Brooklyn Nets celebrate Lunar New Year at Tuesday night game against Celtics

Barclays gift shop
The Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center celebrated Lunar New Year on Feb. 13 during the team’s game against the Boston Celtics.
Photo by Ximena Del Cerro

The Brooklyn Nets dressed in distinguishable bright red and gold on Tuesday before facing the Boston Celtics, to celebrate the start of Lunar New Year. The match — and the Nets’ home base, Barclays Center — was wrapped in homages to Chinese culture with traditional and modern performances, special edition merchandise, and gifts for their fans.

Last weekend marked the beginning of the Year of the Dragon. According to the Chinese zodiac tradition, this is meant to be a year of prosperity, evolution, improvement and abundance. The fire breather symbolizes authority, richness, and good fortune. 

According to the Brooklyn Chinese-American Association, the community in Kings County is one of the largest and fastest-growing Chinese enclaves outside of Asia, as well as within New York City. The Chinese population is the second-largest foreign-born immigrant group in the city, formed by 332,255 individuals, only second to the 453,176 Dominicans, according to the city Comptroller’s census from 2017.

As fans lined up outside Brooklyn’s main basketball arena, waiting for the doors to open, a golden dragon flying through a red sky and around the Nets logo was featured on the screens above the doors to welcome them. 

All attendees found a gift in a red envelope at their seats. Each lucky red envelope contained a red bracelet wishing fans good fortune for the new year. Early arrivers were treated to a traditional Chinese dance performance by Plus 86, the student dance crew from Columbia University.

The Brooklyn Nets celebrated Lunar New Year on Tuesday, Feb. 13.Photo by Ximena Del Cerro

A video showing the players trying Chinese candy and snacks and grading them played on the scoreboard screens at the center of the stadium. Day’Ron Sharpe, center and power forward, tried Mu Hua, dough twisted and fried in peanut oil, and rated them a 5 out of 10. Meanwhile, small forward Mikal Bridges gave some colorful gummies a 10 out of 10.

During warm-up, the players and the team’s staff wore red while taking turns to shoot. As players ran onto the court, through the tunnel, they were presented in Mandarin by a Chinese announcer. 

Before the tip-off, the National Anthem was performed by a teen string quartet of Chinese origins. The scoreboard was lit red with gold lettering throughout the entire game. 

The Celtics took the lead by the end of the first quarter.

The half-time show featured one of the most popular hip-hop artists in China, rapper Yitai Wang, who won Best New Artist of the Year in 2019 at the NetEase Cloud Music, the massive online music platform awards.

On the Nets’ social media, the franchise posted videos with players who learned a line in Mandarin, wishing for a happy new year.


The Nets franchise put out two limited edition sweatshirts in red and black with a golden dragon surrounding the Nets logo at Barclays’ fan store. The merchandise was completely sold out before the game ended.

“Known for its good fortune, majestic stature, and strength,” read another post on the team’s feed. “Celebrating the Year of the Dragon in 2024!”

Ben Simmons, Nets’ point forward, said he would support southwest China’s Guizhou province with donations, as he did last year, to build a basketball court there.

The Celtics ultimately won the game after the Nets briefly trimmed the point difference to 8 for a few minutes in the last quarter. The Celtics picked up the pace and finished with a score of 118 to 110.