When I went to my first pro basketball game in over ten years, Celtics @ Nets, a few weeks ago, I was less than impressed by the lackadaisical efforts displayed by the millionaire ballers I’d paid to see.
So, I guess it shouldn’t have come as a major shock that my second game on Monday night, Bobcats @ Nets, was even more of a letdown given that both teams had long been eliminated from playoff contention.
I knew going in that both teams would be without almost every decent player on their rosters due to injury, but my buddy has never seen his beloved Bobcats in person so I went along for moral support.
I figured I was going to see high school level basketball, but I never expected to witness a three-ring circus.
Apparently, the Nets are well aware that their actual on court product leaves something to be desired. Last game I remember there being some sort of entertainment during literally every TV timeout, but what I saw Monday night took it to a whole new level.
The entertainment MC was a young man with corn rows tucked under his backwards hat and a Nets jersey that designated him “Glorious.” Throughout the game, he feigned excitement over T-shirt cannons, countless dance routines, an impressive halftime talent show, and a male fan makeover sponsored by Nivea.
One fourth quarter stoppage was a pretty good summation of the night. Play halted and out paraded two ladies on stilts, the Nets’ mascot, Sly, his Mini-Me accomplice (dubbed Mini-Sly) on a siren-toting bike, dancers with streamers, and trapeze artists flying down from the rafters. OK, I made that last part up, but needless to say, Glorious was pumped.
I get that the Nets are trying to provide their fans and families with as diverse an entertainment experience as possible, but they might want to focus a little more on the actual basketball aspect of the event.
Backup point guard Jordan Farmar - who was starting because Deron Williams, the Nets’ lone recognizable player, missed the game with injury - was caught on the Jumbotron yawning during pregame introductions, and it’s a bit of a shock that he didn’t actually fall asleep under one of the hoops.
The game was played with the enthusiasm of a hungover college freshman at a Friday morning lecture and I caught myself nodding off on more than a few occasions. I’m not a huge NBA fan so that’s understandable, but my buddy who watches basketball literally every night and was psyched up to finally catch his ‘Cats in person even admitted to closing his eyes a couple times.
The Nets drew a sizable crowd given the circumstances of the game, but I’ll bet most were like us, picking up tickets off StubHub for literally less than $1.
The Nets will only be in New Jersey for one more season before moving to Brooklyn and something tells me the organization’s circus act won’t be tolerated across the river. Getting Deron was a start, but this team had better figure out how to entertain a crowd during the actual game instead of relying on ridiculous gimmicks to rouse its fans.
Kevin Baumer writes about college and pro sports. He lives in New Providence, NJ.
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