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At the "the brand identity launch of the Brooklyn Nets": new merchandise, global reach, "Community Week," and the continued invocation of Jay-Z

It was about Brooklyn, but it was, of course, about business: logos, t-shirts, hats, and other Brooklyn Nets merchandise at the Modell's across from the in-construction Barclays Center arena.

In a press conference/pep rally this morning, before the press and Nets-related staffers, MC David Diamante introduced what he called "the brand identity launch of the Brooklyn Nets."

The black-and-white logos had already emerged, though other "secondary marks" were new, such as the "Brownstone Ballers, "Brooklyn's Finest," and "No Sleep Til Brooklyn" shirts.

And yes, while the Nets also introduced some warm-n-fuzzy Community Week events, more important was the worldwide publicity, accentuated by NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver.

He declared, "We're very excited to take Brooklyn and bring it to 215 countries around the world. We couldn't be more excited about the Jay-Z-inspired and -designed black-and-white logo, which we think is going to be a huge hit in markets all around the world.

The caps, as indicated in the photo at left, cost $26--surely not an atypical price for NBA merchandise, but a sign of how the cachet of Brooklyn can add up to big bucks.

"The Brooklyn Nets are finally part of the conversation," declared Nets/Barclays CEO Brett Yormark, and he was surely right.

Designed by Jay-Z?

Nets brass continued to maintain that the logos were designed by Jay-Z, though actual design work seems beyond his tastemaking skill set and NetsDaily's Net Income/Bob Windrem suggests another designer did the nitty-gritty work.

 (David Roth, writing in Capital New York, calls Jay-Z the team's "resident Brooklyn-credibility totem."

An unscientifc poll on TMZ (right) gave thumbs down to the logo, as did New York's Seth Rosenthal, though there certainly was a lot of #HelloBrooklyn enthusiasm on Twitter and the one branding expert quoted by the Times offered praise.

A poll of sports fans on SB Nation, below left, was also positive.

Beyond the merch: tickets

Substantial if not overwhelming crowds--well over 100 people--lined up for Nets' merchandise outside Modell's (below right photo) and on the Atlantic Terminal plaza (bottom video) to buy season tickets--before either of the lines actually moved. (The line at Modell's was goosed by the promise of ticket vouchers for the first 100 people to the opening game next season, as noted in the Daily News.)

A larger group lined up to shoot free throws and get a chance at a Community Week t-shirt (below left).

The numbers were likely diminished because it was a work day. The Nets put 1000 season tickets, at all price points, up for sale to Brooklynites.

"Screecher seats"?

How many of the $15 seats, of which there should be 2,000, were for sale? Nets spokesman Barry Baum said people could buy at whatever price point they chose.

Would the much-promised $15 screecher seats be available as single-game tickets or solely as season tickets? Baum said, "At this point, we haven't determined [it]."

The Nets Experience van (below left) was also at Atlantic Terminal.

The unresolved Nets

While the Nets brought center Brook Lopez to model a new hat, the future of the team is uncertain.

"The Nets will not bring much to Brooklyn, besides novelty and hope," wrote Roth in Capital New York.

Still, Borough President Marty Markowitz addressed General Manager Billy King with a sense of ownership: "Billy, we gotta come in with fire."

And King later responded, "We're not going to try to build slowly.... So next year at this time, we'll be playing on TV and the Barclays Center will be rocking."

Ratner revises history?

Just as Jay-Z is described as a "cultural icon," Bruce Ratner gets introduced as as "a man who has led the renaissance of Brooklyn."

Ratner said, "I looked at my calendar, and it's been one decade--ten years--since I started discussing it with Marty Markowitz. It's taken ten years 'til officially they are the Brooklyn Nets!"

If it has been ten years, since May 2002, then that further revises the creation tale told by Markowitz in a New Yorker profile, that he picked up the phone in the fall of 2002 to tell Ratner the Nets were up for sale.

After all, as I reported in April 2007, Forest City Ratner reserved the URL the inchoate Atlantic Yards or even an arena in Coney Island--on 3/27/02.

Hockey in Brooklyn?

After the event, there was an opportunity for one-on-one interviews. No one, I'd bet, asked about the developer's promises of jobs and housing.

An AP reporter, apparently looking for an angle, quoted Bruce Ratner as saying the arena "was made for hockey and basketball... It could easily support a hockey team."

Well, while it probably could support a hockey team, it was most certainly not "made for hockey and basketball." After all, Ratner's construction chief, Bob Sanna, said last year, "we made some pretty deliberate decisions early on: we weren't going to have a [major league] hockey team."

Nets/Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark & Brook Lopez

The event began with Diamante. "It's especially exciting for me as a fifth-generation Brooklynite," declared the announcer, who actually was raised outside Washington, DC. "It's going to be the best sports and entertainment venue in the world."

Yormark took the mic and first thanked "our marketing team." He said he'd received emails from Italy, China, France, Spain, and Russia, asking where they could get their Brooklyn Nets merchandise. < "But most importantly, I also received an email from a young Brooklyn mother," Yormark continued. "And she said, My son is two. Today, he will officially become a Brooklyn Nets fan. Ladies and gentlemen, the Brooklyn Nets are finally part of the conversation, and I'm so thrilled to be here."

"We are thrilled to unveil the brand identity of the Brooklyn Nets, and to launch the next chapter in our team's history," he continued. "The brand identity has been created by Jay-Z. Who better than the number one tastemaker in the world to design our color palette and logos? And who knows better about Brooklyn than Jay-Z?"

"With the black-and-white colors and the design of the logos, Jay-Z has truly captured the coolness and self-confidence of the borough," Yormark said. "It truly is Brooklyn."

"The colors and logos speak to Brooklyn's strong history and heritage," he said. "They differentiate us. Just like Brooklyn is different from anywhere in the world, we will be the only NBA team with only black-and-white as colors."

"It's a bold new direction for the Nets team," he said, suggesting the the look evoked the subway system of the city during the last time Brooklyn had a home team.
"We will be Brooklyn's home team," he said, then gave 7' Nets center Brook Lopez a Brooklyn Nets hat.

Lopez, at the end of the video, stayed mostly on message, praising Jay-Z for creating the logo and citing the return of a sports team after more than 50 years.  "We have been working hard to be the team that they really deserve," he said of Brooklynites.

Forest City Ratner CEO Bruce Ratner

A beaming Ratner said, "I looked at my calendar, and it's been one decade--ten years--since I started discussing it with Marty Markowitz. It's taken ten years 'til officially they are the Brooklyn Nets!"

"Ladies and gentlemen, the curse of O'Malley is officially over today!" he continued, offering many thanks. "The most important thing, I would do it again," he added, saluting "the great borough, city, and country of Brooklyn, USA."

Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz

Introducing Markowitz, Diamante said "it was his idea for Mr. Ratner to buy the Nets and move them to Brooklyn." Markowitz addressed GM Billy King with familiarity and no small amount of ownership: "Billy, we gotta come in with fire.... and show not only Brooklynites, but the country, and the world--that it all starts right here, in Brooklyn."

"The ghosts of Ebbets Field, I can see them departing, bye-bye" Markowitz declared. "Bruce Ratner, I must tell you, it was ten years ago when I started my phone calls, bugging this man, a team, what are you tawking about?"

"He didn't know which team," Ratner interjected jocularly, which suggests that Markowitz may have started before the Nets were for sale.

"He had the vision... I just wanted an arena, and a team. Of course, that's why he's so successful, because he stuck with it," Markowitz said, not mentioning that, as of now, an arena and a team--not "jobs and housing"--are what have been delivered.

"Now, we begin very very shortly," Markowitz said. "It's a game changer for our borough.

"I know what our Brooklyn Dodgers meant to the fabric of Brooklyn," Markowitz said, then, wisely didn't try to draw a parallel. "That was then, this is now. It's a new era, a new time. But how lucky the kids are, and their families, that they'll have a chance to cheer for the Brooklyn Nets, and all the other great things that'll be going on."

"To me, whatever the design is, as long as it says Brooklyn, I'm thrilled," said Markowitz, offering Ratner a declaration and a proclamation.

Onexim's Irina Pavlova

[Only partial remarks recorded]

Principal Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov wasn't there, but his deputy Irina Pavlova was, and she pledged, "We will strive to be the best, and we won't stop til we get there. After all this is what Brooklyn is all about, this is what fans expect of us, and we plan to deliver."

"We're very excited to become an integral part of the Brooklyn community," Pavlova said, saying they would show a commitment "to improving people's lives."

Yormark announces Community Week

Yormark announced the launch of Brooklyn Nets Community Week. "We're looking forward to serving an active role in our new borough, and meeting our new neighbors," he said.

The events this week include:
  • Tuesday, May 1 - EDUCATION;  Nets employees will read to kids at 22 neighborhood libraries throughout Brooklyn. 
  • Wednesday, May 2 – ATHLETICS;  Brooklyn Nets CEO Brett Yormark and 500 kids (ages 12-14) from local YMCA's will compete in sports clinics at the Park Slope Armory YMCA
  • Thursday, May 3 – HEALTH AND WELLNESS;  LIU Brooklyn students, faculty, and staff, Crunch Fitness instructors, and health care providers from Maimonides Medical Center and MJHS will hold  health screenings and classes at Long Island University Brooklyn
  • Friday May 4 – COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT; 50 local volunteers will participate in landscaping and painting projects in Prospect Park.

The week is sponsored by Brooklyn Water Bagel, Crunch Fitness, Foxwoods Resort Casino, Maimonides Medical Center, and MJHS (a charitable not-for-profit health system). The medical center is the team's official hospital. Several executives, led by President Pam Brier, then took the dais.

Below is the hospital's official promo video:

NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver

"Brooklyn is of course a global city," Silver said, "and in many ways parallels the NBA."

"Our games are seen in over 215 countries, and televised in 47 languages, plus Brooklynese, so there's a perfect fit between Brooklyn and the NBA," he said.

"We're very excited to take Brooklyn and bring it to 215 countries around the world," Silver declared. "We couldn't be more excited about the Jay-Z-inspired and -designed black-and-white logo, which we think is going to be a huge hit in markets all around the world. And Brooklyn, welcome to the NBA."

I suspect the logo is more "vetted" by Jay-Z than "designed" by him.

Nets Coach Avery Johnson

Johnson, who's from New Orleans, doesn't sound like a local. It may not matter if, as he predicted optimistically, "when we sell out every night at the Barclays Center, and everybody's saying Brooklyn, Brooklyn, Brooklyn."

Nets GM Billy King

"Were going to put together a team that Brooklyn can be proud of," said King. "This has been talked about amongst players, GMs, and owners throughout the league. Brooklyn has something that people want to talk about. The Barclays Center is something they have been talking about. It makes my job a lot easier now."

"I think you'll see this worn everywhere," he said of the logo.

"We'll put a team on the court that's going to play hard," King predicted. "We're not going to try to build slowly.... So next year at this time, we'll be playing on TV and the Barclays Center is rocking."

Mitchell Modell of Modell's

Mitchell Modell, introduced as the most successful sports apparel retailer in the area, thanked the store's "associates" who worked through the night to set up the merchandise. He praised Ratner for his "relentlessness and "passion."

Waiting for tickets

The lines of people waiting for season tickets in the plaza outside Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Terminal mall.

Experience Van outside Atlantic Terminal
Playing hip-hop for people waiting to try their luck in a free-throw contest.


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