A corner was turned at Flatbush and Atlantic last night.
It was about Kevin Durant and James Harden ... and of course the come-from-behind win that put the Nets up 3-2 in the crucial Eastern Conference semi-finals. But there was something else...
As Marv Albert said on the TNT broadcast, he had never heard a crowd as loud at Barclays Center. He might have added he’d never seen the level of engagement with the team, never felt the emotion of the moment. It was that kind of night as the fans fed off the players and the players fed off the fans, that perfect synergy of a perfect game. That was true too.
There were 16,310 fans on hand in the pandemic sellout from Joe Tsai to Victor Oladipo (yep, he was there!) to Mr. Whammy to the long-suffering Brooklyn Brigade member to some lucky kid who was attending his or her first NBA game and now thinks they’re all like this! (Sorry kid.)
This was a New York basketball crowd, a quintessential New York basketball crowd. Knowledgeable, with an understanding that the game isn’t over till the zeros ring up on the scoreboard and oh, so appreciative of history and greatness. They knew what they were witnessing was history, perhaps the best —oh screw it — THE best playoff performance in the city of New York since Walt Frazier put up 36 points, 19 assists and seven rebounds in the Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals, a half century ago. They reveled in every moment from Kevin Durant the Net, in being there, in being New Yorkers and Brooklynites. They got it.
They were also respectful. There were no obscenity-filled chants aimed at the other team’s star, no demand for a match-up with a rival (By the way, NO ONE “wants” Brooklyn right now. NO ONE.)
Nets fans have often been the butt of jokes, mainly from Knicks fans. They don’t exist or their arena is a mausoleum or it’s the alternate home of a rival. Yada, yada. Those claims have long been exaggerated and/or are outdated. I mean, The Block now has a national sponsor (Red Bull)! Now, those claims can be dismissed. The punctuation mark was emphatically slammed into the hardwood at Barclays Center Tuesday night, like a KD dunk. WE own New York!