So I get this text on Sunday afternoon from No Jersey (who's driving around Park Slope) asking what bar I'm in. Bar? I was still nursing the previous night's hang over from the comfort of my couch. Thankfully after texting John From Long Island and making sure the game didn't start until 7:00, I was able to flop back down and fish around the channels, wishing football season wasn't over. Even with Oscar pre-shows replacing NFL ones, I was too easy on myself because before I knew it I was already running late. Thankfully, in one of their few moments of competence, the MTA made it to Barclay's with the type of speed usually reserved for European subway systems.
No Jersey's initial confusion (aside from the game's start time) was whether we were meeting at the 4th Avenue Pub or the Pacific Standard. Usually the 4th Avenue Pub is my personal starting point (and it will remain so thanks to what happened later) but on this evening we had a plan to temporarily split our crowd in half. Actually that was just a smaller detail to the bigger plan.
This was our chance to finally give something back to Gotham Gooner, the dude who has been so ridiculously generous with random strangers he had met on NetsDaily. JLI came up with the idea. He would order an authentic, custom made Brooklyn Nets jersey for GG and we would all chip in for it. After a series of e-mails with JLI we voted for the home jersey (white will pop better in an arena as dark as the Rusty Turtle) and picked out the number 12. Not only does 12 signify the year the Nets made their move to Brooklyn, but I later found out it was a turning point for Gooner too. Until 2012 he had never even been a Nets fan. He's been far too good for me to reveal which teams he once cheered on, so instead I'll just chalk that up to youthful indiscretion.
Anyway, the last part of the plan was to have everyone sign a thank you card but to do it without Gooner seeing us. No Jersey also decided to bring a blank poster so that the best artist in our group, Trippy, could draw up a thank you as well. So the Pacific Standard was our staging area while hiding the jersey, card and poster from the Goon. Everything went accordingly except that Gooner never showed. Instead he was across the street at another drinking hole called the Cherry Tree. Being part Argentine (arriba Diego por siempre!) I can't be too critical about any spot sporting an Argentine jersey on its wall, but from my experience it's not the most Nets-friendly place. Whatever, with him there we got all the names signed and our surprise was good to go.
That presentation, between the first and second quarters, went smoothly. Mets-Jets-Nets and a few others who couldn't meet up earlier were all there and I think Gooner was genuinely appreciative. Not that any of us could come close to matching his generosity but as JLI has always stated, we needed to do something. Until the game's final moments it was a cool night all around. In the end a loss, but like Houston a few nights earlier, the Nets had their chances. The crowd took some time to warm up to things but no complaints there either. Very knowledgeable throughout and quite emotionally invested during those final moments. Just eavesdropping on conversations here and there confirmed that Brooklyn knows hoops. That might be as obvious as saying Brooklyn knows pizza, bagels and Cuban sandwiches but it still needed to be said. Now if only the County of Kings shared my disdain for wannabe Darth Vader mascots and tees shot out of canons.
Afterwards it was back to the 4th Avenue Pub and this time with GG, the man of the night himself. While at some back booth we met some gray-haired motorcycle man named Jacob. We talked Nets hoops and he told us he's been an "on again/off again" fan for over 40 years. Since the Rick Barry days to be exact. He kinda lost interest when they moved to Jersey but even at the Swamp he was into Petrovic and especially, Sam Cassell, his favorite of all Nets. Turns out Jacob is the owner of the 4th Avenue Pub and not only was he cool with us chalking up his bathroom but he even bought a round for the entire Brooklyn Brigade. As I said earlier, that place will remain a part of my pre and post game ritual.
Now, the final chapter to this involves a bit of criminal activity. Normally I don't dime but since we're going with screen names and since the po-po's not allowed to gather information off the internet, I figure we're good. Basically we were confronted by a Mike Conley fan who at first seemed innocent enough. He said he worked for the Grizzlies, got to travel with the team, and added some nice words about our arena. He even took a few pictures with us but N1K wasn't having it. Seems as if N1K, a big "Les Mis" fan who was already incensed over "Life of Pi" winning for visual effects could only take so much of hanging with an interloper. Trippy too was getting a bad vibe from this cat. The Tennessean had this Egyptian tambourine hanging off his coat pocket, a relic from their Pyramid Arena days, and as well all know, no one hates Egyptian tambourines more than Trippy.
What happened next was too ugly to describe but let's just say that I ended up with the tambourine in my possession (not having a single musical bone in my body I'm currently using it as a food bowl for my puppy) and the Grizzlies are missing a staffer for road trips. Jacob, ahem-ahem, saw nothing.
All in all, just another night with the Nets. Here's the photos to prove it: