Barclays Center still hasn’t been a home court advantage for the Nets.
Tuesday night saw Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors come to town in a clash of two of the hottest teams in basketball. The top-seeded Warriors against the No. 2 Brooklyn Nets.
It was, arguably, the most anticipated early-season matchup to date with two teams that could possibly meet again in the Finals.
Unfortunately, the game didn’t live up to the hype.
The Warriors used a big second quarter from Andrew Wiggins and a strong second half to dominate the Nets resulting in a blowout win.
However, the story in this is the crowd — or lack thereof.
Barclays Needs Bodies
Steph Curry is one of the most popular and recognizable athletes on the planet. That bodes especially true for fans of the NBA. Kids adore him, adults buy his sneakers/gear and he’s in a commercial every time you turn on the TV.
His fanbase is arguably the second biggest in the league behind LeBron James. This coupled with a large Warriors fanbase due to their championship success makes them one of the most popular teams in the league. With popularity comes large fan support, not only at home but on the road. And so was the case at Barclays Center on Tuesday.
There are a few fanbases that you know travel and show up to road games. The Knicks, Bulls, Lakers, Celtics, and Warriors are arguably the most notable.
Tuesday night the Warriors faithful were out in full force. You could see it on the concourse and in the stands. Big blotches of blue and white Warriors jerseys and apparel worn by ages young and old. An early Steph Curry three-pointer in the first quarter was all it took to hear the stark difference in fan support.
Dubs fans made their presence felt all throughout the first half and it helped that Curry was putting on a shooting display. An Andrew Wiggins buzzer-beater three right before halftime had the arena jumping and not in a good way if you were a Nets fan.
With every Curry three in the second half the more it felt like the Chase Center in San Francisco. There was a palpable buzz whenever he touched the ball.
Even the “MVP” chants for Curry were louder than the ones for Kevin Durant. The coup de grace was Curry shooting a circus three-pointer after a foul call that blew the roof of the building.
Just throwing it up for fun ?
— NBA (@NBA) November 17, 2021
Now, expecting Nets fans to drown out Warriors fans is a tough task. Heck, it’s a tough task for most home teams when the Warriors come to town. In Golden State’s most recent road game against the Hornets, there was a bevy of Warriors fans in Charlotte. However, Tuesday night showed that even though the Nets fanbase is growing day by day, it’s still not at the point it needs to be.
This isn’t to say there is no presence there. Most home games will be 80-85 percent Nets fans. And they’re passionate. The Brooklyn Brigade is one of the best and most creative fan sections around the league. Who could forget them chanting “Bobby Shmurda” at Reggie Jackson?
Nets fans chant “Bobby Shmurda” while Reggie Jackson was at the line and Reggie responded with the Shmoney dance?pic.twitter.com/ctIf1houQO
— NBA Retweet (@RTNBA) January 30, 2020
Some fans even opted to wear construction equipment to the game Tuesday in reference to the Nets’ Blue Collar Boys consisting of Blake Griffin, Joe Harris, and Patty Mills (Kevin Durant application still pending). But as loud and loyal as the Brigade is, they are but so big.
Where is everybody?
Although attendance numbers have been up for Brooklyn this season they’re still getting drowned out by popular opposing teams’ fans. Obviously, the Nets have been in Brooklyn for only a hot minute, and it takes decades to build up a local fanbase. Especially in a market that already has a basketball team.
You also have to take into consideration a large chunk of fans from the New Jersey days just haven’t been able to come out to support in person. It was much easier making it out to the Meadowlands on a Tuesday night than it is trekking it through gridlock traffic or maneuvering your way on the subway to get to Brooklyn.
Let me also say that for the reasons I just stated, the “no fans” and “attendance” jokes by Knicks fans ring hollow when you add some context and a little bit of common sense. When trash talking goes from your team’s on-court success to things like ticket prices and sellouts, you know you’re punching below the belt because it’s all you can do. But I digress.
The fact of the matter is the Nets are in the midst of a championship run and have easily the best roster in franchise history even with Kyrie Irving watching games from his house. Striking lightning in a bottle so quick after the dark years post-Celtics trade fiasco may have actually worked against Brooklyn as they weren’t able to build up that strong faithful base.
They went from Little Engine That Could in 2019 to The Monstars with barely a water break in between.
Yes, with multiple HOFers on the team there has been an increase in bandwagon presence. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing though. Just look at the Warriors. We’re adult enough to admit a good portion of these fans weren’t there pre-2015. Unfortunately for the Nets, their bandwagon presence seems to be felt more online than in the arena. This is probably the result of stans but that’s an entirely different issue for another day. But I will say this, the Curry stans made sure to be in attendance Tuesday.
Perhaps the key for the Nets to create that large home-court advantage will be to win a championship with Durant and co. It’s a lot easier to convince casual basketball fans to throw their support behind you when you’re a champion. An “If you build it, they will come” type of mentality.
Last season’s playoffs showed just how loud and encompassing Nets fans could be at Barclays Center. Of course, playoffs offer a different level of intensity from fans than regular-season matchups. But there’s no reason why playoff atmospheres can’t be replicated during regular-season games in Brooklyn.
You can’t keep letting opposing fans come in and make it their second home, regardless of what’s taking place on the court. Chants and cheers for the opposition should be drowned out by boos or “Lets Go Nets” chants. This isn’t an encouragement of a hostile environment because we’re all just trying to enjoy the game, but it has to be known that your voice isn’t going to be heard if you’re rooting for anyone other than the Nets in that building.
The Barclays doesn’t pose much of a homecourt advantage right now relative to other teams and it’s up to Nets fans to fix it.