Basketball wasn’t my “mother sport”; Akin to mother tongues, we all have mother sports that we have grown up with. A sport that is inherent to us as individuals by virtue of the state, country or even the community that we grew up in. For me, that sport was Cricket- an obvious choice since I am Indian- but it ceased to be so, once I saw a magician set foot on a Basketball Court. His name, was Jason Kidd.
You can’t change your mother tongue but when I saw him play I decided to alter my mother sport. The way he played the game was like nothing I’d ever seen before in any sport, the fluidity of motion, the crispness of his passes, the pace at which he played, and his eyes. Oh, his all-seeing eyes. I had a litany of favourite cricketers back then, but I had only one favourite Basketball Player. Jason Kidd.
At the risk of sounding too hagiographical, I think Jason Kidd came first, basketball came later. Therefore, despite the sour ending to Kidd’s coaching career with the Nets (Mikhail Prokhorov’s ‘Don’t let the door hit you where the good lord split you’ line was the funniest thing I had heard an owner tell a Coach after being fired), he still holds a special place in my Nets fandom. I would not have been a Nets Fan if Kidd was not on the Nets. Although I did grow up in New Jersey, I might have ended up being a 76ers fan or worse, a Knicks fan like so many of my friends at that time. Looking back though, I think it was more than the wizardry of Jason Kidd; The Nets at that point of time were appealing to me personally, because I saw a lot of myself in the team.
- Perceived as not cool. Check.
- Outsider. Check.
- Underdog. Check.
It was a perfect union.
Now, 20 years later, that union still persists. It has persisted despite me living continents away, despite the 2009-10 season, despite games starting at 5:00 a.m. IST (Indian Standard Time), despite Toko Shengalia, despite not watching a single game for a year, despite Johan Petro, despite sore throats screaming at my TV, despite not having accessible live streaming for years, despite Sundiata Gaines, despite family, friends, social obligations and everything else life threw at me. Despite all that, it has been two decades since I became a Nets fan and I still can’t get enough of them.
This is an obsession forged for life.
Too often we as fans exhibit a propensity for one-upmanship. You would think that when two people have a common interest, bonding over the commonality would be automatic. But that is not always the case. Instead, our brains kick into overdrive, analyzing, recording and crosschecking the other alleged fan’s knowledge (or lack thereof) of the team to appropriately slot them on the invisible spectrum of fandom ranging from a “casual” to “Mr. Whammy,” never wanting to resign ourselves to the fact that the other person is a “better fan” than ourselves.
There’s a word for this now -- gatekeeping. I’m guilty of this too, having committed the offence thrice in my career as a Nets Fan, first when Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett bought a truckload of bandwagoners in 2013, next when Jeremy Lin was signed in free agency in 2016 and finally when Kyrie, KD and James Harden and later Ben Simmons all became members of the Brooklyn Nets (That sentence still seems surreal). I felt a visceral need to establish the fact that I was and have been a Nets fan since the days of yore and my identity was not to be confused with a bandwagoner. I needed to exert dominance through the duration of my fandom. That was silly. Fandom should be open and welcoming and not an elite club with select admission.
I want to let you know that I am not writing this to repeat that sense of gamesmanship here. I merely wanted to share my journey as a Nets fan living in India; not to plot myself as another data point on some Superfan graph. So, let’s begin.
I was a weedy eight-year-old Indian kid and my family had just moved to Edison, New Jersey from India in the first week of August 2001 (Talk about timing). I don’t remember much of that year, except the horrors of 9/11, having trouble adjusting to elementary school, understanding the rules of Kickball, and unfortunately, dealing with post 9/11 racism.
What is now served in swanky restaurants all over the world as “white pillowy fluffy savoury rice cakes with spicy coconut condiments and spices” (Idlies) was at that time both my lunch and a source of constant ridicule. The jeering didn’t help my scrawny nature; it isn’t easy to bulk up when your food is being called ‘stinky’. And because I didn’t eat, I was smaller, and thus an easier target. A micro-level racism cycle was perpetuated. I’d earlier grown up in the UK for four years so the blow of adjusting was palliated to some extent, but the post 9/11 word was a tough time to be a brown kid nonetheless. I needed a way to “fit in” and I found one in the form of the New Jersey Nets.
The Nets prior to 2001 were a team marinating in mediocrity. The lustre of the ABA days had long worn off and lone bright sparks in the form of Kenny Anderson, Drazen Petrovic, Buck Williams, Stephon Marbury etc. were of course illuminating, but consistent success had eluded the Nets. All that changed of course when Rod Thorn, the General Manager at that time made what was one of the best trades in the history of the NBA and definitely in the history of the franchise till that point of time (Vince Carter’s, and to a much lesser degree James Harden’s at least makes this a debatable claim).
He traded a dazzling but combustible PG in Stephon Marbury for a brilliant playmaker in Jason Fredrick Kidd. Robert Windrem (The Editor of NetsDaily where he goes by the moniker “Net Income”) speaks about the team dinner prior to the season where Kidd said something along the lines of “The losing is over. It will not be accepted any longer.” I still get goosebumps thinking about the fearlessness it takes to tell a 26-56 team that they’re not just going to be good, but they’re going to be spectacular. And they were. Jason Kidd made sure of it.
The scene is set. Mini-me in our two-bedroom Edison Woods apartment, wrapped up in a blanket with my father watching this 6’4” man dazzling us with his mastery of the game. It wasn’t just his passing, or his defense or his idiosyncrasies, like the way in which he blew kisses towards the rim before he shot his free throws. He transcended such patently alluring features.
Instead, what really drew us towards him was his undying resolve to play the game in the way he deemed fit. Ball movement and making players around him better seemed to be the only way he knew how to play and luckily that was the only way in which that Nets team would have attained success. That ragtag group consisting of Kenyon Martin, Kerry Kittles, Keith Vanhorn, Richard Jefferson, Jason Collins, Lucious Harris etc. were a team that could run you out of the gym and before you knew what was happening, would clamp down and play smothering defense. I wish more people remembered that team not just for its run-and-gun offense but also for its stifling defense, particularly come playoff time.
That first team that reached the 2002 NBA Finals was a miracle and an anomaly, but the second team that reached the 2003 NBA Finals was a true contender. Not a lot of people remember the juggernaut that the Nets were in the Playoffs that year. They fended off the Bucks 4-2 in the first round, and then proceeded to sweep both the Boston Celtics as well as the team with the best record in the East, the Detroit Pistons. I was a real believer that year, praying to every god my 10-year-old self could think of for the Nets to win the Championship. Unfortunately, Pop and the Spurs were just too good for us.
I remember curled up on my couch crying when we lost Game 6. I was inconsolable. I don’t think my mother’s patient coddling and attempts at placating me made the slightest inroads to my mood. I was a bad loser, a trait I unfortunately still carry to this day! Just ask my wife about Game 7 of the 2021 Eastern Conference Semi-finals against the Bucks. I still believe that if the Nets had just managed to hold on to that double-digit lead in Game 6 against the Spurs, the Nets would have been crowned the NBA champions that year. What If, What if?
My most colourful memory from those years were the highly ludicrous superstitions my father and I adopted. I think the Nets had a small 3-4 game losing streak when my father and I came to a decision. Much to the chagrin of my mother, we decided we would watch the same game at the same time, but in separate rooms. My dad would get the bigger TV in the living room and I was relegated to the smaller TV in one of the bedrooms. I didn’t care, but it was bedlam for my mother. Every time the Nets turned the ball over or committed a ticky-tacky foul, she’d hear loud jeers and taunts from two separate rooms (and sometimes two separate languages!) and similarly every single time the Nets scored at a crucial point of time or forced a turnover, she’d hear separate clapping and cheering from two separate rooms. She couldn’t understand what our watching arrangement had to do with the results of a game played miles away. She was right. Perhaps it had nothing to do with it whatsoever, perhaps it did. Irrespective, in my head the question always was- how else can a fan contribute to a team’s success?
One potential method of contributing to the team’s success would have been to purchase more tickets and watch more games live at Continental Airlines Arena. For reasons that are still not completely clear to me, we hardly went to watch the Nets live. My guess was that it was mostly a “money and time” thing, a trait commonly shared amongst Indian immigrants.
However, I like to think that it was my way of falling in love with the Yes Network crew with Ian Eagle and Jim Spanarkel. They were transcendent, and that is putting it mildly. Whatever may have been the reason, I only saw the Nets live twice between 2001-2005 when I left back to India; once was when they were playing Allen Iverson and the 76ers and the other time was against the Orlando Magic. They split the two, beating AI and the 76ers — pretty sure Kenyon Martin dunked on Sam Dalembert twice — but lost to the Magic in a tightly contested game with Kidd missing a 3-pointer from the right corner that would have given them the lead in the closing minutes of the game.
Even during my short stints at Continental Airlines Arena (the Izod Centre), I was so disillusioned with the crowd. I know it was a regular season game against the 76ers but the entire arena felt muted. Like someone had modified the equalizer to dull down crowd noise. It didn’t help that there was an obnoxious 76ers fan (stating the obvious, I know), in our section who was louder than the entire remaining section put together. He howled when the Nets turned the ball over, yelled at the top of his voice when Allen Iverson crossed someone up for a patented midrange jumper.
I was a 11-year-old kid and didn’t know what to do to shut him up, except to scream at the top of my voice and attempt to drown him out. So, I did. I sacrificed my throat that day for the greater good. The 76er fan turned back halfway through my cheering and decided that a pubescent boy was adequate competition for him. Given his affinity, he was perhaps picking on the right size. It was all fun and games till he started cursing at the players and I think at me as well. That was the last straw for my father, and he asked me to quiet down and move over to another seat. An empty seat was not difficulty to find. The Nets won anyway, and in my own naïve way, I put my body on the line for the team.
Sometime in 2005, we had to move back to India. It would be the sixth time I was changing schools in 10 years. Like me, the Nets were in a state of flux. After having been knocked out in seven games by the eventual champions, the Detroit Pistons, and trading their star power forward, Kenyon Martin, to the Nuggets, this looked like a visibly weakened team. An aged and ailing Alonzo Mourning was not as feisty as advertised, Richard Jefferson was out for a prolonged duration with an injury and Kidd was moody, to put it kindly.
Luckily that changed when Rod Thorn once again pulled a feather out of his cap and got Vince Carter in exchange of Alonzo Mourning, Eric Williams, Aaron Williams and a couple of draft picks. The Nets had a new star, and what a shiny star he was. Watching Vince Carter play was one of life’s greatest joys. He was the type of player who makes you scratch your head and ask ‘How did he do that’ multiple times during the course of a game. It wasn’t just his dunking ability either, VC was a flat-out scorer, a tremendous jump shooter and deadly from deep. The sounds of “Veeeceeethreeeee” have been embossed into my memory. Reinvigorated by the trade, the Nets made the playoffs as the eighth seed only to lose in the first round to the best regular season team that year in the East, the Miami Heat.
When I left that year, I knew that my fandom would be affected. I could no longer finish my homework in the evening and tune into Nancy Newman or Bob Lorenz during the pregame. I didn’t even know when the next time I could watch the Nets play on TV. I certainly gave up all hope of listening to Ian Eagle calling Nets games and that in particular left me with a sense of emptiness. From 2001-2005, Ian Eagle and the Yes Network crew were my constant companion. I don’t think I had missed watching a single game.
I remember having tears in my eyes when years later, I heard the Nets intro music on NBA League Pass and got to hear Ian Eagle’s voice again. No matter what was going on otherwise in my life, and admittedly as a middle schooler my problems were remarkably trivial, the Nets were a constant feature of my daily life. I insisted that we bring a 7 foot poster of Jason Kidd with us back to India; it was the one where you could measure your height against Kidd’s. I bought a Vince Carter Jersey, tried to get it signed unsuccessfully, and had a small key chain of Sly the Mascot. Apart from which, there was no tangible proof to show that I was emotionally bound to this team in the Meadowlands.
When I reached India, my worst fears came true. Basketball in India was still a fledgling sport at that time, played and discussed by an esoteric few. (Of course the term few is subjective when you consider the population of India. The point is it was not as popular as say, Cricket or even Football/Soccer).
Admittedly, the sport reached Indian shores as far back as 1930, when India was still under colonial rule and the Basketball Federation of India was formed in 1950. India was one of the few countries to have adopted the game within a few years of its inception. Despite which, till around 2008 when Robert Parish visited India and the NBA finally recognized the immense potential of the sport, the game didn’t enjoy the popularity it enjoys today in the country.
In 2005, the venn diagram of Basketball players and NBA viewers in India, was not always clear since there was not always significant overlap. You would play basketball with your friends, but would hardly watch/discuss the NBA. This lead to a stifling situation whereby I did not have an outlet to discuss the NBA, and more particularly the Nets. This was before Redditt, before NetsDaily, before high speed internet and before the NBA League Pass in its current state.
The few people who shook off their crusty eyes and tuned into ESPN Star Sports (The only Indian TV station showing the games in India at that time) at five in the morning were fairly restricted in terms of the teams they could watch. As a result, the teams they became fans of were few, namely the Bulls, the Lakers, the Spurs, and perhaps the Celtics. The set up at that point of time was that ESPN Star Sports would show a grand total of two games … a week. And if you were lucky enough, your favorite team would be featured. What you hoped for was that if your team was playing against a “big market” team on the road, you might have a chance to watch them play. What happened more often than not however, was that the games would be between two heavyweights and your team would never be featured.
Through the 2005-2006 season, I perhaps caught a game or two at max and although I was fortunate enough to watch a few Nets games in the NBA playoffs, the availability was severely limited. It also felt unnatural to hear announcers who didn’t possess half the flair that the Yes Network crew bought to the table. The market just did not cater to a team like the Nets as a result of which, the Indian NBA fan class was littered with fans of big teams.
While this is undeniably a generalization, the fact of the matter is that it was rare, though not impossible to find, say a Memphis Grizzlies fan in India. That definitely made me a minority even within the arcane Indian NBA fan circle. The Nets were not a famous team or a team that a regular Indian NBA fan would expect to have fans. Especially by 2007 or so, when the Nets’ last shot at a championship was curtailed by a dominant Lebron James and a young Cleveland Cavaliers team in the second Round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs, the Nets were slowly slipping into middling irrelevance.
Although their run-and-gun style made for appealing basketball, bad luck, lack of a dominant big man, some questionable draft choices and front office decisions and some plain poor basketball did them in. The Nets would not make the playoffs again till 2013.
I tried to not let my inability to watch the Nets faze me. I was still a dedicated Nets fan in my own meagre way. The Yes Network site had snippets of post and pregame videos that helped satiate me. Al Ianazzone’s articles helped, the once a week show, “NBA action” with Ian Eagle’s voice recapping the happenings of the previous NBA week helped too. I would log on to NBA.com every morning before school and try to check up scores hurriedly, before I left to school. That was particularly frustrating, since I would have to leave by 7:30 AM which, was usually around the 3rd or 4th quarter depending on which side of the calendar year qua daylight savings time we were on.
My entire bus ride to school would consist of me being steeped in anger that the Nets were losing big, or nerve wracking anxiety that the Nets were leading small. This was before smartphones (Damn I sound old), so I would have no idea what the result would be till I got back home from school or unless I sneaked into the Computer Lab to catch a quick glance of the scores. In those years, sometimes I was pleasantly surprised, but more often that not, I was sorely disappointed.
The years from 2007-2011, particularly after Jason Kidd left, were perhaps the toughest time to be a Nets fan. While my fascination for the Nets undoubtedly began with Jason Kidd, by the time he was afflicted with a severe bout of ‘I’mleavingitis’, I was a Nets fan first and a Jason Kidd fan next. I had grown to love Richard Jefferson and Vince Carter as much as if not more than Kidd.
I was, like any other delusional Nets fan, convinced of Mikki Moore’s ascendance, Nenad Kristic’s return to health, Zoran Planinic’s playmaking and Rodney Buford’s shooting. I was a fan of any player who wore the Nets jersey. The name on the front, not the one on the back made all the difference for me, and still does (looking at you James Harden).
Being a Nets fan was for me a never ending cycle of disappointment. I constantly hoped for the best and was repeatedly proven wrong. That lead me and other Nets fans to embrace failure as our companion and be skeptical of any short term success. My earliest tryst with trust issues didn’t stem from relationships, but rather from the Nets! That is perhaps also why, I believe that the constant bickering and complaining we see from Nets fans today, fails to account for those numerous years of mediocrity. Damn it, there I go with my gatekeeping again.
Despite dawdling prospects of success and a mediocre team, I was as invested as ever in the exploits of Devin Harris, Sundiata Gaines, Chris Douglas Roberts, Yi Jianlian, Terrance Williams (I will die on the hill that a solid development coach, like Kenny Atkinson, would have made Terrance Williams a star in the league), Bobby Simmons and the rest.
My low point during those years came during the 2009-2010 season when I would wake up every single morning at 5 or 6 a.m. and hoped against hope that the Nets would have won their first game of the season, constantly refreshing NBA.com. I was cheated 18 times. On the 19th time, I decided that having set the record for most number of losses to begin a season anyway, I would stay away from the computer and not sacrifice my sleep for the benefit of such an ignominious team. This time, the Nets won. I setup a new superstition that day, stop checking the score in the mornings.
Unfortunately no amount of superstitious juju would have helped that team and we finished with one of the worst records in the history of the game, and to add salt to our wounds, we wound up with the third pick in that draft, meaning we missed out on John Wall and wound up with a burly but unrefined Derrick Favors instead.
Questions that start with “What if” are many and varied in Nets fandom. What if Kobe was drafted by the Nets, what if Shareef-Abdur Rahim was healthy, What if KD decided to change shoes, what is Kyrie was available full time, what if Drazen Petrovic didn’t pass away in that tragic accident etc. I think the question of “What if the Nets chose John Wall” is as interesting. John Wall means no Deron Williams, does that also mean potentially no KG and Paul Pierce which means no Billy King firing which means no Sean Marks hiring which means no “Big Three?” The question is intriguing.
Nonetheless, having lost out on Carmelo Anthony, vis-à-vis the Melodrama, we got perhaps a better player- the husky PG from Utah, Deron Williams. I loved watching DWill play. His killer crossover and distribution was extremely smooth and he gave a hungry Nets fanbase something that we had sorely been missing; a Superstar. The crew surrounding DWill was unfortunately extremely bare, apart from a still emerging Brook Lopez (one of my favorite Nets of all time) the rest of the squad was Kris Humphries, Travis Outlaw, Shawne Williams, Jordan Farmar, and…Sheldon Williams? Not the more sturdy of teams. So the idea was clear, we pair DWill with another superstar and take over New York. A tall task, by any means but since the Nets had a huge store of picks and some intriguing pieces like Brook Lopez, I guess Nets management was confident about swinging a trade. Their target, was Dwight Howard.
The Dwightmare chronicles are too laborious to chart out, but as an Indian Nets fan, the one part that hurt the most was going to sleep at around 9:00 a.m. ET on the day of the 2012 NBA trade deadline thinking Dwight was going to be a Net and waking up at 7:00 p.m ET to the news that the Nets had traded our draft pick (a meagre top three protected) for….Gerald Wallace, an aging veteran whose best days were definitely behind him.
I swear to god, my dreams that night consisted of DWill throwing alley-oops to Dwight Howard on a swanky new Barclays Centre court. Instead, Dwight waived the Early Termination Option (ETO) and we were left with Gerald Wallace. No knocks on him of course, he was a savvy veteran who played hard, constantly put his body on the line and was a defensive pest, but Gerald Wallace was a complementary piece who could help a contender but did not move the needle much when it came to the Nets themselves. He played only 16 games total for us that season, in a season derailed by injuries.
It was a desperate ‘Knicksian’ move to placate Deron Williams. And yes, I know the narrative is that we would have drafted Thomas Robinson and not Damian Lillard with our 6th pick, but who knows? Maybe the scouts would have changed their mind, maybe if DWill was adamant on leaving, we would have drafted a point guard. One more of those “What If” situations that we will never know. A new show on a Nets Multiverse titled What If is certainly in the offing at this point of time.
Over the next 10 years, from 2013 (the first season in a long time that the Nets were relevant) to date, is a new phase of my Nets fandom. I had access to high speed internet, that could buffer games seamlessly and the NBA International League pass became affordable and accessible. I started watching Nets games ... daily ... waking up at 4:30 or 6:00 a.m. depending on daylight savings time to watch the Nets play. Almost every day. Whether the Nets were good or bad, on winning streaks or losing streaks, tanking or contending, it did not matter, I would definitely get up and watch. If I couldn’t for whatever reason, I’d watch the condensed games through the day. I am a litigating lawyer by profession and Court starts at 10:30 a.m. IST, but we needed to be in office by 9 a.m. IST (10:30 p.m. EST), and it was a half hour drive to reach my work place, which meant that a lot of my car journeys were anxiety-ridden drives of listening to the audio while dealing with general work stress.
A lot more things happen when the games are telecast in the morning for you as well, that you just take for granted when you’re in a conducive time zone. For one, watching games is a solitary experience. You can’t call your friends over for a beer and catch a game at 6:00 a.m! This might explain why I talk to myself/the screen so much in the wee hours of the morning. There is no one else to talk to! I remember after seeing me passionately call out plays or complain about the rotations to the TV, our house help once innocently asked my mother whether the players could actually hear me, and if not, why was I being so animated? I remember my poor grandmother dropping coffee all over herself when she randomly heard me yelling in joy at 5:00 a.m. when the Nets had signed KD and Kyrie.
The other byproduct of the time zone business is that I am now only used to watching games alone. While the Glue Guys has a fantastic Discord channel and the NetsDaily game threads are lively, albeit hyperbolic, my way of watching the games is walking/running around at 5-6 a.m. in the hall on my own. It also does not help that while those around you wake up and have a blank start to the day, you either are Mr. Scrooge-like or overbearingly effusive depending on the results of the game that day. I’m sorry to all those around me who had to deal with my morning mood swings. Blame Sean Marks! Just kidding, he’s beyond reproach. #InMarksWeTrust!
I still have my own set of superstitions though, a trait I carry over which range from the silly to the downright ridiculous. For example during the 2021 playoffs, I would constantly change which glasses I wore during the day and which I wore during the games.
More patently ridiculous was when I would request my wife (who has surprisingly, most of the time, been extremely supportive of my idiosyncrasies and early morning shenanigans) to lie down and request to be tucked in, every night before the game. If she tucked herself in, or she failed to make the request, we had to start our bedtime routine all over again, and I swear before Game 7 of that Bucks series, the routine was messed up. Just saying, I’m sorry!
Another aspect that you feel when you’re at an alternate time zone, is a sense of diminishment of your own fandom. You feel like you’re not a good enough Nets fan. This is because I feel like I don’t have the ability to be a part of an ‘in-person’ community to discuss games as they’re happening, or to just walk into a bar to catch a game, or to otherwise contribute to the betterment of the Fanbase. Sure, I listen to the GlueGuys, I catch Keith McPherson’s show when I can and follow the UKNets Pod but what else do I do for the fanbase at large? I look at the Brooklyn Brigade with a sense of pride and love, but also admittedly with a tiny hint of jealousy. I wish I could be a part of that sense of community, and watch games live with that level of fervor. I mean, think about it, do you think KD or Kyrie are tangibly going to feel any effect of my fandom? They can feel the Brooklyn Brigade! A brown dude sitting more than 10,000 miles away, in South India, having woken up at 5:00 a.m., cheering them on a TV set can never rival that! I’ve thought about this a lot, and realized that while I can’t add to the energy of the crowd like the Brooklyn brigade and Mr. Whammy so masterfully do, I can try to share my experience to ensure that the worldwide Nets fanbase knows that they’re not alone.
If you’re in Philippines or Australia or Slovenia or Burkina Faso or wherever else watching the games with your own weird set of quirks and time zone issues, understand this. You’re not alone. I see you UK Nets fans, and Russian Nets fans, and of course those in the US itself. We’re with you all the way. The community is wholesome and worldwide, in every sense of the word.
I should conclude this vichyssoise of verbiage, with what I like to call my three Brooklyn Nets wishes. If there was a Brooklyn Nets genie (is that you Mr. Whammy?), who would grant me three Brooklyn Nets-related wishes, I would not have a single complaint, qualm or trepidation for the rest of my life as a Brooklyn Nets fan. Here’s what they would be.
The first, is for the Nets community at large, and that, is an NBA championship. I thought last year in the 2021 playoffs were our perfect window, and it would have been with a healthy James Harden and Kyrie Irving. Kevin Durant was of course and is a spiritual experience to watch on the basketball court, he is an icon of the game, the greatest player to play the game right now, despite what this year’s playoffs. He provides me a sense of comfort that I have never felt watching a Nets game. He’s the greatest player to wear a Nets Jersey and I really wish we could win a Championship with him in tow. Same with the greatest ball handler to have ever played, Kyrie Irving too. He’s not just box-office, he’s smooth. The joy you get cleaving butter? That’s what watching Kyrie Irving play feels like. I hope he signs back with the Nets and I finally get to watch both of them play. I might get greedy after the first one, but you never forget your first time and I sure hope the first NBA championship for the Brooklyn Nets is just around the corner.
The second, is for my family, and I want to have the privilege and ability to take my mom, dad and my wife to a Brooklyn Nets game, courtside. Preferably during the NBA Finals, but I am not going to be too finnicky. A preseason game would work too at this point. This wish though, is perhaps the closest I have come to realizing out of my three wishes. So for some context, I got a law degree from ILS Law College, in India. After which, I was admitted to and secured my Masters in law from University of California, Berkeley Law and graduated in 2016. And I fell in love.
Thereafter, while figuring out potential options, I wanted to move back to the East Coast, due to both a sense of familiarity as well as, to a lesser extent to be closer to the Nets. Spoiler alert: I did. I managed to join a top law firm as an associate at their office in Midtown Manhattan in 2016. While the 2016-2017 season was definitely not the best or most memorable Nets season (despite the addition of Jeremy Lin, who we quickly lost to injuries), it was a season that allowed me to attend Nets games, slowly integrate my future wife into Nets fandom (She’s…getting there), and finally feel like a “real fan,” a member of the Nets community, and not a lone ranger.
While I had to come back to India in 2017, due to changes in the political situation in the US which was not very immigration friendly, my fiancée as she was at that point was still in New York. The nightmares of long distance aside, the saving grace was that when I was able to visit her, particularly in the winter, we would also get to watch the Nets play. (When I visited her in the summer, which was Court holidays in India, the Nets were usually out of the playoffs by then).
She’s accepted my Nets fandom as an irrevocable part of our marriage at this point, and in fact, during my wedding when I entered the wedding hall wearing my Nets jersey, she had erected a huge cutout of both of us in Nets gear, welcoming the guests.
So yeah, I’d say she gets it. My parents do too. They’ve spent time and energy driving this geeky kid to basketball practice and trying to fall in love with the sport with me. My mom’s mastered the names of all 30 teams and Nets players names and ritualistically prays long and hard for the Nets whenever I ask her too, even though she herself has no dog in the fight. My dad has also been absolutely instrumental in my Nets fandom. As I earlier alluded to, we’d watch games together, discuss players and plays. At the age of 38, he picked up a basketball for the first time and learnt how to play the sport in order to match my level of interest. We’d go and shoot around at Menlo Park every weekend, without fail. Without his interest in me, and vicariously the Nets, you wouldn’t be reading this today.
My dad, after moving back to India, unfortunately lost the same level of desire and passion that he had as a Nets fan in the US, but I like to think that it is still there, simmering under the surface, waiting for a visit to Barclays to set things back.
My last wish is for myself. My name is Harshavardhan Ganesan. I am a diehard Nets fan, and the one thing I want for myself is to hear Ian Eagle or Sarah Kustok or Ryan Ruocco (OR RJ!) pronounce my name on the YES Network after a portion of Wear Brooklyn At? After 20 years of Nets Fandom, that, would be my moment. My game winner.