On the weekend of the 20th anniversary of the death of The Notorious B.I.G., the Brooklyn Nets will hold a “Biggie Night” to celebrate the life of Brooklyn’s legendary rapper when the Nets host their cross-city rival New York Knicks on Sunday.
Barclays Center plans to honor Christopher Wallace, Brooklyn’s most iconic rapper who was shot and killed on March 9, 1997, with Sean “Diddy” Combs and Wallace’s mother, Voletta Wallace, in attendance and paying tribute to Biggie with planned pregame and halftime ceremonies. Wallace’s children — T’Yanna and CJ Wallace, Mark Pitts and Wayne Barrow — also have been invited to attend.
Notorious B.I.G.’s music has been a fixture at Nets games since the franchise moved to Brooklyn in 2012. The rapper’s songs are played before games and at halftime, and many of the rapper’s beats are played as in-game music. Barclays also hosted the first-ever Bad Boy Reunion Tour last year when Puff Daddy headlined the sold-out event that started with a celebration of Wallace’s 44th birthday in Brooklyn.
“We infuse Brooklyn wherever possible,” Brett Yormark, CEO of Brooklyn Sports and Entertainment, told ESPN.com. “The architecture of the building speaks to the borough — 85 percent of our employees are from Brooklyn. When you think of the music we play, we obviously play tribute to artists who have made Brooklyn a home or are from Brooklyn, starting with Jay Z, Biggie and many others. It has become part of our DNA.”
Yormark said the night came together in a short amount of time after the idea was pitched to pay tribute to the rapper on the 20th anniversary of his death.
“It was an easy decision to turn this game into a moment to celebrate Biggie,” Yormark said. “Puff Daddy will obviously be involved. So it has turned into something pretty special for us.
“He’s from Brooklyn. We play his music. We consider ourselves the home of hip-hop — both Brooklyn and Barclays Center. It is very appropriate that this night takes place in Brooklyn.”
The rebuilding Nets have struggled to an NBA-worst 11-51 record this season, but the team has hosted creative events this season. The Nets hosted the first-ever Pride Night on Jan. 25, when the team held a pregame awareness panel with members of the LGBTQ community that included former Net Jason Collins, who became the first openly gay athlete to play in the four major professional sports leagues in North America, and Nets chief marketing officer Elisa Padilla.
“Obviously Biggie transcended Brooklyn,” Yormark said. “It is really a night when anyone in New York can celebrate. I think it is going to be special, and we are excited to be a part of it.”