Well, here they are — the images and icons launching the new look of the newly rebooted Brooklyn Nets.
The surprise was mitigated a bit (or perhaps spoiled completely, depending on your view of things) by advance shots of the probable (and now confirmed) logo tweeted by someone allegedly doing IT work in the Nets’ new home at the Barclays Center, and by pictures of Brooklyn Nets swag on sale in a Manhattan clothing store tweeted Friday by Uni Watch and posted by The Basketball Jones. But now it’s all official. These are the logos, as shared by Ben Couch of Nets.com. Bask in their black-and-white glory.
The primary logo — that far-left, blacked-out shield with “NETS” and a B-emblazoned basketball in the crest, zealously called “the new badge of Brooklyn” by a very optimistic Nets CEO Brett Yormark — was designed by part-owner and hip-hop legend Jay-Z, one of the most famous and successful musicians ever to come out of Brooklyn. Based on the gear available for purchase at the Nets’ team store, the team seems to be leaning pretty hard on hip-hop references in an attempt to tether the team to Brooklyn’s rap history. To wit:
• Multiple “Hello Brooklyn” shirts, a shoutout to “B-Boy Bouillabaisse” from the Beastie Boys’ 1989 classic “Paul’s Boutique.”
• A wood sign that reads “Sure Shot,” referencing the popular track off the Beasties’ 1994 record “Ill Communication.”
• Shirts referencing “Brooklyn Go Hard,” Jay-Z’s 2008 hit with Kanye West and Rihanna.
• A shirt trumpeting “THE BKLYN WAY,” a shout to a line from legendary Brooklyn rapper The Notorious B.I.G.’s first hit, 1994’s “Juicy.”
And my personal favorite of the rap references, a piece that namechecks “Brooklyn’s Finest,” the classic third track on Jay’s 1996 album “Reasonable Doubt,” on which he joined with Biggie to form a tandem they famously claimed would make enemies “[poop] their drawers.”
The coolest thing available, to me, though, is the team’s heather grey “The Corner” T-shirt. The description, from the Nets’ online store:
It’s time to show NBA basketball what Brooklyn’s all about! Wear this Unk® The Corner t-shirt to boast your pride in your borough and your b-ball team. The chest displays “Brooklyn” with silhouette sneakers dangling from the letters; the Nets’ team logo is displayed at the bottom left.
It’s a really cool image, but also could present the first test of how consumers and the NBA itself will respond to the team’s decision to go all-in on hip-hop-referencing marketing, which could potentially put the team’s brand on something associated with the dicier side of such references.
The two most popular explanations or reference points for sneakers thrown over telephone wires/power lines, which is the reference being made by the shoes hanging off the letters in “BROOKLYN,” are that the kicks serve as either informal signposts/memorials indicating that someone was murdered in that spot in connection with gang violence, or as a marker thrown up by drug dealers to let prospective buyers know that they’d found a place of business. There are plenty of other potential explanations for the genesis of the phenomenon, according to the fine folks at Snopes, but those are definitely two of them, and the shirt sure seems to be steering toward those definitions, which makes it kind of an odd fit for a “show NBA basketball what Brooklyn’s all about!” marketing campaign. Oh, well. It’s a cool shirt, and I’d definitely buy it … if it didn’t have that pesky Nets logo on it.
No word just yet on what the Nets’ new jerseys (not New Jersey, natch) will look like — the team’s slating the official public release for September, but I respectfully submit that there’s no way in hell that pictures of them don’t make their way into the Internet’s hands before that. Probably modeled by Johan Petro. He looks good in everything.