On the heels of a push from some activists to rename Barclays Center after Jackie Robinson, one Park Slope legislator is going further — calling on the Brooklyn Nets to “embrace their Brooklyn roots” and change their name to pay tribute the famed ballplayer, who broke racial barriers in professional sports while playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers.
“The Nets moved to Brooklyn eight years ago but have still kept their New Jersey nickname,” said Assemblyman Robert Carroll. “It’s time for the Nets to fully embrace their Brooklyn roots by changing their name to honor one of Brooklyn’s most iconic and important sports stars — Jackie Robinson.”
Carroll wrote a letter to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and Nets owner Joseph Tsai on July 7 asking them to consider the change — and suggested a handful of options, including the “Brooklyn Jackies,” the “Brooklyn Jacks” and the “Brooklyn 42s.”
“Robinson played his entire career in Brooklyn and highlighting his legacy will remind millions of his trailblazing work,” said Carroll. “Brooklyn is universally known as a place of diversity and forward thought — having our only professional sports team honor the spirit Jackie Robinson would be fitting.”
The name change would rebrand the team that has played under the moniker “Nets” since 1977 — but it wouldn’t be the first time the franchise considered altering the name. When they moved from New Jersey to Brooklyn in 2012, various stakeholders pushed for a new, Brooklyn-centric name like the “Brooklyn Bridges” or the “Brooklyn Attitudes” — but they ultimately decided to keep the “Nets” name after years of deliberation, which Carroll considers a wasted opportunity.
“Brooklyn is a dynamic, diverse, and animated place, we shouldn’t have our team named after an inanimate object,” said Carroll.
In 1947, Robinson took to Flatbush’s Ebbets Field to play first base for the borough’s former ballclub — becoming the first Black baseball player to break the color barrier, which had separated white and non-white athletes from competing in the same league for more than 50 years.
Throughout his decorated 10-year playing career — during which he was named National League MVP and a six-time All Star — Robinson also became a significant advocate for Civil Rights, often railing against injustices and appearing alongside Dr. Martin Luther Kings Jr. at rallies and marches.
Now, in the current climate dominated by nationwide Black Lives Matter demonstrations, would be the ideal time for Brooklyn’s only major sports franchise to honor the late Brooklyn icon, said Carroll.
“While our nation grapples with who we should honor and what names should adorn teams and buildings it would be fitting for the Brooklyn Nets to honor the legacy of a true Civil Rights Icon and the first African American player in professional sports,” he said.
Representatives of Brooklyn Nets’ parent company, BSE Global, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.