Watch out, Nets rivals! Octogenarian Mr. Whammy Is Coming For You – NPR
For every sports team, there are fans and there are super fans. For the Brooklyn Nets, that’s Mr. Whammy, aka Bruce Reznick. A fixture at Nets games since 2012, the octogenarian yells and gesticulates from behind the basket, trying to charm the opposing team’s players into missing their free kicks.
At the moment the whistle is blown for a free kick, the five-foot-seven Mr. Whammy leaps forward. He does his best to distract and put his own hex, “the punch”, on that player, his index and little fingers extended and trembling on both hands.
He even has his own polite trash talk: “Okay, 3! Look at me, look at me, 3,” he says derisively, as San Antonio Spurs guard Keldon Johnson, number 3, prepares for his first shot. He sinks it.
But Mr. Whammy is not intimidated. “Look at me, look at me. Here I am, here I am. Lady!” Johnson shoots. And he fails. Mr. Whammy exclaims, “I’ve got one!”
Reznick has been coming to Nets games since they were in New Jersey, accompanied by his wife, Judy, or “Mrs. Whammy.” They met during their senior year of high school and have been together ever since. “I’m 86 years old,” he tells me. “On February 1st I will be 87 years old and I will have the time of my life, thanks to the Nets.”
Judy Reznick helped keep her husband in law school. She is now the office manager of her law practice, where she works with one of her sons. But Reznick’s passion is the Nets. She earned season tickets 25 years ago and began lobbying opposing players a few years later.
“I got a call one day from this beautiful young woman who was going to the University of Michigan and she said, ‘I saw you on TV,'” she says. “That’s all she had to hear. Now, I always wore a red shirt. I still wear my red shirt.”
Former New Jersey Nets players like Vince Carter and Jason Kidd love it, in part because it has an indecipherable code: “I don’t hit any ex-Nets,” explains Mr. Whammy, even “if they only played one day.”
And it was sticking to his code that led to his nickname.
When point guard Jason Kidd was traded to the Dallas Mavericks, “Jason gets up for a free kick. And I don’t hit him. Ian Eagle on national TV said, ‘Hey, look at that, Mr. Whammy’s gone. hitting Jason Kidd. He gave me the name just like that, on national television. And it stuck.”
Eagle has been a Nets sportscaster for 29 years and says Bruce Reznick was hard to miss behind the basket.
“Fans recognize his love for the Nets, and in the process, he’s become a local celebrity,” Eagle says. “He really cares about the team, and perhaps more important than that, he cares about putting a spell on the other team. The numbers don’t lie. And Mr. Whammy keeps his own personal statistics. How do I know this? Because he’ll leave his stats in numerous voicemails on my cell phone.”
According to a recent post on the Nets’ Twitter page, opposing teams only have a 70.3 free throw percentage in Brooklyn, about eight points lower, on average, than the rest of the league. Eagle says: “Some rival players, most notably LeBron JamesThey’ve filed complaints, but the Nets always stick with their man.”
It’s not that Mr. Whammy wishes ill on opposing players. “I say to all the players that I wish them good luck, success and to miss their free kicks, right into their faces.”
When Jason Kidd was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, he invited the Reznicks as guests. And recently Kevin Durant, the Nets’ superstar forward, greeted those close to the couple “and when he’s done, he kisses Judy on the cheek,” says Reznick. “And she hasn’t bathed that side of her face in a month and a half! And he shakes my hand. I thought she was going to die on me right then.”
Really – everyone love Mr. Whammy. Before the game, the ushers, vendors, and security guards give him fist bumps. Whenever there’s a break in the action, fans flock to him and Ms. Whammy for selfies.
“We have so much love from the fans,” says Reznick. “They love us as much as we love them, and we are blessed.”
Oh…and the Nets crushed the Spurs that night, 139-103. Mr. Whammy was on his game.