The King was in town on the same night Prince William and Princess Kate made their grand appearance at Barclays Center and mingled with NBA commissioner Adam Silver.
This as hundreds gathered outside to protest the lack of an indictment in the Eric Garner case. Deron Williams, Kevin Garnett, Jarrett Jack and Alan Anderson warmed up in black T-shirts with "I Can't Breathe'' emblazoned in white, shirts that were hand-delivered by Jay Z himself. Jack also had his own batch of T-shirts and gave one each to LeBron James and Kyrie Irving so they could show their support before tipoff.
Jay Z was in his customary seat next to the Nets' bench with Beyonce, and Brooklyn's first couple soaked up the atmosphere. Their stroll to the other side of the court early in the fourth quarter to chat with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge nearly sent aftershocks throughout the place.
On this unique night, the shorthanded Nets were no match for the Cavaliers.
"It felt like the Finals, to be honest,'' Kevin Garnett said after Cleveland ran away in the second half and handed the Nets a 110-88 loss Monday night. "A lot of energy in the building, a lot of press, a lot of people, a lot of things going on. It's a basketball game, but it's good to be able to come in here and divert some people's attention from what's going on in the reality of the world.
"It's great to have the Prince & Co. It was just a good night, man.''
Minus two of their Big Three with Joe Johnson (stomach virus) unavailable and Brook Lopez sidelined for the week with a strained back, the Nets (8-11) were powerless to stop the Cavaliers' second-half surge in front of a sellout crowd.
Cleveland ended the third quarter on a 24-6 run, outscoring the Nets 35-18 overall to turn an even game into an 85-67 laugher.
James (18 points, seven assists, four rebounds, three steals) ignited the Cavs (12-7) with nine points, five assists and two steals in the quarter. He had two gorgeous alley-oop passes, almost as if he were toying with the undermanned Nets, and was extremely fired up.
"He was making a lot of great plays, not only for himself but for his teammates,'' said Williams, who had 13 points and 11 assists but shot only 3-for-14. "He was putting a lot of pressure on our defense, and when he's attacking like that, he's going to draw two or three guys.''
Garnett had 14 points to lead the Nets. Mirza Teletovic, starting at power forward with Lopez out, had 11 points but got banged up in the second half, suffering a hip pointer and a facial laceration that needed four stitches.
Reserve Dion Waiters led Cleveland with 26 points, but it was the guy considered the NBA's version of royalty who ruled this night.
"It was the start of the third quarter when LeBron decided to come out and turn on his motor,'' Nets coach Lionel Hollins said. "He put it in a different gear and we couldn't stop him.''