“I cried like a baby,” Mr. Markowitz recalled. “A lot of us cried. Family, religion and sports basically bring people together, and not having a national sports team since 1957 was an emptiness that has never been filled.”
But on Monday, he declared that void filled. He was one of the guests at the christening of sorts of the borough’s first major league team since that Great Betrayal over a half-century ago — the Brooklyn Nets.
“I see the ghosts of Ebbets Field departing,” Mr. Markowitz told a crowd at the cavernous Modell’s Sporting Goods store across Flatbush Avenue from the Nets’ rising new arena, the Barclays Center.
Though the Nets, who are moving to the borough after playing the last 35 years in New Jersey, have a well-earned reputation for haplessness, those celebrating their arrival made no complaints.
“The curse of O’Malley is officially over today,” declared Bruce C. Ratner, the builder and majority owner of the arena, who orchestrated the Nets’ move before selling most of the team to a Russian billionaire in 2009.
The main event at the news conference was the unveiling of the new Nets logos. The simple black-and-white designs prominently feature the word “Brooklyn,” all but trumpeting the fact that the players’ new jerseys are, well, no longer linked to New Jersey.
The two insignia were created by the rapper Jay-Z, who owns part of the team, and designed to resemble the black-and-white tiles and typeface of old New York subway stations. The first is a triangular shield with a basketball inside it emblazoned with the letter B and the word “Brooklyn” inscribed in capital letters underneath. The second is a circle with a letter-B basketball and the words “Brooklyn New York.”
Three shapely models standing on pedestals towered above the crowd wearing clothing with the new logos. A hundred fans snaked around the block waiting for the new Nets sweatshirts, T-shirts and hats to go on sale.
The question hovering over the event was whether the Nets would be able to fill the 18,000-seat arena. Would the team continue its uninspired play after a season in which it lost twice as many games as it won and remind residents of “Da Bums” of the 1930s Dodgers? Or would it sparkle like the Brooklyn teams of the ’40s and ’50s that won seven pennants and put a lilt of I-told-you-so pride in the steps of its lunch-pail-lugging fans?
Brooklyn, of course, is a far different place today than when the Dodgers moved west, with rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods alongside the traditional mix of working-class and immigrant communities giving it a new cultural cachet. Officials with the team, which is now mostly owned by the Russian billionaire Mikhail D. Prokhorov, are also hoping for an image change from hapless to hip, which will be important given that ticket prices peak at $1,500 for courtside seats (half the seats will be priced at $55 or under).
A number of fans buying team memorabilia expressed optimism that the combination of a new owner, a new arena and a new hometown might overcome the history of futility.
Jeff Noel, 22, of Bedford-Stuyvesant, who was carrying a half-dozen knit Nets shirts, was excited about the impact on the community.
“A lot of kids will be inspired to play in their hometown of Brooklyn,” he said.