Brooklyn’s biggest basketball fans headed to Brooklyn Bridge Park this weekend to watch the pros practice, as Kevin Durant and the rest of the Brooklyn Nets hosted ‘Practice in the Park’ for all to see.
The team from Barclays Center held court on Pier 2, which drew dozens of Brooklynites to observe Nets in the fourth installment of the ongoing tradition.
For a few hours, the fans witnessed the team’s preparation for the upcoming NBA season, which begins next week.
The attendance started to grow in numbers around 12:30 pm, while the Nets Academy hosted a youth clinic to start the event and music from Brooklyn natives, Jay Z and Biggie Smalls blasted through the speakers amid the beautiful backdrop of the Manhattan skyline.
The Nets’ PA announcer, Olivier Sedra, served as the master of ceremonies for the event, and the Brooklynettes Dance Team, Team Hype, and the Brooklyn Nets Beat Drumline all shared performances with the audience.
Then, the main event took hold, as the 2021 Brooklyn Nets were introduced to a roaring crowd, and the team took the court.
The former New Jersey Nets organization moved to Brooklyn back in 2012 to coincide with the creation of Barclays Center, and it quickly became a destination for NBA stars.
The 2019 season saw the Nets acquire future Hall of Famers Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in free agency, and later traded for James Harden — making the team among the best in the league. This was solidified by players such as Blake Griffin, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Joe Harris — adding depth and experience to the squad.
The Nets also appointed Hall of Fame point guard Steve Nash to be their head coach before last year’s season.
Despite losing to the Milwaukee Bucks in the second round of the NBA playoffs last year, the Nets enter this season as title favorites, and are on top of the league’s power rankings — although not without turmoil this offseason.
Irving, their floor-general point guard, has not received the vaccine for COVID-19, making him ineligible to enter indoor public spaces due to New York City’s mandates — which precludes him from playing in 41 home games, and two away games across the river at Madison Square Garden.
As a result, the team has decided that Irving won’t practice or play in any games until he is vaccinated, or mandates change.
Still, the team looks to be among the best in the NBA regardless.
The entire squad and coaching staff were present at Saturday’s event, with newly-signed point guard, Patty Mills, describing the energy at the practice as “unreal.” Mills also said that “it is a good experience to be out and amongst the community, especially with everything that has happened with COVID. To have everybody come out in this atmosphere is really exciting and I’m happy to be here”.
The Nets preseason continues leading up to their first regular season game against the NBA Champions, Milwaukee Bucks on Oct. 19. The Nets’ home opener is scheduled for Oct. 24, against the Charlotte Hornets, at 4 pm in the Barclay’s Center.