The arena where the Nets play could soon be renamed to feature one of Brooklyn's most famous sports icons who transcended his game and forever became a civil rights hero.
There has been a recent push by some advocates to change the name of Barclays Center to something that could honor legendary Brooklyn Dodger Jackie Robinson. The spot near Atlantic Terminal has been a main gathering area for Black Lives Matter protesters since late May.
Now, a small group of Brooklynites are trying to get the spot renamed after Robinson, who played his entire MLB career in Brooklyn after breaking baseball's color barrier in 1947. The six-time All-Star, who retired after the 1956 season and was vocal in his advocacy for civil rights throughout his life, is also buried in Brookyn's Cypress Hills Cemetery.
Park Slope resident Arthur Piccolo has spearheaded the effort to pay tribute to one of sports' biggest icons, and couldn't believe there hadn't been any large landmark honoring Robinson in the borough yet.
“You’re seeing certain individuals being criticized and their statutes rightly removed, and here’s the opportunity to do something symbolic,” Piccolo told the Brooklyn Paper. “You’re seeing certain individuals being criticized and their statutes rightly removed, and here’s the opportunity to do something symbolic."
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams supports the idea.
"Jackie Robinson was a giant who paved the way for integration in major league baseball and broke down the pervasive racial barriers in mid-century America. He contributed greatly to this borough and this city as a player, and as a private citizen. His example has inspired generations, and the causes he fought for in his time are now being taken up by activists across the country who are tired of racial injustice," Adams said in a statement. "It's fitting that this hero, who spent his major league career here in Brooklyn, should be honored by having his name placed on an important site in the borough."
Piccolo said it's long past due that something bigger in the place where Robinson spent his playing days honors him. There is a statue of Robinson alongside teammate Pee Wee Reese outside the stadium for the Brooklyn Cyclones, though little else in the borough.
“He spent his life at the forefront. While he was in the military, before Rosa Parks, he refused to sit at the back of the bus,” Piccolo told the Brooklyn Paper. “He has never been adequately honored anywhere, not even at his home.”
Barclays Center is named after the multinational British Financial company, that came under some fire in the past (and has resurfaced recently) for its role in the slave trade. The bank has a $400-million agreement over the span of 20 years to pay the Brooklyn Nets for the naming rights.
One way to prevent going against the agreement would be to adjust the name to something along the lines of "Jackie Robinson Court at Barclays Center" or other similar suggestions.