Last night I left the beautiful lights of New York City with some friends to travel to New Jersey to watch the Nets take on the Orlando Magic. Why not just see the Knicks play the Magic in New York?
Um...have you been to MSG anytime in the past 10 years? It's an expensive port-o-john (except in a port-o-john you can actually see what's happening in front of you with no blind spots).
Entering the game, the teams had been headed in different directions. While the Magic were 7-2 and looking like a powerhouse in the East, the Nets had just lost Vince Carter to an injury for a few weeks and were looking a bit beaten up at 4-4.
Needless to say, it was a game I had to see.
Here's how it went down:
We showed up at the Nets Arena, newly christened "The Izod Center" (formerly Continental Airlines Arena). I immediately had the concrete reason the Nets were starting slowly this season: The Izod Center is the most flamboyant looking stadium in the world, down to the point of being laughable.
This actually upset me as I grew up in New Jersey and have a special place in my heart for the Nets. The outside of the stadium was red and yellow stripes, and all throughout the stadium (and I mean EVERYWHERE) there were Izod catalog photos of metrosexual white skiiers.
This was the enormous banner over the section I was sitting. Obviously this is extremely menacing and something that has struck fear into the heart of every Nets opponent:
We found our seats, which were $20 specials (THF spares no expense), but this wasn't a problem as the seats at Continenta- er - Izod are really good and there isn't a bad seat in the house.
Before I sat down, I was immediately booed by a Nets loyalist. He booed me the entire time I ascended the steps to my seat, laughing and smiling. I smiled back and gave him the finger. It might have had something to do with what I was wearing:
The Asshole Nets Loyalist fan quieted down, and resumed watching the game (it was the middle of the first quarter when we showed up. Damn subways). I vaguely remembered this guy from a game I went to last year. He was yelling the whole game that the Nets were the greatest team on the planet because they were winning the entire time by a range of 2 to 5 points. He obviously would need to be shut up (foreshadowing!)
We took our seats and were quickly absorbed in the mayhem. Yelling and downing overcooked chicken tenders.
This is as good a time as any to mention perhaps the most important feature in Nets games: Sly the Fox. Sly is the Nets mascot, and I don't give a SHIT what anyone says, he is the creepiest looking- and thus the best- mascot in the NBA. Last year they actually had a "Mini-Sly" at the games, a midget version that would follow Sly around. Sadly, Mini-Sly was not back for this season, which was a shame as seeing that midget shoot t-shirts into the crowd with his t-shirt cannon was one of the best images of my (or anyone's) life.
Here is Sly rallying up the crowd. Those are probably unpaid slave Nets interns running around him with "Nets" flags:
I'd love to say that this game was close and going back and forth, but that simply was not the case. As I said earlier, the teams were going in different directions when they came in, so the Magic promptly jumped out to a 15 point lead that they held all game. Besides a few minor comebacks, the Nets looked gassed and seemed to admit defeat somewhere around the beginning of the 2nd quarter.
On the bright side, the fans were thus blessed the entire game with a terrifyingly funny graphic of Sly gesticulating wildly with "Defense" on the screen. I'm sure it gave at least 20 kids in the stadiums nightmares that night, much to my delight:
With the game quickly out of hand, it was time to look around the crowd and see what was going on. In my opinion, this is easily the best part of going to a basketball game as the stadium will inevitably be filled with a ton of crazies and borderline illegal activities. The security at Nets games has always been something for ridicule amongst my friends and I.
One quick scan revealed this guy. He was filming the entire game in front of a security guard. -And by the entire game...I mean the ENTIRE GAME. After 2 quarters of laughing that he never moved, never even dropped his arms to get blood back into his hands, his girlfriend came out of her seat about 10 rows up and asked him if he was returning to his seat to be with her. Like a true fan, he glanced at her, muttered something like, "Bitch, sit down and enjoy those seats I bought" and went back to filming. Right on.
Next, it was time for t-shirts to be shot into the crowd. Before I even had a chance to shed a single tear over the dearly departed Mini-Sly, I was treated to a grand spectacle. They were dropping t-shirts in little mini parachutes from the ceiling, causing people to claw and maim each other to get under them to catch them.
One father was sitting right below a t-shirt that was dropped and had his hands up to catch it. His two 5 year old kids were jumping up and down excitedly because they were about to get a present. Juuuuuust as the t shirt is about to land in his hands, one guy (dressed in what looked like a camo jacket) took a running start and launched himself onto the guys back and snatched the shirt. He almost knocked the father unconscious, probably kicked the kids in the head, and made off with the prize. This made the entire section erupt in laughter until we realized those kids were screwed, and probably decapitated. Luckily, the camo guy gave the father the tshirt...saying loudly that all he wanted was the parachute it was attached to (I'm not making this up...gotta love Nets fans). This is the parachute in question, moments before the bloody spectacle that was to befall it below:
The best was still to come though.
With the Magic winning handily, the Nets fans began to get restless. Our section, in particular, started a giant chant of "COLLINS SUCKS!", astutely pointing out that Nets center Jason Collins is slightly better than a chunk of driftwood. If there was a ringleader of the "COLLINS SUCKS!" chants, it was this guy, who at one point yelled, "GET ON YOUR KNEES, REFS, BECAUSE YOU'RE BLOWING THE GAME!". We'll call him "Loud Nets Fan" from here on out:
I watched in gleeful delight as the inevitable happened. The Asshole Nets Loyalist, who booed me earlier in the night, turned and looked up. He cockily said to Loud Nets Fan, "Shut the FUCK up. Jason Collins is one of the best centers in the league. Shut the FUCK up!". Uh oh. Game on.
Here is the Asshole Nets Loyalist in the act of saying this. Damn, I'm a good photographer:
The Loud Nets Fan, flanked on either side by 2 girls (who WAS this guy?), said, "Are you JOKING? Jason Collins sucks dick for a living. He doesn't play basketball. Name one other center in the league that is better than him."
Challenged, Asshole Nets Loyalist exhibited his amazing NBA knowledge and spurted forth a name that would haunt him the rest of the game:
"He's better than Chris Bosh, jackass!"
I still have a mark on my forehead this morning, I slapped it that hard. The entire section, Loud Nets Fan especially, broke out laughing. "Chris BOSH? Like, THE Chris Bosh? He is an incredible player that the Nets would trade anyone for right now. Are you JOKING?" Asshole Nets Loyalist, actually offended, went on a tirade about how Jason Collins was underrated and could shut anyone down. The two yelled at each other for, no joke, about 45 minutes. It was glorious.