Encore: Look out, Nets rivals! Octogenarian Mr. Whammy is coming for you
MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
For every sports team, there are fans and then there are super fans. The Brooklyn Nets have Mr. Whammy. The 86-year-old is a fixture at home games, wearing his Nets jersey over a red shirt, shouting and gesturing behind the opponent's basket, trying to hex players into missing foul shots. Reporter Jeff Lunden met Mr. Whammy at a recent basketball game in Brooklyn.
JEFF LUNDEN, BYLINE: The moment the whistle blows for a foul shot, Mr. Whammy, all 5'7" of him, springs into action. He's doing his best to distract and put a whammy on the player making the free throw. His pinky and index fingers are extended, and he's shaking both hands. He even has his own polite trash talk.
MR WHAMMY: OK, three, look at me. Look at me, three.
LUNDEN: Three is San Antonio Spurs guard Keldon Johnson. And this time, Mr. Whammy's hex works.
MR WHAMMY: I got one.
LUNDEN: Mr. Whammy is Bruce Reznick, a Brooklyn native who's been coming to Nets games since they were in New Jersey.
MR WHAMMY: I'm 86 years old and having the best time of my life thanks to the Nets.
LUNDEN: Mr. Whammy attends every game with his wife, Judy, aka Mrs. Whammy. He and Judy met in high school and have been together ever since. She helped support Reznick through law school, and he still practices with his son. All three of his kids are lawyers, and his wife is the office manager. But Mr. Whammy's passion is the Nets. He got season tickets 25 years ago and started doing his thing a few years later.
MR WHAMMY: So now, I get a little popularity in Jersey. And I get a call one day from this beautiful young lady going to University of Michigan. And she says, I saw you on TV. That's all I had to hear. That's all I had to hear. Now, I always wear a red shirt. I still wear my red shirt.
LUNDEN: Back then, he was known as Red Shirt. Reznick says he got his current nickname because he has his own code of honor.
MR WHAMMY: I don't Whammy any ex-Net, if they played only a day.
LUNDEN: So when former Nets star Jason Kidd got traded to the Dallas Mavericks...
MR WHAMMY: Now, Jason gets up to take a foul shot. And I don't give him the whammy. Ian Eagle on national TV, hey, look at that - Mr. Whammy's not giving Jason Kidd the whammy. He gave me the name, just like that on national TV. And it stuck.
LUNDEN: Ian Eagle has been announced broadcaster for 29 years. He says Mr. Whammy's passion is infectious and surprisingly effective.
IAN EAGLE: The numbers don't lie. And Mr. Whammy he keeps his own personal statistics. How do I know this? Because he will leave his stats on numerous voicemails on my cellphone.
LUNDEN: According to a recent Twitter post from the Nets, opposing teams only have a 70.3 foul shot percentage in Brooklyn, about 8 points lower on average than across the rest of the league.
EAGLE: Some opposing players, most notably LeBron James, have lodged complaints, but the Nets consistently stand by their man.
LUNDEN: As do Nets fans who love Mr. Whammy. At every break in the game, they come up and ask to take selfies with him and Mrs. Whammy.
MR WHAMMY: We have such love from the fans. They love us as much as the we love them. And we're blessed.
MRS WHAMMY: And after you turn that off, if you want to take a picture with us so you can show everybody.
LUNDEN: Are you kidding? Absolutely.
For NPR News, I'm Jeff Lunden in Brooklyn. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.