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Going green: Nets give back with trees for threes

Homegrown: Nets standout K.J. McDaniels helped the team with its Trees for Threes program on May 15, handing out the arbors in front of Barclays Center.
Community News Group / Laura Amato

There are more trees growing in Brooklyn — literally.

The Nets hosted the team’s fifth annual tree giveaway in front of Barclays Center on May 15, part of the “Trees for Threes” Program, a partnership with the squad, PwC US, and the New York Restoration Project.

The initiative drew a handful of pre-registered prospective planters, but, for the most part, the event was a chance for passersby to pick up a tree and add a little green to their hometown.

“My first reaction was just thinking, ‘more threes means more trees,’ ” said Nets standout K.J. McDaniels. “Just to be out here and giving back to the community anyway is always big, but this is really cool.”

McDaniels was the first to admit he was a bit surprised by the initiative; it’s not the usual kind of community giveback a pro team would stage. It didn’t take long, however, for him to realize that less-than-usual description was exactly what made Trees for Threes so important.

“I thought New York, coming from Alabama, was going to be all concrete all the time,” he said. “You don’t see many trees or much grass [here], so the fact that they’re trying to give back with that is great.”

The Nets players have done their best to consistently work with the community since arriving in Brooklyn and the partnership with PwC and New York Restoration Project was a no-brainer for all three parties. In fact, as soon as PwC approached the franchise five years ago, the Nets were quick to agree.

“They loved it. It just makes sense and on a day like today when we’re outdoors, handing out trees, you can see the enthusiasm from the community,” said PwC partner Mitch Roschelle. “It’s exactly why we wanted to do this. There are literally people walking by and getting trees to go plant.”

The Nets have helped distribute more than 1,600 trees across the borough in the past five years, with fans planting them in community gardens, schoolyards and private yards. This latest event handed out 400 trees to area fans.

But Roschelle has one memory in particular that has stuck with him since the start of the initiative, and it happened in the first year of the program, in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

“We were out on Neptune Avenue in Coney Island and I remember standing there with [former Nets star] Albert King and that street was under water,” he said. “It was like six blocks in from the ocean, all under water, and we were putting trees back into the community. To me, that meant something and that’s why we’re continuing to do this.”

It’s not the most conventional give-back, but, as far as the Nets are concerned, the Trees for Threes program is a way to affect the community in a lasting way and, maybe, add some literal and metaphorical roots to the area. And, for the team’s young players, it’s even more incentive to start hitting a few more three-pointers.

“I don’t really know much about trees, but I just know the more threes we make, the more trees they grow,” McDaniels said. “And that’s an honor. There’s more reason behind our game now and it’s even more points for us, so that’s good.”

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