Brooklyn Nets to play NBA game at Vassar’s AFC

Image courtesy of Stockton Photo, Inc.

In the waking hours of Feb. 9, ESPN NBA Insider Adrian Wojnarowski broke the news of a blockbuster trade between the Phoenix Suns and Brooklyn Nets that sent all-time great Kevin Durant to Phoenix. For the Nets, the trade marked the end of a three-year rollercoaster ride in which the franchise rose to the top of NBA relevance with championship expectations after forming a team around the trio of Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden. But, while the team seemed destined for greatness, it never really came close to it. Harden was the first to go, with a trade request that sent him to the Philadelphia 76ers at last year’s trade deadline. At this year’s trade deadline, the seemingly perpetually disgruntled Irving was sent to the Dallas Mavericks. Left without all-star teammates, Durant requested out of Brooklyn. 

In what felt like an instant, the Nets went from one of the NBA’s most intriguing teams to one without the star power that is needed to garner mainstream attention. As stars left Brooklyn, so did the fans that follow the big names. Sure, dismantling a championship caliber roster hurts a franchise in the wins column. But, losing the revenue that comes with such great relevance hurts even more in their checkbooks. Immediately, revenue has to be the priority. The Nets know this, and it is why they have decided to start attempting to grow their fanbase with a campaign called “The Next Net.”

The campaign, which was announced last week, is an effort focused on tapping into Brooklyn’s surrounding areas where the franchise believes basketball fans are waiting to be born. And rather than try to compete for the other three boroughs’ attention with their rival New York Knicks that play in Manhattan, the franchise is focusing on finding their “Next Nets” in the more northern parts of New York state. 

That’s why on April 7, the Nets are taking their Barclays Center show on the road, all the way up the MetroNorth line to the Hudson River’s Queen City, Poughkeepsie. Their regular season contest against the Orlando Magic is now scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. tip off at Vassar’s Athletics and Fitness Center (AFC). 

“Bringing an NBA team to campus has been a goal for us since I got here,” said Jorge Adames Reyes ’23, who serves on the executive board of Vassar’s Student Athlete Advisory Committee. “We really wanted the Boston Celtics, but they have ghosted us ever since appearing in the NBA Finals last year. I’m not even really sure who plays for the Nets, but we are hoping they will at least be better than our intramural basketball games.”

To incentivize attendance, there will be Nets trivia competitions in between every quarter. The winners of each trivia round will be offered internships within the Nets organization based on the student’s major. Questions are expected to include: What is our coach’s name? Do you know where Ben Simmons is? What even is a Brooklyn “Net”? When was our last NBA championship? (Careful with the trick question—the Nets don’t have one.) And, do you know anybody taller than six foot eight who might like to play for us? 

“The Nets also offered a halftime performance by Jay-Z,” added Adames-Reyes. “But we polled our peers and found that a performance by Jay-Z would actually not have been a draw. Shockingly, it was a resounding no. Instead, we have opted for a karaoke competition between ‘fans’ and the Nets players at halftime. Only songs from Beyonce’s ‘Lemonade’ will be allowed.”

Admission will be free, and students will have the opportunity to pick up an additional side hustle if they commit to wearing Nets gear for 10 hours a week. 

“We are really excited for this event,” said Adames Reyes. “We never thought an NBA franchise would pay us $10,000 to play a game on campus. The Nets may no longer have Kevin Durant, but soon they will have a lot more Seven Sisters’ students as fans.”

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