It’s a new year for the Brooklyn Brigade and as Mike Scotto of The Athletic chronicles, it’s likely to be a turning point for the hardy band of rowdy (and very patient) Nets fans in Section 114 at Barclays Center.
The Nets as an organization have gone out of their way to ensure the section is full, providing ticket packages and even free tickets to the most loyal of the fans and renaming the section “The Block: Home of the Brooklyn Brigade.”
It’s not that the organization hasn’t supported the group before. There were Brigade caps and other gear and receptions in Mikhail Prokhorov’s suites, background conversations with Sean Marks, Trajan Langdon and Brett Yormark, among others, the most recent earlier this month at the HSS Training Center.
Big shout out to The Block for coming through last night! Can't wait to have you guys cheering us on all season! #WeGoHard pic.twitter.com/d4VuKzZeiy— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) October 16, 2018
Now, though, it is much more focused and very much goal-driven: creating a fan base that will grow along with the team’s rebuild.
“I especially think the Brigade is important because they’re supporting when we are trying to come up from the bottom so to speak,” Kenny Atkinson said. “The fact that they’re that positive energy and I think that helps all of us. I think it helps the other fans, I think it helps the players and coaches that the group of them are with us.”
Indeed, besides the new branding and ticket packages, there is a more public appreciation. (According to more than one report, Marks has been one of the most active promoters of the Brigade.)
“We need people to be passionate about the Nets,” Brett Yormark, CEO of BSE Global, the Nets parent organization, told Scotto. “Most of our fans, and we do have hardcore fans, but the base is casual fans. We’re new to the borough. It’s only been six years. It’s not like you have that generational fan base, so when you can identify a bunch of passionate fans that want to come every night, and root for the home team it’s a wonderful thing. We, as an organization, have really embraced them.”
And there is appreciation as well from players and Kenny Atkinson. Alan Williams, no stranger to celebration, tweeted on opening night about what he saw.
The energy was crazy in there! https://t.co/s4GpgrQVm3— BigSauce (@alantwilliams) October 20, 2018
“We love the Brigade,” Nets guard Joe Harris told Scotto. “We hear them. The other day they were chanting in warm-ups, chanting guys’ names. They’re always the most raucous section in the arena. We’re obviously appreciative of all the fans, but especially the Brigade, because they come out and have been with us constantly from the moment that I’ve been here.”
“I think it’s going to continue and evolve and grow with us, which is going to be one of the most exciting aspects as well,” Spencer Dinwiddie said of the fan support.
All of this makes Bobby Edemeka, the Brooklyn native who founded the Brigade by buying blocks of tickets at his own cost, very proud.
“As a guy who grew up in Brooklyn as a huge fan of the NBA, I never dreamed that Brooklyn would ever have its own NBA team,” said the 43-year-old Harvard educated investment banker. “Once the Nets confirmed their move to Brooklyn, I bought season tickets in order to support Brooklyn’s first NBA franchise and be able to tell my future children that I was a Brooklyn Nets fan from day one.”
He may get prouder. Scotto reports there’s even talk about the possibility of a second section on the opposite side of the court next season. Call one Flatbush, one Atlantic?
- How the Nets are betting on ‘The Block’ to be the heart of a growing Brooklyn fanbase - Michael Scotto - The Athletic New York