Since the Nets moved here a couple years ago, I’ve missed only a handful of games at Barclays Center, and only for the rarest of occasions — epic benders, my nephew’s bird mitzvah, divorce hearings, you get the idea.
As a regular in the rafters, I’ve come to notice other Nets diehards down below who have a passion and style all their own. One such fan is Jeffrey “Gamblero” Vanchiro.
Gamblero also rarely if ever misses a game at Barclays. From my vantage point, it’s easy to know if he’s in attendance — just look for the flash of neon that’s jumping around whenever a song comes on. He’s a flamboyant character who brings a certain energy to the arena, though I’m normally not close enough to really appreciate, or be perturbed by, his dance moves.
But regardless of your take on Gamblero’s antics, you had to be shocked by the video that surfaced Tuesday night during the Knicks-Nets showdown: a one-legged man decked out in neon green being hauled out of the stands, and at one point dropped, by security at Madison Square Garden. It was Gamblero, all right.
Gamblero lost his left leg below the knee in an unspecified accident a couple decades ago. He gets around on a prosthesis. The early word out of the Garden on Tuesday was that he had hit someone with the artificial appendage, a tidbit that blew up on the blogs but was disputed by some in attendance. After the game (quick summary: the Nets still look terrible, but they can beat the Knicks), I found a statement released by management at the Manhattan arena. To wit:
“An unruly fan was ejected after MSG Security received multiple complaints from fans sitting in that area. The fan was warned multiple times before being removed. He will not be permitted back into Madison Square Garden.”
Whether or not Gamblero beaned somebody with his leg in service of his Nets fandom, I want to say this: I understand. Even my most loyal readers may be unaware that I, Crummy the Pigeon, have a prosthetic wing. See, my former brother-in-law and I got into a real dustup over a pizza crust one time — he had a box cutter, and I’d had a bit too much to drink. It’s all kind of a blur, but I know for sure that feathers flew. And now I’m single.
Years later, I was at a karaoke night Downtown, doing my go-to rendition of Montell Jordan’s “This Is How We Do It.” I was killing it, and as I was wont to do, I ripped off my prosthetic wing to offer it to the crowd as a second “microphone.” In my state, however, the fake appendage slipped out of my grasp and hit a nearby hen with whom I’d once been friendly. My explanation for what the local press later termed “winged assault” wasn’t fully appreciated, charges were filed, and I ended up stuck doing a year of community service.
Regardless of what happens with the Gamblero situation, I want readers to understand that a detached prosthesis can make for a lot of misunderstandings. Let’s hope any fallout from this incident doesn’t keep Gamblero from continuing to energize Barclays crowds, even if he may not be able to rep the Nets across the West River anymore.