Biggie Smalls Joins Brooklyn’s Other Finest In The Rafters Of Barclays Center (Video)
Last week (March 9) marked 20 years since The Notorious B.I.G. was tragically killed. In a professional music career that lasted fewer than five years, the man born Christopher Wallace used his commanding voice, advancing rhyme schemes, and intricate storytelling to put Brooklyn, New York at the top of the Hip-Hop map. As Biggie Smalls told audiences at 1995’s Source Awards in Madison Square Garden, “Brooklyn, we did it!”
The Bad Boy Records superstar was not able to see an NBA basketball team call his borough home. Fifteen years after Biggie’s death, his friend and collaborator Jay Z was instrumental in moving the New Jersey Nets over to the newly-built Barclays Center in Downtown Brooklyn. Now the largest indoor venue, Barclays is home to the Nets, the New York Islanders NHL team, and a number of concerts (including the Bad Boy Reunion Tour). Biggie’s friends and collaborators Big Daddy Kane, Lil’ Kim, and The LOX have since been among the acts to rock stages there.
In the five years of the Barclays existence, the venue has included Brooklyn institutions like Junior’s cheesecake, Nathan’s hot dogs, and Brooklyn Brewery in its concessions. Last night (March 12), the Nets made sure that another of the area’s greatest representatives is eternally honored in the house.
The Nets have retired a symbolic Biggie Smalls number. Numbered 72 (the year Wallace was born), the corresponding banner also features the “Juicy” lyric “Spread love, it’s the Brooklyn way.” Biggie’s mother, Voletta Wallace, his widow Faith Evans, his children, Junior M.A.F.I.A.’s Kim, and his friend and former Bad Boy employer Puff Daddy were on hand at mid-court for the ceremony:
In a speech, Puffy called for 10 seconds of noise honoring the Ready To Die creator. The public address announcer confirmed that the homage “will hang permanently at Barclays Center.” An edited medley of Biggie hits including “Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems,” “Unbelievable,” and “Hypnotize” played after.
Also on hand for a brief speech was Ms. Wallace, who quoted her late son’s infamous “Brooklyn, we did it!” line.
Biggie’s banner joins Jay Z’s, credited for eight sold out shows in the arena. The two artists, both of whom attended George Westinghouse School, collaborated on 1996’s “Brooklyn’s Finest” as well as 1997’s “I Love The Dough.” At the time of B.I.G.’s death, the artists were in talks of forming The Commission, a group said to also include Junior M.A.F.I.A.’s Lil’ Cease, Charli Baltimore, and Puffy (as mentioned in 1997’s “What’s Beef”).
Jason Kidd (#5) and Julius Erving (#32) are among the Nets’ retired player numbers.
#BonusBeat: Last week, Tim Westwood digitized two 1995 Biggie Smalls freestyles: