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Look out, Nets rivals! Octogenarian Mr. Whammy is coming for you

Bruce Reznick, known as "Mr. Whammy" at a Nets game earlier this month.
Brooklyn Nets
Bruce Reznick, known as "Mr. Whammy" at a Nets game earlier this month.

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 shouts and gestures behind the basket, trying to hex players on the opposite team into missing their foul shots.

The moment the whistle blows for a foul shot, Mr. Whammy, all five-foot-seven of him, springs forward. He does his best to distract and put his own hex — "the whammy" — on that player, his pinky and index fingers extended and shaking on both hands.

He even has his own polite trash talk: "Okay, 3! Look at me, look at me, 3," he says tauntingly, while San Antonio Spurs guard Keldon Johnson, number 3, tees up for his first shot. He sinks it.

But Mr. Whammy is undeterred. "Look at me, look at me. Here I am, here I am. Miss!" Johnson shoots. And misses. Mr. Whammy exclaims, "I 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 his senior year of high school and have been together ever since. "I'm 86 years old," he tells me. "February 1st, I'll be 87 years old and having the best time of my life, thanks to the Nets."

Judy Reznick helped support her husband through law school she's now the office manager of his law practice, where he works with one of his sons. But Reznick's passion is the Nets. He got season tickets 25 years ago and started putting the whammy on opposing players a few years later.

"I get a call one day from this beautiful young lady going to University of Michigan, and she says, "I saw you on TV," he says. "That's all I 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 him, partially because he has an unbreakable code: "I don't whammy any ex-Nets," Mr. Whammy explains, even "if they played only a 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 to take a foul shot. And I don't give him the whammy. Ian Eagle on national TV said, "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."

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 he's become a local celebrity in the process," says Eagle. "He genuinely cares about the team, and maybe more importantly than that, he cares about hexing the other team. The numbers don't lie. And Mr. Whammy keeps his own personal statistics. How do I know this? Because he will leave his stats on numerous voicemails on my cell phone."

According a recent post on the Nets' Twitter page, opposing teams only have a 70.3 foul shot percentage in Brooklyn – about eight points lower, on average, than across the rest of the league. Eagle says, "Some opposing players, most notably LeBron James, have lodged complaints, but the Nets consistently stand by their man."

Not that Mr. Whammy wishes ill on opposing players. "I tell every player, I wish you good luck, success, and may you miss your foul shots — right to their faces."

When Jason Kidd was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, he invited the Reznicks as guests. And recently Kevin Durant, the superstar Nets forward, greeted people near the couple "and when he finishes, he kisses Judy on the cheek," Reznick says. "And she hasn't bathed that side of her face in a month and a half already! And he shakes hands with me. I thought I'd drop dead right then and there."

Actually — everybody loves Mr. Whammy. Before the game, ushers, vendors, and security guards give him fist bumps. Every time there's a break in the action, fans walk up to him and Mrs. Whammy to take selfies.

"We have such love from the fans," Reznick says. "They love us as much as we love them, and we're blessed."

Oh...and the Nets crushed the Spurs that night, 139-103. Mr. Whammy was on his game.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Jeff Lunden is a freelance arts reporter and producer whose stories have been heard on NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Weekend Edition, as well as on other public radio programs.