Although I don’t actually know for myself because I am literally a child freshly born from the womb, I’m told by native New Yorkers that venturing into Brooklyn used to be a sociocultural no-no for anyone lucky enough to be born inland. I remember sitting in a bar in Bedford Stuyvesant in 2011 as an older woman chuckled amiably at my friend and me when we told her we respectively lived in Bed-Stuy and Bushwick because of how hands-off those places were seen by presumably trendy and relevant transplants like ourselves when she was growing up. Yesterday’s breeding ground of racial and class tension depicted in Do the Right Thing is tomorrow’s row of artisinal bakeries—how quickly the city changes!
So I think I understand the impetus to rebrand Brooklyn as a hip, happening place where the youngs are popping and the olds are relocating now that the real estate market below 121st Street is financially impenetrable for most New Yorkers. That’s how the Brooklyn Nets were sold upon their relocation, bolstered by Jay-Z’s homegrown credibility, a chic black and white makeover, and an ergonomically modern stadium legally obligated to blast “WHERE’S BROOKLYN AT” every ten seconds. Combine that with the fact that basketball is a New York neighborhood staple and that the Nets fielded a solid team that still has a fighting chance in the playoffs, and the performance transition was fairly effortless.