A Substitute for War

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Posts Tagged ‘Langston Hughes

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

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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.