Alright, so you have been presented with the rare and exciting opportunity, smack in the middle of adulthood, to just suddenly begin rooting for a brand new professional sports franchise. We've written elsewhere about the decisions you'll have to make regarding whatever established rooting interests you have, but this is for those of you whose utter lack of knowledge about anything related to basketball has allowed you to come into this blissfully untethered to another team.
1. Acquaint yourself with the Nets and pick a favorite player to root for. It shouldn't necessarily just be the best guy on the team, because then you'll be sharing a favorite with 10-year-old boys and little old ladies; you probably want someone with grit, a strong work ethic, and a little bit of personality [hint: Gerald Wallace].
2. Also make sure to pick a couple of players you don't like. The freedom to complain about overpriced slackers on the home team is a primary currency of sports fandom.
3. Develop a gameday ritual and stick with it. Make sure your favorite beer is in the fridge and that your favorite snack is ready. And if the snack involves salsa, remember to take it out at least a half hour before tip-off so it's not too cold. Cold salsa is terrible.
4. This goes without saying and can be applied to all aspects of your home-life, but be sure to have a chair you always sit in. Everyone, including yourself, will respect you more that way.
5. Decide on your official fan uniform. sweatshirt, hat, wristband, or something else entirely. Just keep it consistent.
6. (And yes, you have to do something—the reason ritualized consistency is so important is that when the team goes through a horrible slump, you can change your routine and impact the outcome of the game.)
7. Develop a drinking game based on the verbal ticks of the hometown broadcasters, in this case, Nets play-by-play man Ian Eagle (The Bird!) and analyst Jim Spanarkel (The Spaniel?). As a newbie, this will make every game feel like a party!
8. If you really want to be a hardcore Nets fan, crack open your laptop and watch the game along with fellow online Nets Heads (this is a thing, right?). We recommend NetsDaily.com, BECAUSE THERE AIN'T NO SOURCE LIKE A CROWD SOURCE. Right?
9. If you're going to do this, if you're really, truly going to commit to being a Nets fan, you can no longer be one of those smug asshole people who takes every possible opportunity to boast, "Oh, I don't even have a television!" Get a fucking television. The biggest, flattest, most awesome one you can afford, and enjoy the shit out of it.
10. Invite a few friends over to watch games with you, making sure to include a few who don't know anything about basketball. Spread your knowledge around in hopes of making a few converts and ultimately living a less lonely, more meaningful life. And if the people around you don't know when you're totally full of shit, well then that's even better.
11. If you have plans on a gamenight, don't panic. Just set your DVR to record it. (If you're buying a big new television, you should splurge for the DVR package with Time Warner or Fios or whatever provider you choose.) Watch the game when you get home, and while you should thoroughly enjoy being able to fast-forward through commercials and halftime, you should also fight the urge to watch all future games on a delay. No matter how hard you try, you will inevitably find out who won, and your night will be ruined.
AT A LIVE GAME
12. Consider having a drink or two at home or at a nearby bar before heading to the arena. It is a well known fact that slightly drunk sports fans are way better and funnier and smarter than totally sober sports fans. But seriously, you're not made of money, right?
13. Choose an epithet to yell non-stop at the refs.
14. Pick a favorite Brooklynette: may we recommend Flatbush's own Melissa Timothy-Tozer? Her signature move is something called a "kip-up," which, yeah. KIP-UP!
15. Get there on time. This isn't Madison Square Garden, you know.
16. But that said, if you happen to be there on a business meeting, please, no work-related talk while the game is being played—for the sake of your business and so that the people around you don't get pissed off and remind you that, again, this is not Madison Square Garden, you know.
17. Sacrifice the last two minutes of the first-half and head to the bathroom in order to beat the halftime rush. It is absolutely worth it.
18. As for the second half, you're only allowed one more bathroom trip, tops. Any more and you'll risk bothering the people around you and/or seeming a little bit like a child. Control yourself.
19. Choose a player on the opposing team to heckle mercilessly; do not stop until you get a reaction. If you're lucky enough to be courtside, you really need to do your homework on this one; also, say hi to Beyonce for us.
20. If there are kids near you, please refrain from using profanity at a volume louder than what you'd need to talk only to the person sitting next to you. And if you should happen to let one really loud MOTHERFUCKER slip out, tap the kid's guardian on the shoulder and apologize. They'll probably be really grateful and tell you it's no big deal. If they role their eyes or don't seem to appreciate how good a person you're trying to be, feel free to be a bit more liberal with your word choice. But just a bit.
21. If you don't like how the people around you are acting, keep it to yourself unless you're actually willing to come to blows over it. And no, you can't even sigh loudly or roll your eyes in their direction.
22. Always, always participate in the Nets Fan of the Night jumbotron dance freak out, which, so help us god, better be a real thing.
23. This is a potentially controversial bit of advice, but we think it's important: Are you really the kind of person who can pull off wearing a basketball jersey? We are going to go ahead and suggest that you probably are not, since you're presumably neither a professional basketball player nor a child. There's something sad about adults wearing clothes with another adult's name on the back, isn't there? Pass on the jersey.
24. Opt for a hat or a t-shirt, or even both. But be careful about wearing them at the same time. By which we mean that you should never wear them at the same time.
25. Unless it's the playoffs. Almost anything goes during the playoffs. Fuck, if they make the playoffs, you can go get yourself a jersey if you want.
26. (You don't want to, though, right? Because wearing a shirt with another man's name on the back is sort of sad?)
27. This isn't some dopey college game, so you can forget all about the facepaint.
28. We just remembered that the Nets' colors are black and white—another fine, fine reason you should leave the facepaint at home. Whatever your race, this will probably wind up being in super poor taste.
29. Never leave the game early, even if it's a rout. Just don't.
30. When the game ends and you do leave, head over to Pacific Standard on Fourth Avenue at St. Marks. They have ample seating and a great selection of beers, nearly all of which are $6 or less.
AT A SPORTSBAR
31. Learn some basic basketball vernacular: the ball is also the "pill," the "rock," or the "biscuit"; the key is also the "house" or the "paint"; a dunk is also a "jam" or a "flush"; "making it rain" describes a long, high three-pointer... You know what, spend a little time here, so at least you know what people are talking about, but don't over do it yourself.
32. Don't come on too strong, but let your allegiances be known with a gentle “yes” and the occasional, frustrated “fuck.”
33. Only under very special circumstances should you look around for someone to high-five: overtime wins, last-second winners, made half-court shorts, and pivotal moments in playoff games. You should not be looking around for a stranger to touch merely because the Nets went on a 10-0 run to finish the quarter against the Raptors... in November.
34. Which reminds us: Canada has an NBA team now. They used to have two, but then the Vancouver Grizzlies moved to Memphis. Also, the Seattle SuperSonics are now the Oklahoma City Thunder. And the Charlotte Hornets are now the New Orleans Hornets.
35. If it seems like the person sitting next to you doesn't want to talk about the game, it is imperative that you respect his or her wishes.
36. Don't grumble about what you think should have been called a travel. They don't call traveling in the NBA, at least not nearly as often as NBA players travel.
37. Ditto for moving picks. You can basically throw full-on NFL-style blocks and no one will blow the whistle. It's totally crazy and dangerous and you should feel free to complain about this whenever you see it happen. Make it your thing if you want to. It's a perfectly respectable thing to have.
Learn some of the standard complaints people are always making about other teams, at least the big ones. For instance...
38. You hate the Miami Heat because they have Lebron, D-Wade and Chris Bosh, who, despite being the one you always forget about, still makes $17 million a year. They're way, way better than everyone else.
39. And you hate the Celtics too, because Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo are among the dirtiest players in the league. You also hate the Celtics because they're better than most teams. And, Boston, obviously.
40. You can claim to hate the Oklahoma City Thunder, but only if you acknowledge that in addition to being one of the three or four best players in the league, Kevin Durant seems perfectly likable, which makes the whole thing even more infuriating.
You're going to need some jokes about the Knicks, too. Allow us to suggest a few possible topics...
41. They let Jeremy Lin walk, even though he singlehandedly made the Knicks must-watch TV for the first time in more than a decade.
42. They are old. Like, insanely, unbelievably old. They have a 40-year-old, a 39-year-old, two 38-year-olds and, get this, a 35-year-old rookie.
43. Underperforming big-man Amare Stoudemire got so angry after losing a first-round playoff game against the Heat last season that he punched the glass casing of a fire extinguisher and missed the next two games.
Learn your Nets history
44. Ok, so you might be new to NBA fandom, but the Nets aren't just some pop-up fondue/gallery/boutique/farmers market, here today, gone tomorrow: they come from the swamps of Jersey, and they have a history, some of it good, some of it... not good.
45. ABA Cred is a real thing. As one of four American Basketball Association teams to enter the NBA during the leagues’ 1976 merger, The Nets have a lingering link to the cooler, flashier, co-opted competition, which was responsible for concepts such as the three-point shot and the slam-dunk contest. The ABA Nets fleeced a ridiculous-sounding team called The Virgina Squires twice in two separate trades, acquiring granny-style free-throw iconoclast Rick Barry, and all-world badass Dr. J as building blocks to the franchise's only two titles. This history is the perfect talking point for a town with a fetish for beautiful, defunct things. A throwback jersey and a cassette-only indie rock album, please.
46. Well before Dirk Nowitski made the Mavs a perennial contender, Croatian swingman Drazen Petrovic was the first European player to jump a level up from sharp-shooting role-player to legitimate, team-leading offensive star. Way before the Spurs made everyone else look dumb for scooping up Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli (an Argentinian who ironically personifies the spread and NBA deadliness of the Euro game), The Nets trade for Drazen made him a star on the rise. He was also the only one who really put up any sort of fight against the Dream Team in the 1992 Olympics, earning Croatia the silver medal as his side's high scorer. His tragic car-crash death in 1993 at the top of his game at age 29, gives a saintly what-if glow to the #3 Nets jersey you are now eyeballing on eBay.
And then be realistic about the bad stuff, too, like…
47. Being fleeced out of previously unmentioned $4.8 million dollar fee upon joining the NBA for “invading” the New York market is not the sort of newbie bullshit that would ever be tolerated under the ownership of scary rich (and at least a little bit scary otherwise) Russian oligarch Mikhail Prokerov, who has means far beyond humiliation on a Jay-Z dis track to discourage any similar punking of the Brooklyn Nets.
48. Helmet-haired college coach John Calipari flamed out hard in his only NBA head-coaching stint, leading the Nets from 1996 to the part of 1999 before he went 3-17 and got fired. This, of course, threw him back in to college basketball where his tremendously successful focus on loaning one-year-and-done stars sort of exposed the whole system as flawed and cynical, which sucks some fun out of the whole thing.
49. One of the most boring and overmatched multiple-year title contenders ever, Jason Kidd’s Nets ended up exemplifying the weakness of the Eastern Conference when Kobe and Shaq were smirking their way to three easy titles. (And they were a distant second in the underdog fun quotient to Allen Iverson’s Sixers.) As Kidd bricked threes and ground out wins at the free-throw line, the team had, at best, a way-too-Jersey anti-glamor, which at the time failed to even excite Jersey-ans normally eager for any kind of validation whatsoever. Over a decade later, Kidd still haunts the league, now bringing his gassed-out veteran leadership and grody arrest history to the rival Knicks.
50. Finally, don't be afraid to cry should your beloved Nets ever win the title...