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"The Brooklyn Way"? Nets feature endearing kids (whose bromides kinda sound like Jay-Z!) to mark a not-totally-celebratory ten-year anniversary.

From the Brooklyn Nets
The tenth anniversary of the Barclays Center came and went on Sept. 28, and it was no time for celebration, perhaps because the revamp of the arena's SeakGeek Plaza still wasn't finished. 

(Presumably most of that work will be ready by the Brooklyn Nets' home debut tomorrow.)

But there's no way that Joe Tsai's Brooklyn Nets--he also owns the arena operating company--would let the ten-year anniversary go unremarked, so yesterday they announced... The Brooklyn Way.

Or, maybe, #HelloBrooklyn ten years later, again leaning on the borough's brand, inflected by hip-hop.

What's notable, though, is what the "sports entertainment corporation" (in the piquant phrase of subsidy skeptic Bettina Damiani) can't celebrate (um, basketball success), and what they leave out (the rest of the project that was supposed to serve Brooklynites with jobs and affordable housing).

Brooklyn identity

The new campaign echoes that Biggie Smalls line, "Spread love, it's the Brooklyn way," with new branding for signage and more. From the announcement:
On the occasion of the Nets celebrating 10 years in Brooklyn, the team is debuting The Brooklyn Way – reflecting the Brooklyn ethos that encapsulates the community and culture of the borough. As the Nets planted roots in Brooklyn over the past decade, the team has been inspired by the spirit of the people of Brooklyn. The Brooklyn Way will come to life at Barclays Center, throughout the community, and be imbued in the way the team communicates with its fans.
“Brooklyn has a distinct identity, comprised of diverse, driven, and passionate people that embody the spirit of The Brooklyn Way,” claimed Andrew Karson, Senior Vice President of Brand Marketing, Strategy & Solutions, BSE Global. 

Channeling Jay-Z

Well, to back up such dubiously essentialist claims, they released the video below, featuring endearing kids, described as "the first generation of born-and-bred Nets fans, 10-year-olds, giving their unique perspective on what The Brooklyn Way means to them."

It seems to me that, consciously or not, the Nets are channeling Jay-Z, their former "Brooklyn-credibility totem" (to quote journalist David Roth).

When Jay-Z was interviewed by Charlie Rose in November 2007, he was asked, at 48:50 about the future Brooklyn Nets: "Can you take New York's heart away from the Knicks?" 

"Brooklyn, you notice, when we love something, when we get into something, our love for it is unmatched," Jay-Z responded.

From Charlie Rose interview
Sure thing. 

Remember, as essayist Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah observed, "Jay-Z is a natural orator; he can say much or nothing, and it not only sounds good, it also sounds heartfelt." 

How it was conceived, maybe

So let me imagine the dialogue between, say, the Brooklyn Nets (BN) representative and two representatives of advertising/branding firm Weiden+Kennedy New York (WK1 and WK2).

WK1: So, whaddya got? How have the Nets been over ten years?

BN: What do I know? I came in with the current ownership. There's been three owners: Bruce Ratner, Mikhail Prokhorov, and Joe Tsai. He's had full control since 2019.

WK2: OK, what about the players. Anyone here ten years?

BN: No way.

WK2: Five years?

BN: Well, one guy. But he's been injured.

WK1: Coaches? 

BN: Hahaha. We've had tons of coaches. Let me see if I can say them in one breath: Avery Johnson, P.J. Carlesimo, Jason Kidd, Lionel Hollins, Tony Brown, Kenny Atkinson, Jacque Vaughn, and Steve Nash.

WK2: Well, who speaks for Brooklyn?

WK1: I've been doing some research.

BN: Tell me more.

WK1: Well, there's this Charlie Rose interview, and Jay-Z is absolutely... magic.

BN: Sounds good. Can we get Jay back?

WK2: Probably not. He's got a sports agency.

WK1: But... who sounds like Jay-Z?

WK2: Kids.

BN: Kids?

WK1: Everyone loves kids. We'll get cute kids who make generalizations about Brooklyn that make us all feel good. Layer on some music, scenes of Brooklyn streets, buildings, the Brooklyn Bridge. The Nets get a halo by association.


A few weeks later, they preview the video.

BN: "The Brooklyn Way"?

WK2: I mean, it's been used by others, not just Biggie, but also the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership and a sports podcaster guy. It's malleable.

BN: That first kid has a great line.

"I would describe Brooklyn as colorful, comforting, and welcoming."

WK1: We're ahead of you. Don't worry, no one will think about how Brooklyn Nets' ticket prices have gotten mad expensive.

"What makes Brooklyn so beautiful is the brownstones, I think the buildings."

BN: Um, weren't row houses demolished to make the arena? 

WK2: Don't worry. We're pretty much ignoring that associated real estate project, what is it called--Atlantic Park?

WK1: No. It was originally Atlantic Yards. Now it's Pacific Park. 

BN: We have nothing to do with it. Previous owners did, though. 

WK1: Heh. "Jobs, housing, and hoops." I remember seeing a button with that phrase.

"People from Brooklyn have the ability to express in any way possible and are not afraid to do so."

WK1: Damn, doesn't that kinda sound like Jay-Z?

WK:2: Absolutely.

BN: Yes, but... I do notice that most of the kids here are Black, and our fan base is the whole borough--and beyond.

WK1: We do have a white kid or two.

WK2: You want a Orthodox Jewish kid repping "The Brooklyn Way"? That's a Biggie quote.

WK1: A Hispanic kid? An Asian kid?

BN: Our owner is Asian-American. Or, I guess, technically Taiwanese-Canadian. He lives in La Jolla and Hong Kong and sometimes in a supertall in Manhattan. He makes his money in China. He's kinda international, I guess. So is the NBA.

WK2: Well, you can't argue with what these kids say.

"Brooklyn taught me that I don't need to change who I am for other people. I just need to make myself happy."

WK1: C'mon, doesn't that sound a lot like Jay?

BN: You have a point.

"Brooklyn is beautiful, and I'd say that it is a wondrous place to live."

BN: To be technical, parts of it are beautiful and other parts maybe not so much?

WK1: The Barclays Center and the Nets are beautiful and wondrous. That's our story, and we're sticking to it.

Via NetsDaily
BN: Roger that.

WK2: Yes, they are. Even SeatGeek Plaza. Or, frankly, SeatGeek anything. 

"I'm just happy to be here."

BN: Us too. Good job, guys. 

WK1: It may not say much, but it's a "blueprint for greatness."

More from the press release

  • 10 Years in Brooklyn Celebrations - The Nets will host 10 Years in Brooklyn Celebration games at Barclays Center with special giveaways. The programming will be representative of The Brooklyn Way by focusing on the unique culture and community of the borough across five pillars: Basketball, Music, Fashion, Food and The Arts. The first 10 Years in Brooklyn Celebration game is November 1 when the Nets take on the Chicago Bulls.
  • 10 Creators - To further amplify programming around the five pillars, the Nets are partnering with 10 renowned Brooklyn creators across industries to deliver unique collaborations for fans, including film productions, musical performances and more. The 10 Creators will be announced on November 1, the day of the first 10 Years in Brooklyn Celebration game.
  • Displays - Barclays Center will install a mosaic comprised of fan-submitted photos from select events throughout the arena’s first decade that will be unveiled on November 30. Additionally, the original Barclays Center logo from the first-ever Brooklyn Nets court will be on display this season in the entryway at the top of Sections 1 and 31.
  • Talent Showcase - The team will host an open call audition to find Brooklyn’s best emerging talent amongst musicians, singers, dancers and comedians, and select finalists will have the opportunity to perform at Nets games this season. Details for the audition will be announced in the coming months.
Special Merchandise
  • Merch Collections - The Nets will also debut two commemorative merchandise collections that will be sold online at and in the team store at Barclays Center, Brooklyn Fanatics, beginning October 19.
  • 10 Year Diamond Chain - The team has collaborated with luxury jewelry designer Avi & Co. to create a custom diamond chain necklace with a pendant of the Nets’ 10 Year logo. The custom piece can be seen at select Nets home games this season where special guests will have the opportunity to wear it. Click HERE for an image of the 10 Year chain.
The Nets will also bring the 10 Years in Brooklyn celebration to life through various community programs around youth basketball and murals, and engage with local businesses in grassroots efforts to elevate the five cultural pillars.