At night, Barclays Center looked like it landed on New York from outer space. It loomed over us like one of the spaceships from District 9. A high definition image of a smiling Gerald Wallace scrolled on a big screen below a giant blue illuminated 'Barclays' sign.
Glowing lights ushered us across the concourse outside the Atlantic Ave subway station and into the arena. We were there to see the first NBA game ever game played by the Brooklyn Nets - a basketball team owned jointly by a Russian billionaire and the rapper Jay-Z.
It felt a long way from New Zealand. Most of my basketball watching has taken place at the North Shore Events Centre. It was built for $6 million in the 80s, and has a history of being used for banquets and horse shows, along with sports events. Its paint is a faded but reassuring mix of pink, cream and lime green. I used to get driven there by my Mum to buy a $10 ticket and sit on wooden bleachers for North Harbour Heat games.
Barclays cost $1 billion. Tickets for the second worst seats at our pre-season game were US$120. It's loud and everything flashes. Food vendors are embedded in a ring around the entire stadium. We kept walking until we found someone selling fish tacos. We walked further and found burgers and beer. Then we ascended up an elevator and about 152 steeply cut stairs to take our place in the thinning air against the stadium wall.
From there it got disappointing. I love the NBA. We stayed in New York three days longer than we meant to so I could see this game. It was great seeing Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and even Emeka Okafor in person. It was great seeing the worst-dressed cheerleaders in all of sport. And it was worth the admission to see the former husband of Kim Kardashian make this spectacular play.
But maybe I built it up too much. Instead of a crowd of Brooklyn fans yelling for their brand new team, we had one woman talking unrelentingly about her various non-basketball related life experiences. There were times early in the game when I would inadvertently yell at a play, only to feel bad about breaking the almost yogic silence. The dancing old guy in a Nets uniform down the front seemed to be enjoying himself. The arena was like nothing I'd ever seen. But near us it was quiet. Too quiet.
We flew to Montreal the next day. By that time the burger I ate at Barclays had begun rotting in my belly. It flew through the air violently later that afternoon. It was a sad end to my first NBA experienceBy Hayden Donnell Email Hayden