Major-league sports “officially returned to Brooklyn” with the Raptors-Nets opener at Barclays Center on Saturday, “ending a 55-year wait for a borough that still feels the pain of the Dodgers leaving town,” according to Tim Bontemps of the N.Y. POST. The crowd late in the fourth quarter “serenaded the players with a deafening chant of ‘Brook-lyn! Brook-lyn!’” Nets Minority Owner Jay-Z and wife Beyonce sat courtside while Owner Mikhail Prokhorov was “watching from high above in his luxury suite” (N.Y. POST, 11/4). In N.Y., Bondy & Ackert wrote Barclays Center’s “big Hollywood moment seemed lost because it was two days later” than the planned opening against the Knicks, “transportation options were iffy, and [the Nets] played an unsexy opponent.” Many tickets “were still available hours before tipoff, including $55 seats.” Rachel Robinson, the widow of baseball HOFer Jackie Robinson, “was going to participate in a ceremonial passing of the torch to Jay-Z on Thursday, [but] couldn’t make it to Saturday’s game.” Still, fans “celebrated the opening of the new era of Nets basketball with silly balloon hats and free team T-shirts that declared: Brooklyn Nets fan since Day One” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 11/4).
OPEN LINES: In N.Y., Benjamin Hoffman noted that joining the Nets before the game were former Dodgers Ralph Branca and Joe Pignatano, and Gil Hodges Jr., son of former Dodger Gil Hodges, who “exchanged jerseys with Nets players.” Ticket sales and page traffic on StubHub.com “jumped 20 percent on Saturday morning” after N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s “announcement that subway service had been restored to Brooklyn” (N.Y. TIMES, 11/4). USA TODAY’s Jeff Zillgitt reported at tip-off, it was “clear fans had trouble getting to Brooklyn.” Several empty seats were “visible in the lower and upper bowls.” The game may have been an “announced sellout based on tickets sold, but not everyone made it.” Until Saturday morning, subway operations from Manhattan to Brooklyn were “suspended, making it difficult to get between the two boroughs.” The 4 and 5 trains “began running Saturday to and from Brooklyn and Manhattan, but there are just two lines -- of 11 -- which stop at Barclays Center.” The Nets and Barclays Center "each pledged $100,000 to the Brooklyn Recovery Fund" (USA TODAY, 11/4).
SURREAL DEBUT: The WALL STREET JOURNAL’s Jason Gay writes there was “a muted energy at the Nets game, at least in the early going. … But it felt a little surreal” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 11/5). SPORTING NEWS’ Lisa Olson wrote Barclays is “designed to give the appearance of a Broadway performance, with the lights in the seats purposely dark so the court’s the only show” (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 11/4). COMICBOOK.com’s Russ Burlingame reported the Nets teamed with Marvel Comics “to create the NBA’s first official superhero, the BrooklyKnight.” The mascot “made its first appearance” during Saturday’s game, “along with the Nets’s new fight song, ‘Brooklyn: Something to Lean On’ by Grammy winner John Forte” (COMICBOOK.com, 11/3).
WONDERWALL: In St. Paul, Ray Richardson reported Raptors F Alan Anderson was “concerned about where the Raptors' team bus was headed when it pulled up to Barclays Center for the Raptors' shootaround practice Saturday morning.” Anderson said, “At first, I didn't know where the bus was going. ... I thought we were going to hit the brick wall. All of a sudden, the whole wall raised up and we went in. I've never seen anything like that before." He said Barclays Center is “first class all the way." Anderson: "Even the visiting locker rooms are like home locker rooms. They did a great job with the place, and it's in a perfect location for the city” (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 11/4).
KIND OF A BIG DEAL: Nets coach Avery Johnson said, “This is such a huge night. If I gave you a list of reasons why this was a huge night, we’d be here for a while. But let’s start off with the fact that we’re in Brooklyn now. It’s a big difference. You saw the crowd tonight, even under the circumstances. … I’m honored to be a part of it." He added, "In some ways we tried to downplay it, but this night meant a whole lot to a lot of people” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 11/4).
IT'S A BROOKLYN THING: In N.Y., Mike Vaccaro wrote, “This has to be about the Nets now, from today going forward, from today until forever. This isn’t about the Dodgers any longer, about the way they once filled Brooklyn with fever and fervor, a mutual affair that will linger as long as there are people who remember Ebbets Field and the Boys of Summer. … This isn’t about the Knicks, either, even if Manhattan’s team is bound to serve as a guidepost throughout this season.” It is “good to think about a time when the Nets are allowed -- and allow themselves -- to worry strictly about the Nets, to leave the Knicks’ problems to the Knicks, to cede the Dodgers’ history to the dreamers and the archivists and the historians.” The Nets “went about the business of building something permanent last night.” Fifty-five years after the Dodgers left Brooklyn “there still is so much affection attached to those memories, those times, those athletes." Vaccaro: "Judging by the energy in the building last night, it still can be. On its own. Walking its own path. Creating its own legacy. Building its own history” (N.Y. POST, 11/4). ESPN N.Y.'s Stephen A. Smith wrote the Nets “finally discovered what pomp and circumstance really is after slapping high-fives with Jay-Z.” Smith: “Apathy and indifference will not exist at Barclays Center. Neither will a tolerance for ineptitude nor years of futility” (ESPNNY.com, 11/3).