A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

The Right Name for the Nets: Brooklyn Renaissance, aka The Rens

with 4 comments

Harlem Renaissance Musician

Image via College Publisher

Okay, this is a topic dear to my heart.

As most know, the Nets are planning to move to Brooklyn and there is quite a bit of talk about changing the team’s name.  This excites me for a number of reasons.

First, people don’t seem to realize the history that Brooklyn has going for it.  Excuse while I nerd out, but Brooklyn is no mere suburb.  In the late 19th century Brooklyn was the 3rd largest (behind New York and Philadelphia).  It was only after the completion of the Brooklyn Bridge that New York City and Brooklyn started operating like one super-city and thus merged.  So when people hear about teams like the old Brooklyn Dodgers, know that this wasn’t some random team name:  The Brooklyn name was used because Brooklyn is its own metropolis.

Second, and this is no secret:  The name “Nets”, kinda sucks.  They came up with it to try to connect the old ABA franchise to the New York Mets & New York Jets, but Nets paints a picture of a team that just hangs out out passively while the other team beats their brains in.  Though to be fair, the currently bandied about name “New Yorkers” I dislike even more.  The whole beauty in using the city name “Brooklyn” is in taking pride in the borough.  To then use the nickname “New Yorkers”  essentially says “Yeah, we’re different from just another New York team, but please New York don’t think we’re abandoning you, we love you and would use the name ‘New York’ if only the Knicks didn’t exist”.

Last and most importantly, the Harlem Rens dammit.  There have really been two teams in New York history with a claim for being the best team in the world.  One was the Original Celtics of the 1920s – whose name is forever unusable beacause of the Boston Celtics.  The other was a team sometimes called the New York Renaissance, or the Harlem Renaissance, or just the Rens.  This was the dominant black team of the 20s and 30s, and they were based in the Harlem Renaissance Casino and Ballroom which came to the forefront along with the Harlem Renaissance literary movement.  Understand, using the name “Renaissance” doesn’t just channel great sport, it  channels Langston Hughes and one of the great literary movements of the 20th century.  How bad ass is that?

I hear all sorts of other names suggested for the Brooklyn franchise and to me not of them hold a candle to the new Rens.  I hear names like “Brooklyn Knights” and I think, well that’s not terrible.  I just want everyone to recognize that there is a deep connection to the Ren name that just can’t be touch by other nickname.  I’ve been trying to promote the Renaissance to every blog and forum I can think of, and I’ve yet to get an overwhelming response for the name.  If you are with then I need you to preach brutha.  I imagine that the Russians who own the team will decide on a name shortly, so we don’t have much time.  Help me fight the good fight.

4 Responses

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  1. The name Nets is fine. We have a small fanbase at this time after what many of the already small fanbase considered atrocities done to them and their franchise, but changing the name completes the disconnect and I’m not sure I or fellow fans who remain die hard and dedicated to this team will stick around. The Nets has been the team’s name since they were in NY the first time. There’s nothing wrong with it. Personally, I’m undecided if I’ll continue following the team if they change the name, but if they do change it to the “New Yorkers” I will never watch them, go to a game, or purchase merchandise baring the logo ever again.


    December 21, 2010 at 8:17 pm

  2. As a Nets fan you’ve got a very valid viewpoint, and every right to dislike my advocacy for a specific name change. Certainly, if the Nets franchise wants as priority 1 to keep Nets fans happy, they shouldn’t change the name.

    I’d also say you’ve got the right outlook if the nickname “New Yorkers” absolutely sends you over the edge. That’d be a total rejection of New Jersey, which sucks.

    I’m an Angeleno who saw the Raiders and Rams leave to go far away. With that kind of rejection of my city, I really shake my head whenever I see people try to act like the Raiders are still “our” team.

    Matt Johnson

    December 21, 2010 at 11:05 pm

  3. My choice is the Brooklyn Bombers. Catchy, alliteration, fits with basketball


    December 22, 2010 at 4:41 pm

  4. If I wasn’t so sold on the Renaissance, I’d have no problem with the Bombers. I think everyone can agree it’s better than the New Yorkers.

    Matt Johnson

    December 25, 2010 at 9:46 pm

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