I made it so you could say Marcy and it was all good. I ‘aint cross over, I brought the suburbs to the hood. Made ’em relate to your struggle, told ’em bout your hustle. Went on MTV with du-rags. I made them love you. You know normally them people wouldn’t be f—ing wit you, til I made ’em understand why you do what you do. I expected to hear, ‘Jay, if it wasn’t for you’….
Shawn Carter bought a basketball team. Well, technically he bought one-fifteenth of one percent of a basketball team, but who’s counting? Regardless, the savvy branding of his recent purchase has blanketed the borough in black and white. Brooklyn Nets apparel is no longer solely in support of a franchise, but of a culture. Their snapbacks are the manifestation of a dream, their owner’s jersey sells more than anyone else on the team, and a short stroll from the Barclay’s Center holds the reason why.
560 State St is an inconspicuous little apartment complex tucked in a corner off Atlantic Ave. Traffic buzzes by to and from Manhattan, hardly slowing for the simple storefronts and buildings on the block. I can’t attest to its appearance twenty years ago, but if it was in any condition similar to its current state, it was the perfect place to stash your crack. Twenty years later, Shawn Carter can boast of these facts in song to the enjoyment of socialites and drug dealers alike. They revel in his tales of hopelessness, resilience, and opulence. We needed a new Sinatra and he’s willingly, if not expertly filled that role. He’s many things to many people;a trip to any one of his eight consecutive sold out concerts christening Barclay’s Center can attest to this, for surely there were more than a few Republicans amongst those thousand dollar floor seats. But perhaps most of all, to the jaded residents of Brooklyn, untouched by gentrification and swathed in poverty, he’s an inspiration. His route will never be duplicated, yet it remains as dose of reality keeping the weakened cliche of anything being possible, palatable. His courtside seat remained noticeably empty Monday night, only because he was five hundred miles away in Ohio, stumping for the man who branded hope, Barack Obama, on election eve.
Shawn Carter has lived a full life. Most importantly, he lived it his way, melding his former and current worlds under one roof. As much, if not more than ever before, Brooklyn is a planet unto itself; the epicenter of cool. The Minnesota Timberwolves aren’t that cool–at least not to Brooklynites–but they are the only ones who left Barclay’s Center happy last night. Besides me, of course. There’s no new billion dollar arena in Minneapolis and our offseason acquisitions would hardly evoke much more than laughter from the jetset. However, those of us who’ve been paying attention are equally excited as our friends on Atlantic Ave about the dawn of a new day.
I’ve expressed similar optimism in previous years, if only due to fatigue, but this time feels different. Warranted, even. Granted, things started the same for our boys in this contest–outmatched and overwhelmed–as Deron Williams danced through our defensive schemes and dished to open teammates. The floodgates opened for a deluge of three pointers and then Brook Lopez went to work on our frontcourt, looking every bit the part of the premier center he’s handsomely paid to be. Before we knew it, the Nets opened up a 22 point lead. Familiar territory, I know, yet there was solace to be taken in the fact that we were missing two All-Star caliber starters. This time the deficit was due to injuries, not ineptitude. We then waded down another familiar path; the determined comeback. Brooklyn sat many of their starters, leaving the Wolves to cover the spread. I’ve seen it before and so have you. A last push, borne of pride, only to be stifled by the stark reality that we’re just not good enough. But a funny thing happened on the way to inevitability.
Chase Budinger hauled in a rebound, whipped the outlet pass up court, spotted up for a three pointer as the trailer and fed a streaking Andrei Kirelenko for a dunk, cutting the lead to six points. Then Shved gave Deron a crossover of his own, penetrating and dishing to Chase for another trey. Pek received the ball in the post and a double team that would’ve confounded him before was immediately evaded with a toss out to Shved for another triple. Smallball 3.0 was actually working. These weren’t lethargic and listless souls playing out the clock, they were competitors and a welcome relief from the torment of seasons past.
As you know, our fair Wolves went on to win this contest. It was a pleasant surprise for a team in need of courage to bolster them through our heroes absence. As for me, if only for a night, it felt good to be home.