When the Nets moved to Brooklyn for the beginning of this season, they resolved to overhaul their image and reputation to fit their hip and cosmopolitan surroundings. For an NBA team, that means creating a new mascot to communicate the franchise's ideals and attitude. So, the Nets contracted Marvel to help them devise the perfect symbol for the league's next power player.
The result was the BrooklyKnight, a terrifying creation vaguely reminiscent of a fired Medieval Times employee who took his job way too seriously. In addition to the fact that the name is maddeningly difficult to spell and say correctly, the Knight appears to be a calculated attempt to scare the very same children who are supposed to enjoy the creature most. A metal mask should not smile outside of a horror movie.
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However, it appears that the BrooklyKnight does not only trouble small children. Jimmy Fallon, host of NBC's "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" and likely the next host of "The Tonight Show," is apparently not a fan. From the new GQ cover story by Jeanne Marie Laskas, in which the author and Fallon attend a Nets home game (via Nets Daily):
We're seated nine rows back, smushed, taking in the crisp newness of the place, black and white and shiny. "This is so, so great," he says. "A little brew? A plastic cup? A holder right here? Look at this, huh?" He holds his cup up to Gavin for a toast. "De-fense!" he yells. "Isn't this great? You get to yell, 'De-fense!' " It's a happening he doesn't have to host, can just sit back and enjoy.
Cheerleaders come out. It seems like hundreds of them all over the court, all wearing hoods. Silver, shiny, scary hoods, like they're headed to the gallows? "Okay, this is disturbing," Fallon says. "People fighting, flipping around in hoods. I don't feel safe right now." A guy in silver comes running out with a handheld cannon. Big, white, solid bombs fly out. Pelleted T-shirts. "I hate this," Fallon says. "This cannot be over fast enough for me. No one wants a T-shirt. Back to the game. Oh, God. Oh, my God. I don't feel safe." He cringes, ducks his head. "This will not be here in a year," he says. "They're good dancers, but ..." The announcer screams, tells everyone to stand up and cheer. "No one's standing up. See? They need to work on this. This will not be here in a year. It's a new team. They haven't figured out what they want to be yet. That takes time....Wow, I hate this."
There you have it. A harmless man — a person so innocent that he cannot stop laughing even when his job dictates he keep a straight face — is afraid of the BrooklyKnight. In an instant, Fallon transforms from the most popular milquetoast entertainer of the internet age into a disoriented, distinctly negative fan. It's a sad change, as well as a potential preview of Fallon's reaction when he learns that the existing "Tonight Show" audience does not use Twitter.
It's unclear exactly what Fallon would like at Nets games (perhaps a zany game of beer pong), but I think his reaction speaks to several problems with the BrooklyKnight and related vibes. In truth, what happened at this Nets game is not especially different from what a fan would see in any NBA arena. The difference is that most mascots — the star attractions of this particular type of circus, really — are fuzzy, welcoming, and generally reminiscent of overgrown stuffed animals. The BrooklyKnight is very different, something akin to an aggressive action figure crossed with a frat brother's attempt to get into LARPing. It's not fun.
We can only hope that Jimmy Fallon has not been irreparably damaged by his experience. Soon, an entire nation will expect him to soothe it to sleep.
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