their allegiance, proving that sometimes the only difference between the bandwagon and true fan is time.
I live off of fifth avenue in Park Slope and these days it’s a great place to get some frozen yogurt, a vegan sandwich, or a craft beer in a wood panelled bar. When Joe Montana was the quarterback for the 49ers and Brooklyn was far more authentic, fifth avenue was a great place to get crack. The only difference is time.
Last night the Nets lost to the Pistons but in the second half, the bench players made a devastating loss more respectable. After Paul Pierce had called on the bench players to step up, Teague, Terry and Plumlee played like it mattered. It was cool to see. I watched until the end.
(Yeah, I was desperately trying to prove that I’m a fan. Come on, man, let it slide.)
Things change, we forget or we stop caring. I’m a Nets fan and, for now, I’ve ruined Brooklyn. Check back with me in twenty years.