About two weeks ago, my roomate Andrew forwarded me an e-mail promoting New Jersey Nets tickets. I was, at first, disgusted with the prospect of even opening any e-mail having to do with the New Jersey Nets. But, to my hilarity and instant enjoyment, I saw that it detailed a deal selling nosebleed Nets tickets for $2.00 a piece. Yes. Two whole American dollars.
Four days later, Deron Williams got traded to the Nets. We saw an instant rise in the price of Nets tickets. A 250% increase to...$5.00. I was enraged at the prospect of having to pay that kind of mark-up.
Regardless of my feelings of consumer betrayal and anger at such outrageous inflation, with the addition of Deron and with Steve Nash coming to town, I relented and paid such exorbitant prices to watch YOUR...New Jersey Nets in beautiful, scenic Newark, a town known for it's fine cuisine and cleanliness (though those two adjectives are not necessarily tied together)
I've been to a Nets game before. Earlier this season, I came to watch the world champion Los Angeles Lakers visit the tri-state area. The game miraculously appeared to be a near sellout (the Nets regularly have one of the lowest attendances in the league), and the arena was littered with purple and gold. In a casual, yet scientific and unexaggerated estimation, I'd say 65 percent of the crowd were Lakers fans. I scoured those in attendance for NJN gear, but as I walked through the Prudential Center, saw maybe (no joke) two dozen or so people in Nets gear. It really is that desolate.
Last Monday was Deron Williams' first home game as a Net. I expected to see a few people in newly minted Williams #8 jerseys or shirts, but by extrapolating what I knew about the fanbase, I didn't expect much more than that. We walked through the doors and I was blown away, as I instantly saw 4 or 5 people wearing white "Williams #8" shirts. "Wow" I thought, "Jersey really stepped up. People actually might be a little fired up for this. Holy shnikes". As we strolled through the concourse to our extravagantly and outrageously priced seats, I saw more and more "Williams #8" shirts and realized "Oh...this has to have been a promotion. People who are buying $2 seats are not buying $25 Nets merchandise". And I was right. Apparently the Nets stepped up and gave Williams #8 shirts to the first 10,000 "fans" in attendance.
(This kind of situation happened to me once before. When I was a freshman at Boston College, a Jesuit institution of the finest and highest of learning, I walked around campus one fine April morning and saw a girl with some dark smudges on her forehead. I did a double take as she passed and thought "Man, that is EMBARRASING! That girl has make-up all over her forehead! What a goon!". Then I saw that another girl. And another with smudges. And another. And then a couple guys. And a nun. And a dog. And another nun. So even with all the testosterone and masculine instincts that pulse in my veins that run through my well-muscled body, I betrayed my manly nature and asked what was going on - someone replyed "Ash Wednesday. They put crosses on your forehead from ashes...You don't know this?". Jesus, 1. Blake, 0)
We sat down to watch a game (which ended up being a good one - the Nets came back late to force OT and ended with a Channing Frye 3 and a Kris Humphries tip-in that was waved off after the buzzer) and after a few Sasha Vujacic-directed "MACHINE" cracks, I couldn't help but remain in amazement of the promotion the Nets had put on with the shirts. Oddly enough, my NBA nerd brain went to the the thought of "damn, that must be confusing with former obscure lottery pick Terrence Williams on the team....wait a sec...."
Terrence Williams got traded in December of last year. Is it possible that the Nets took all their Terrence Williams merchandise, the former New Jersey lottery pick who wore no. 8 before he was traded to the Rockets, and simply gave it away, trying to pass it off as Deron Williams swag???? Is it possible that the Nets marketing team hit the coincidences of all coincidences and may only lose $5 million this year, as opposed to $6 million? Is it possible that someone brought the forklift into a warehouse in Wayne, New Jersey and brought it directly to the hands of the customers in Newark, New Jersey?
Prokorhov, you Russian genius! I know that this would be such a underhanded, cheap and sneaky promotion to pull on your fans, but who gives a shit? It's brilliant! You pawned off merch that no one ever wanted to begin with and you're moving to Brooklyn in two years! No one has cared about the Nets since 1976, and that includes two Finals appearances! Wunderbar!
(By the way, how incredible is it that no one seems to care that the Nets are moving to Brooklyn? There is basically no talk of any type of fan uproar, or calls from the city or state for the Nets to stay Jersey-side. I mean, last week there was a story that the Sacramento Kings' owners might apply to have a proposal for a long rumored move out of the city to greener pastures in Anaheim and the city was in absolute disarray over it. Mind you, this was just to get the paperwork in on it, and not to actually consumate the move, let alone the fact that this would face massive opposition from the Clippers and Lakers, whose Staples Center home lies not 30 miles away from Honda Center in Anaheim. This just goes to show you that no one cares about the Nets, truly)
Great times had at the Nets game. And despite the loss, I think the first 10,000 Nets "fans" still went home happy with their Terrance Williams merchandise.