BROOKLYN—Family lore has it that my mother, Shirley, 88, and still going strong, spent the first 18 months of my life in a state of dread.
My father, you see, was a diehard Brooklyn Dodgers fan - lived and died with 'Da Bums.'
When they turned their back on the greatest borough of them all and fled to Los Angeles, going from the most authentic address in the world to the most plastic, a lot of grown men from Bay Ridge to Crown Heights cried.
So beginning on Valentine's Day 1960 - the day after my birth - my father, Albert, would lean over my crib and utter three words, "The Dodgers stink.''
Shirley, a second grade teacher at P.S. 167, on the corner of Eastern Parkway and Schenectady Avenue, was mortified.
She feared the first words out of her son's mouth would be, 'Dodgers stink.'
Her worst fears never came to fruition, although no one in my Canarsie neighborhood would have looked down on us if I had, in fact, insulted the Dodgers from cradle to grave.
You see Brooklyn is many things to many people but the first word that has always come to mind is loyal.
We're loyal to our family. Loyal to our friends. Loyal to our teams.
My longest standing friendship was struck the first day of first grade at P.S. 115. More than 45 years later, Jeff Chaffkin and I are still bemoaning the fact that NBA teams don't reflect the personality of their cities.
Two years ago, we stopped fretting.
Like the sauce at Randazzo’s, like a Nathan’s hot dog, like the view of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge at the start of the New York City Marathon, all is right in Brooklyn again.
The Brooklyn Nets set up shop on Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues - and what a shop it is.
The architects designed a sports and entertainment cathedral.
The team colors - black and white - with an old school style, are the edgiest in pro sports.
The fans are wise and passionate. The owner, like millions of us that came through Ellis Island, is a real life success story.
This is the right team at the right moment in the right place.
In other words, it’s the perfect time for a Brooklyn boy to come to work for Brooklyn’s NBA team and Brooklyn’s state-of-the-art arena.
For the last 16 years I’ve been lucky enough to work at another city icon – the New York Post - covering college sports, the NBA draft, hockey and boxing.
I’ve got all of that at Barclays Center.
And my job, beginning today when the Nets host their preseason media day, is to give you the best sports reporting on the teams and athletes that are fortunate enough to walk under that oculus and suit up.
Are you ready, Brooklyn? Ready for a franchise that’s here to stay, here to compete for a title every year?
Are you ready to watch college teams that could go on to play deep into March?
Are you ready to see the greatest trophy in sports - the Stanley Cup - hoisted in Brooklyn?
Are you ready for boxing's best to toe the line and may the best man win?
We had a saying in my old neighborhood: If you were born in Brooklyn, you were born ready.
Some baseball fans still dream of bringing a franchise back to Brooklyn. It's not going to happen in our lives and our children's lives.
Some football fans are tired of schlepping to New Jersey every weekend and there's not going to be a West Side stadium, at least not for decades to come.
But the Nets -the Brooklyn Nets - are here!
The Islanders are coming.
Elite college basketball - Connecticut, Kentucky, Maryland, St. John’s - is booked.
Boxing, big time championship boxing, is buzzing like a speed bag.
This heart always will beat first for hoops. It’s the city game, the borough's game. All you need is a ball and a basket.
I can remember stepping outside, dribbling a basketball and within 10 minutes there would be 20 kids ready to play, to bleed, to argue, to laugh.
The worst feeling was the agonizing wait that came with sitting against a chain link fence after losing. No one wants next.
If the game got too heated, you settled it with fists. When the fight was over, it was over. Twenty minutes later the guy that just busted your lip could be your teammate.
Those scraps brought a respect for boxing. Once you step in the ring, even the best trainers in the world can’t help.
It’s man against man. No excuses.
I didn’t catch the hockey bug until college. My four years at Stony Brook coincided with the Islanders winning four straight Stanley Cups.
The memory of holding aloft a sparkler and singing the national anthem with the bravado of an opera star - in the soon to be renovated Nassau Coliseum - goes to the grave with me.
So does the first baseball game I attended in person – Game 4 of the 1969 World Series. The Mets, the team that tried to fill the void created by the Dodgers' departure, shook the baseball world that fall.
Well, a new fall is upon us and the buzz in Brooklyn is lighting up the city of dreamers.
The Nets are legit NBA title contenders. St. John’s is a team with Final Four potential.
You better be ready. I am. I'm in.
I can’t say it’s good to be back because Brook-Lenn never left. And I never will. Never.