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Three Years in, Barclays Center Is More or Less an Epic Train Wreck

Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, who already owned 80 percent of the Brooklyn Nets and 45 percent of the Barclays Center where they play, completed his full set by buying the remaining shares of those two items from developer Bruce Ratner over the holidays. Prokhorov paid $75 million in cash and $210 million in promised future payments for the purchase; that’s way less than you’d expect based on the Ratner press release’s insistence that “the transaction values the team at approximately $875 million and the arena at $825 million,” but apparently he also took on a pile of debt in the deal.

The interesting part of the transaction, though, as uncovered by indefatigable Atlantic Yards Report blogger Norman Oder, is that the financial documents released then show that the Barclays Center is apparently continuing to lose money:

The Barclays Center had a terrible year financially in the fiscal year ending June 2015. Net revenues plummeted, to less than half the total once projected, and the arena lost some $9 million in what was (roughly) its third year in operation…

The arena’s net operating income (NOI) fell well behind expectations, to $38 million, due to declines in event and related revenues, while operating expenses remained high.

 

Mikhail Prokhorov
Mikhail Prokhorov

We’ve heard this before, particularly two years ago when it was revealed that despite being one of the top-selling arenas in the U.S. in its first year, the Barclays Center was still barely breaking even after paying off its construction debt, thanks to high operating costs and discounts being offered to performers to lure them to Brooklyn instead of one of the New York area’s many other arenas. (This will come as no surprise to professional arena managers, who note that it’s rare in these days of fewer touring acts and venue glut for an arena to turn even an operating profit, let alone pay off near-billion-dollar construction debts.) That seems to be even more the case now, and while the arrival of the Islanders this fall provides more guaranteed booked dates for 2015–’16, that’s not necessarily a good thing for the bottom line: More hockey means fewer nights available that the arena can be rented out for concerts, and the arena’s weird rent deal with the Islanders — the arena pays team owner Charles Wang a flat negative rent but keeps all ticket and other revenues — means that if ticket sales are slow, the arena could end up taking a loss on the NHL.

A Ratner spokesperson fired back at Oder on Wednesday, saying he’d misinterpreted the numbers, most significantly by ignoring the fact that $13.8 million in Barclays Center expenses was for a loan that the arena borrowed from Prokhorov himself, making it “the equivalent of monies paid to ourselves.”

See also: The Barclays Center Now Has a Tidal Theater With a Fancy Curtain or Something

That’s not really quite right — Ratner’s arena holding company and Prokhorov’s business are two distinct entities, which is the whole idea behind one being able to sell the Nets and arena to the other — but if Prokhorov is really wiping that loan off the books as part of this deal, it doesn’t make the Barclays Center a more profitable enterprise; rather, it just means that it might end up technically in the black if one of its lenders decides that he’d rather get to stretch out by himself in the owner’s box than actually have the building pay off its construction debts.

The Nets being terrible doesn't make the Barclays Center debacle any easier to swallow.
The Nets being terrible doesn’t make the Barclays Center debacle any easier to swallow.

In any event, all of this means it’s a good time to wonder exactly what the hell Ratner and Prokhorov got out of this arena that has turned a large swath of Brooklyn upside down for more than a decade now. The purchase price on the last chunk of the arena valued it at slightly less than the construction cost, so while we don’t have access to Ratner’s bank statements, in all likelihood the developer is not quite breaking even on the money he poured into the arena itself. (Yes, he got a pile of public subsidies, but those were in the form of discounted land and tax breaks, so not anything he can actually put in the bank now that he doesn’t own the building.) He also got the development rights to a bunch of land where he can erect apartment towers, but that hasn’t been going all that smoothly, either, though at least a couple of buildings are now close to completion.

Prokhorov, meanwhile, has put in somewhere around $1 billion in order to own a historically awful NBA franchise, plus an arena that might just, if you squint, be able to break even. Of course, he might see this as a perfectly reasonable price to pay to be able to hang out with NBA players and do whatever the hell this is. He has more billions where that came from, anyway.

As for Brooklyn residents, we now have a terrible basketball team to watch, and a pretty decent hockey team, and a garish arena and some growing housing towers on a site that otherwise would probably have something similar anyway, given that pretty much every possible site in Brooklyn now has a ginormous apartment building going up on it. And any revitalization effect on the surrounding neighborhood has been mixed at best: There’s a Shake Shack and other new restaurants, certainly, but then, there were new restaurants opening in droves in that area even before the arena was planned; data provided to the Voice by the city Independent Budget Office doesn’t show any indication that more new businesses have opened in the Barclays Center’s 11217 zip code than in other nearby parts of Brooklyn. Meanwhile, the site of the old Triangle Sports sporting goods store, which was cited as the harbinger of a land rush when its owners closed it and put the building up for sale, is still vacant almost four years later.

It’s probably too simplistic to say of the Brooklyn arena that everybody ended up a loser, but we certainly haven’t seen any slam-dunk winners yet. So for now, man, is this turning out to be an epic train wreck, or what?

Neil deMause is a frequent contributor to the Village Voice. He is currently working on a book called The Brooklyn Wars about the transformation of the city’s most populous borough.

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The Ten Best Dishes at Barclays Center

When the Barclays Center opened in the autumn of 2012, it promised to be a boon to local business. To deliver on that vow, it launched Brooklyn Taste — a collection of no fewer than 55 Brooklyn-based food vendors scattered across multiple levels of the 18,000-seat arena. Most of these purveyors cook up event-friendly fare specific to the venue. Together they represent a wide spectrum of dining options indicative of their home borough’s ethnic diversity. Dining at Barclays is unlike the predictable junk-food-fueled experience of a typical stadium. But as at any other sportsplex, it doesn’t come cheap. To accommodate the constraints of your wallet — and stomach — we’ve assembled a list of the ten best dishes to seek out during your next Nets game, rock concert, or (next season) NHL match.

10. Signature Concrete ($7.50), Junior’s, Section 26

This frozen Frankenshake blends organic Blue Marble ice cream with chunks of fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies and Junior’s legendary cheesecake. It’s a textural marvel served in a plastic drinking cup, best tackled with a spoon.

9. Grilled corn Mexican-style ($5.75), Habana, Sections 25, 209/210

Habana’s handheld offering is like corn on the cob on steroids: The ear is dusted in a layer of tangy cotija cheese before it takes a bath in chile powder and fresh lime. Each semi-sweet bite is lifted by smoky char from the grilled kernels.

8. Boneless wings ($11), Buffalo Boss, Section 22

These bite-size morsels of white-meat chicken are caked in a thick breading, which provides ample crunch and a perfect landing pad for generous amounts of spicy buffalo sauce. They’re served alongside a pile of Nathan’s crowd-pleasing crinkle fries. It’s a well-executed, classic combination of flavors that’s bungled far too often at inferior venues.

7. Cali’s Greek nachos ($12), Thomas’ Greek Kitchen, Section 225/226

Familiar arena fare gets a Mediterranean makeover in this gut-busting array of feta, scallions, kalamata olives, and beef chili heaped atop house-baked pita chips. The savory beef works well against the saltiness of the olives. With plenty of chopped tomatoes and onions topping off the plate, it can get messy. Bring a napkin, and some friends.

6. Baja Fish Taco ($14), Calexico, Section 03

Ordering fish at a sporting event seems like a bold move, but the beer-battered tilapia at the core of this Mexican staple is legit. Flaky and not overly greasy, it brings a delicate seafood flavor that’s still detectable through the sweet mango salsa add-on. Lining the pair of flour tortillas is your standard-issue chipotle “crack sauce” — basically a spicy sour cream.

5. Smoked White Cheddar Brat ($8.50), Brooklyn Bangers & Dogs, Sections 08, 225/226

This ain’t your typical dirty-water dog. Plump and juicy house-crafted, German-style bratwurst opens up to reveal an inner lining of molten white cheddar. The smoked sausage is served tucked inside a locally baked potato roll, the perfect vehicle for squishing up any additional flavor that might otherwise be lost along the way.

4. Lobster Monster ($18.50), Boomer and Carton Kitchen, Section 17

Red Hook Lobster Pound provides the goods in this mouth-watering union of crustacean, mayo, and butter-toasted bun. Sizable lumps of tail, claw, and shoulder are all prominent, studded with the occasional chunk of celery and sprinkled with chopped scallion. It’s a mouthful of meat to help justify its stately sum. [

3. Batchagaloop Burger ($14), Boomer and Carton Kitchen, Section 17

This absurd smorgasbord between buns was invented by local sports radio personality Craig Carton. The sandwich stacks an American-cheese-blanketed beef patty from Paisanos with deep-fried chicken fingers, pickles, and french fries on a buttered brioche. Beyond the novelty, the constituent parts work surprisingly well together. And you have to applaud efficiency: Why waste time eating everything individually?

2. Hot Pastrami on Rye ($16.75), David’s K Deli, Section 06

It can’t be a proper Brooklyn experience without a decent Jewish deli. And the hot pastrami from David’s K is beyond decent — it’s delicious. More than half a pound of thinly sliced smoked meat is piled high betwixt two pieces of traditional rye bread. It’s served without frills — just a small cup of slaw and an oversized sour pickle on the side.

1. Short rib banh mi ($13.75), Fatty ‘Cue BBQ, Sections 07, 222/223

One of the city’s best barbecue joints, Fatty ‘Cue is renowned for fusing the flavors of the South with Southeast Asia. Here, it elevates the standard Vietnamese sandwich into the stratosphere, building it around tender beef short rib. The meat is magnified with a unique smoky-sweet barbecue dressing and finished with a crunchy layer of cabbage-carrot slaw. A doughy French baguette holds it all together.

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A Brooklyn Nets Fan Responds to “Gentrification’s Team” Label

Two weeks ago, we called the Brooklyn Nets “Gentrification’s Team.” It wasn’t a particularly enlightening revelation, of course, but it was now supported by cold hard unscientific data.

The New York Times had used Facebook likes to create a map showing the most popular NBA team in every zip code in America. The Knicks owned almost every zip code from Poughkeepsie to Rockaway Beach, from Jersey City to the Hamptons. Every neighborhood, that is, except a block of seven zip codes surrounding Barclays Center. This was Nets territory. And as other, slightly more scientific data (not Facebook, but Census) showed, this block also housed the highest concentration of Brooklyn’s new residents.

Unlike longtime Brooklyn dwellers, many of these transplants had no prior ties to the Knicks. “In a sense,” we wrote, “the franchise has helped engineer its own fan base: Barclays Center attracted more development, which attracted more out-of-town transplants to the area, which expanded the pool of potential Nets fans.”

But these Nets fans are not simply colors on a map nor numbers on a spreadsheet. There are personal reasons behind their loyalties.

See Also: The Brooklyn Nets: Gentrification’s Team

Brooklyn resident Dana Jensen reached out to us, and presented the view from Nets Nation:

I’m a Nets fan that’s not from Brooklyn and it’s time the boo-hoo’s out of the self-proclaimed diehard, authentic fans stopped. Because the truth is, if you’re a true fan, one that believes and supports the team throughout wins and losses, then you also appreciate what the Nets truly are.

For those born and raised, ride or die Brooklyn, the Nets are their team. They’re a long-awaited symbol of pride for the people who have forever called Brooklyn home. It’s a milestone for the borough, and a well-deserved one at that.

But they’re also my team. The truth is, all us transplants come to New York for the same reason you born and bred types stay. It’s about time we all stop defining the lines between what was versus what is.

We settled into Brooklyn because we found a home. We found something to hold on to and build on, and no one should have to justify or prove that. I can’t help where I came from or where I grew up, but I can do something about where I am now. I choose to live here, and I have the right to be proud of my home.

Let’s not forget that the Nets shed their old colors for their new ones and reinvented their team identity in Brooklyn. Just like many of their fans, they aren’t from here. That’s why I’m a Nets fan.

The Nets represent why us transplants come here and why we feel so at home. Brooklyn is where I came to find a new identity; I became what I wanted to be and left the past behind. We got our start the same way, and for that I choose to wear black and white.

Dana is not an outlier. Facebook likes tell one story. Walking south and east of Gentrified Brooklyn tells another: it’s not just newcomers who choose to wear black and white.

In Flatbush and Brownsville and East New York, you can barely go a few blocks without seeing somebody in Nets gear. This spring, at park benches and in front of bodegas, grown men talked Nets.

Most of the folks who rock the gear, though, are younger, grade schoolers and twenty-somethings. Perhaps the Knicks’ struggles through much of their lives kept them from developing a bond (the team had nine straight losing seasons from 2001 to 2010). Or perhaps they just want to rep where they’re from.

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The Brooklyn Nets: Gentrification’s Team

Many of the basketball fans who grew up in Brooklyn cast their allegiance with the Knicks long ago. So the Nets had a smaller pool of potential supporters to begin with when the franchise moved from New Jersey to Brooklyn in 2012.

Earlier this week, the New York Times created a map showing the most popular NBA team in each zip code in America. It used Facebook likes as the metric for popularity.

Not surprisingly, the map showed that the Knicks remain the team of choice for all five boroughs (plus Long Island, Westchester County, and much of New Jersey). The Nets were the favored team in just eight of Brooklyn’s 46 zip codes. A look at those zip codes, however, reveals that the Nets are indeed developing a core fan base.

See Also: Brooklyn Nets’ Minority Owner Values Franchise at $1 Billion

One of those zip codes, Canarsie, had a virtual split between the Nets and Knicks: each team won 21 percent of the votes.

In each of the other seven zip codes, the Nets topped the Knicks by at least two percent. Those zip codes form a block containing the following neighborhoods: Park Slope, Fort Greene, Bed-Stuy, Prospect Heights, Clinton Hill, Crown Heights, Carroll Gardens, and Red Hook.

Those neighborhoods surround Barclays Center, so it makes sense that there is heightened support there. But the dynamic goes deeper than that.

Those neighborhoods are also the core of Gentrified Brooklyn, thanks in part to the Barclays Center, and they contain the borough’s highest rate of new residents from out of state.

WNYC’s “New New Yorkers” map, which used new resident census data from 2007 to 2011, illustrates this nicely:

Most of Brooklyn's new residents reside in Nets territory.
Most of Brooklyn’s new residents reside in Nets territory.

As it happens, “people who didn’t grow up in New York City” are just the sort of non-Knicks fans the Nets are looking for.

In a sense, the franchise has helped engineer its own fan base: Barclays Center attracted more development, which attracted more out-of-town transplants to the area, which expanded the pool of potential Nets fans.

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Nacho Discounts! Yeah! That Oughta Fix the Nets’ PR Problem!

The Brooklyn Nets are offering fans an olive branch – or at least cheaper nachos – after this week’s tweet heard ’round the borough created a dust-up between the organization and its fledgling faithful.

The club is offering free t-shirts and concession discounts to fans who arrive 90 minutes before the 7 p.m. tipoff of tonight’s elimination playoff game against the Toronto Raptors.

The move is in response to the firestorm of bad PR the team received during and after Wednesday night’s Game 5 loss to the Raptors before a raucous crowd in Toronto. The trouble started when a Nets and Barclays Center flack, Lenn Robbins, took to the team’s Twitter account and challenged Nets fans to “take note” the electric atmosphere inside the Air Canada Center.

See also: Here’s Where to Eat Like a Baller (and Drink After the Third Quarter) at the Nets Playoff Games

The reaction was swift and loud.

The Nets didn’t take down the tweet but did distance itself from Robbins’ post on Thursday by tweeting:

And they’re hoping to see them there early. Those fans who roll in for 25 percent off (food only) concessions will also be given a free Nets t-shirt. The club is hoping to end what has been a disturbing trend of the first two home games of the series which saw a late-arriving crowd – especially in the most visible seats closer to the floor – that often struggled to find its voice.

In Game 3, the first game in Brooklyn, the crowd spent much of the first quarter chanting “USA! USA!” It was an odd choice considering the Nets’ owner is Russian and employs three foreign-born players.

The second game was equally as uneven, amplified by the fact that the Nets struggled down the stretch and eventually lost the game.

As for Robbins, he’s remained silent on the issue of his tweet, but appears to be trying to make amends. Since firing off the offending tweet he’s tweeted 18 times from his personal account – all positive.

See also: Get to Know the Toronto Raptors


 

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Swish!

We love how Brooklyn has embraced the Nets, their first big-league team in more than 50 years, and a game at Barclays is an event. The Nets have been amazing in 2014, 15-6 as we go to press. This puts them second in the Atlantic Division and definitely in playoff contention. They’ve also given fans some big excitement, beating two top teams this year, the Thunder and the Heat (in a double overtime thriller). Although we miss Brook Lopez, out for the season with a foot injury, it’s fun to see Kevin Garnett (team leader in rebounds), Deron Williams (leading team in assists), and Paul Pierce (most steals) pounding the boards. The Bulls have never recaptured the Michael Jordan glory years, but this year they’re over .500 and in line for a playoff berth. Plus, there’s a revenge factor here: The Nets have lost to the Bulls in their two previous meetings this year, so look for them to be in high gear.

Mon., March 3, 7:30 p.m., 2014

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Point: Jay-Z Sold Out Brooklyn

 

Counterpoint: Jay-Z Saved Brooklyn

According to Jay-Z’s own mythology, at some point in the ’90s he used an apartment at 560 State Street in Brooklyn’s Boerum Hill neighborhood as a stash spot for his drug-peddling paraphernalia. Last week, the rapper played eight back-to-back shows two and a half blocks away at the new Barclays Center arena, which will also host the Brooklyn Nets basketball team he owns less than 1 percent stake in. The concerts were billed as a celebration of Brooklyn, with Jay symbolizing the resurrected pride and pomp of the borough. But that’s just promotional fluff: Jay’s role in the Barclays Center debacle is a crass case of selling-out the borough’s soul for a stash of cash.

See also:
Hello Brooklyn: Jay-Z’s First Night at the Barclays Center
Jay-Z – Barclays Center (Day 2)
Jay’s First Concert at Barclays, a Movie Opposed to Barclays, And a People Not So Divided

The objections with the Barclays Center have been well reported on: The stadium was finagled into existence against local opposition by using an eminent domain claim; the project hasn’t yet come through on the promise to create local jobs; the introduction of waves of concert and basketball game goers will add to the traffic congestion in the area. (To those who have claimed the influx of extra bodies wasn’t too bad during opening week: Enjoy the fateful day with 19,000 Juggalos spray piss and Faygo on your sidewalks.) The Barclays Center is also easy to mock, not least for its look. After quickly reneging on claims that super-architect Frank Gehry would be designing the arena, its final form could be kindly characterized as a gigantic rust bucket. It might be the first structure in New York City that will look better once it has been coated with a patina of pigeon poop. But the Barclays Center is here and it’s not going away. Day to day, the borough will adapt just like it always does. That’s the cycle of change in New York. Less easy to come to terms with is Jay-Z’s role in the project.

As some amalgam of Jay-Z the hustler-turned-rapper from the Marcy Houses projects and Jay-Z the corporate business man, he has embraced a role as the figurehead for the stadium. Seeing images of him performing there last week brings to mind the closing scenes of a corny sports movie: The local boy who overcame adversity to snatch victory right at the whistle. Except Jay-Z’s rise isn’t about overcoming adversity so much as having sold a lot of drugs (including crack) to a lot of people who lived in his neighborhood and then taking that money and forming a music career based around rapping about having sold lots of drugs to those same people. At least that’s how Jay-Z has defined his rise in his own songs. On the second night of his string of shows, he gloated about his position, telling the crowd, “Today is a beautiful day and a dream realized. . . . I’m living proof that dreams come true.” But it leaves an image that smarts: No matter the tiny scale of Jay’s actual stake in the Barclays Center, the dream he talks about is one that proves that selling a crap load of drugs (and presumably decimating families in the process) can pay off.

Posing for the cameras during opening week, Jay-Z came across like he’d fulfilled the path that The Wire‘s fictional Stringer Bell character lusted after, becoming something of a legitimate businessman. But as his detractors have been eager to point out, Jay hasn’t so much been welcomed into the business realm of Bruce Ratner and Mikhail Prokhorov, the real financial forces behind the venture, as allowed himself to become a promotional puppet to help push their own financial goals. For his part, Jay seems content to play along with the facade, telling the crowd how, “I’m a young black African male who was raised in a single-parent home in low-income housing, and I stand before you as an owner of the Brooklyn Nets.” It’s probably a lot snappier to say that than admitting you own less than one-fifteenth of one-percent of something.

Despite presenting the Barclays Center as something to benefit Brooklyn, Jay-Z’s posturing as the face of the project is a strictly selfish stance. The Center hasn’t produced any sort of career options for kids in the area (let alone the Marcy Projects), unless you count being given the chance to take fast-food orders as creating opportunities for the better of the community. The scale of the stadium is too large to do anything to aid and foster the borough’s music scene. Long-time local businesses are also faced with a prohibitive rent hike next time their leases come up. For the Barclays Center to become a valued part of the community (and a part of Brooklyn’s appeal) it has to integrate into the community. How about offering high-school kids in the borough an expedited chance to become part of the Nets’ marketing team? Instead, the stadium’s scale and corporate glow casts it as a reminder that Jay-Z may like to endlessly brag about his ties to Brooklyn, but these days he’s more interested in how pimpin’ out the allure of the borough can increase his bottom line.

Rappers, of course, don’t have any obligation or commitment to give back, no matter how rich they become. But Jay-Z’s role in the Barclays Center isn’t as just a rapper. He has become the public face of a stadium that large numbers of long-time residents in the borough didn’t want; he’s been content to smile for the cameras wearing Brooklyn-branded clothing while behind the scenes his wealthier cohorts rake in cash from his former community. So for now, Jay-Z can perform a few shows and bandy around slogans proclaiming Brooklyn’s pride. But when the memory of the shows fades, what will be left? Jay-Z’s unwitting gift to his borough of birth: A big ol’ heap of rust dumped between Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues.

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The Nets Vs. The Knicks: The Basketball War for New York Love

While I was on the F train to Prospect Park, I noticed a structure in the distance as the subway came above ground around Carroll Gardens. It was a futuristic building of epic proportions; a huge MSG-like structure in the middle of Atlantic Avenue. For a second, I wondered what the hell this building was until I realized where I was: Downtown Brooklyn.

This was the soon-to-be home of the mega-concert for Jay-Z and the European EDM spectacle, Sensation White. But, more importantly, the Barclays Center in the distance would soon host Brooklyn’s first national sports team since the Dodgers: the Nets.
During my lifetime, I have never seen a new addition to my sports team inventory. The last major shake-up of athletic things (for me, at least) was when John Rocker of the Atlanta Braves started a war against the Mets and the rest of New York. Maybe Linsanity as a close second. But, now,  almost too coincidentally in regards to the happenings in the outer borough, Brooklyn is being graced with a sports team – the only missing cog in the quasi-Renaissance of the area.
That means we will have two basketball teams playing with only a river in between them. Who cares about the Yankees/Mets rivalry? The Nets/Knicks is shaping up to be even more tenuous and the season hasn’t even started yet.

What’s interesting, first, about this war for our respect is the concentration on boroughs. This makes the Nets/Knicks showdown stand out from that of the Yankees/Mets: although it is definitely a Bronx versus Queens relationship, respectively, the teams still are just the New York Yankees and the New York Mets. We’re fighting each other as New Yorkers, not as denizens of a certain locale.

So for rivalry beginners, here’s a quick note: the New York Knicks are no longer to be called the “New York” Knicks; with the Nets having a borough in their name, localization here is key. Now, they are the Manhattan Knicks. At a pep rally outside of the Brooklyn Borough Hall yesterday, Marty Markowitz, the Borough President of Brooklyn, told us you why:

“For any Brooklynites still rooting for the Manhattan Knicks, as of November I’m giving you fair warning… it’s treason to support the outer borough’s team over our Brooklyn Nets. Besides, when it comes down to it, we all know the Brooklyn Nets will shut down the Manhattan Knicks the first time they play each other.”
Notice the term drops there: “the Manhattan Knicks,” “treason,” “Brooklynites.” Regardless of Markowitz’s prediction based on stats that do not exist yet (the Nets have never played a game yet…), it is evident that the tone of his statement is incendiary and anxious. He wants a rivalry; he wants to prove why the borough he oversees is better than the one with filled with Manhattanites with their hoity-toity Park Avenue and their flashy Empire State Building. He continued the insults with a shot at Madison Square Garden:
“Now that the Barclays Center is in town, the national basketball spotlight is focused on Brooklyn’s big stage and Madison Square Garden just doesn’t have that same sparkle anymore… so move over Manhattan – enough air balls. You had your chance.”
Harsh. Now, let’s look at the teams’ remarks. The GM, Billy King, has called these guys the best backcourt in the NBA already  – that includes Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Gerald Wallace and Brooke Lopez. The first two, King argued, are better as a duo than Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash. In other words, they’re so good that they don’t even have to play a game together to prove that they are the best in the league. Another result of the rivalry: extremely high expectations.
When asked who the best basketball team in New York is, Joe Johnson shrugged off the question and simply said, “The Nets. Definitely the Nets.” It is strange, however, that it is the newcomer calling the shots here: one would think that the Knicks franchise would start the borough feud with its younger Brooklyn brother. The underdog here, somehow, has become the one with the loudest voice. We’ll just see how loud that dog can bark come October.
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Phil Mushnick, Of “New York N—–s” Shame: I’m Not A Racist — I Outed Marge Schott!

New York Post columnist Phil Mushnick wrote a pretty idiotic column last week (part of which you can read below), in which he suggested Jay-Z should rename the Brooklyn Nets the “New York N—–s.” Mushnick remains unapologetic — since we reported on Mushnick’s stupidity last week, he’s hit us with a few scathing emails. The gist of his rants: we’re assholes, and he ain’t no racist. His proof: he claims he outed the deceased, racist, Nazi-sympathizing former owner of the Cincinnati Reds, Marge Schott.

“I’m never comfortable using that word [nigger]. That’s the way I was raised.
Shame on my parents,” a sarcastic Mushnick writes. “The ONE time I spelled it out – for accuracy – I
was widely condemned as a racist. So either way, I’m a bigot. I know
what’s in my heart and my head, the way I was raised, and the way I
raised my kids. But you’ve painted me a racist. Good work, James. And
good work, if you can get it.”

As we pointed out to Mushnick, we never called him a racist — not once. We don’t know the guy and won’t speculate on his racial sympathies. What we do know is that he used the word “n—–s” in a column, which is an incredibly stupid, insensitive things to do — regardless of the context, or the race of the person using the word.

In a previous email from Mushnick, he tries to argue that Jay-Z uses the
word “niggas” all the time, as if that makes his using the word
acceptable. As we also pointed out to Mushnick, just because Jay-Z — as
a black man — uses the word “niggas,” it doesn’t make it OK, and we
would have called him out the same way we called out Mushnick if he even
joked about renaming the Brooklyn Nets the “New York N—–s.”

As we mentioned, Mushnick attempts to defend himself by claiming he outed Schott.

“One last fleeting thing, perhaps a defensive thing. Recall Marge Schott,
the racist owner of the Cincy Reds who was infamously banned from
baseball for her n-word – sorry, nigger – references to blacks?” Mushnick asks. “Know who
publicly exposed her, leading to her expulsion? Ah, never mind. You
already know me as a racist. Ever hear of McCarthyism? That’s you.
Ready, fire, aim. Nice job.”

We don’t know if Mushnick’s actually the reason Schott was banned from
baseball — sure, he wrote about her, but so did nearly every sports
writer in America in the early 1990s. In a brief search of the
Interwebs, we couldn’t find a single reference to Mushnick being the
reason Schott was dubbed the Swastika-armband-owning racist she was.
Either way, calling Marge Schott a racist doesn’t excuse his poor choice
of words in last week’s column.

Mushnick was on the defensive again in an email he wrote to the Post’s “Bob’s Blitz” blog, in which he writes the following:

Bob – Such obvious, wishful and ignorant mischaracterizations of what I
write are common. I don’t call black men the N-word; I don’t regard
young women as bitches and whores; I don’t glorify the use of assault
weapons and drugs. Jay-Z, on the other hand…..Is he the only NBA owner
allowed to call black men N—ers?”

Jay-Z profits from the worst and most sustaining self-enslaving stereotypes of black-American culture and I’M the racist? Some truths, I guess, are just hard to read, let alone think about.

(Same
column I provide support for Amar’e Stoudemire at a time when everyone
in town is ripping him to shreds. That was my LEAD, too, but what does
that matter?)

See that? Mushnick defended a black guy! Better get that NAACP Image Award ready.

As promised, below is the part of Mushnick’s column that caused such a stir:

As long as the Nets are allowing Jay-Z to call their
marketing shots — what a shock that he chose black and white as the new
team colors to stress, as the Nets explained, their new “urban” home —
why not have him apply the full Jay-Z treatment?

Why the Brooklyn
Nets when they can be the New York N——s? The cheerleaders could be
the Brooklyn B—-hes or Hoes. Team logo? A 9 mm with hollow-tip shell
casings strewn beneath. Wanna be Jay-Z hip? Then go all the way!

Again, Mushnick may not be a racist, but he’s definitely an idiot.

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Phil Mushnick Offers The Voice A (Poor) Explanation Of “New York N—–s” Column *UPDATE*

*UPDATE* Mushnick defends himself further by claiming he’s not a racist because he outed Marge Schott. Click here for details.

Since our prior post about New York Post columnist Phil Mushnick’s column suggesting the Brooklyn Nets should change their name to the “New York Niggers,” Mushnick sent us an explanation of his offensive column.

It’s pretty lame — he basically says we can thank rappers (read: black people) like Jay-Z for the term “nigga,” a word he assures us he doesn’t use. He says our suggestion that his (terrible) attempt at satire was racist is “wishful and foolish.”

See his explanation below.

“James – did you actually read what I wrote and what I’ve been
writing for 30 years? I don’t call black men niggas; my kids never heard
the word until folks such as Jay-Z came along. I’d suggest you talk to
him about it. What I wrote today was on Jay Z’s artistry, and only the wishful and foolish would so badly misinterpret and mischaracterize it as you plan to do. Thanks – mushnick.”

Below is the part that currently has the blogosphere calling Mushnick a racist:

As long as the Nets are allowing Jay-Z
to call their marketing shots — what a shock that he chose black and
white as the new team colors to stress, as the Nets explained, their new
“urban” home — why not have him apply the full Jay-Z treatment?

Why
the Brooklyn Nets when they can be the New York N——s? The
cheerleaders could be the Brooklyn B—-hes or Hoes. Team logo? A 9 mm
with hollow-tip shell casings strewn beneath. Wanna be Jay-Z hip? Then
go all the way!

 

Speaking of “all the way,” the same should apply to Mushnick — in other
words, if he thinks he’s got the chops to get away with using the word
“nigger,” why the censorship? Ditch the dashes and put it out there,
Phil — you mean “New York Niggers.” That’s what you wrote — a few dashes doesn’t make it any less offensive.

When asked if he at least understands why people are in such a huff over his column, Mushnick tells the Voice “I’m far more surprised that Jay-Z’s form of artistry has been so quietly indulged for so long!”

In any event, as we mentioned in our prior post, Mushnick may want to
get his lipstick handy — chances are Jesse Jackson’s ass will soon be in need of a
smooch.