Nets stars help build new playground, meet with fans in Canarsie

Nets stars help build new playground, meet with fans in Canarsie
Community News Group / Laura Amato

They’re really trying to build up the fan base.

Nets forward Trevor Booker and center Justin Hamilton stepped away from the court on Sept. 11 to join more than 200 volunteers in building a brand-new playground — complete with a customized basketball section — at Canarsie Ascend Charter School. It was a step out of both players’ comfort zones — they do not often build things — but a challenge they embraced, particularly after seeing smiles on kids’ faces when they arrived, Booker said.

To build and give them something to put a smile on their face is fantastic,” he said. “They can come out here and do things they haven’t done before. And providing a brand-new experience for them is always great.”

The Nets front office approached Hamilton and Booker last week about the event, and the two — who signed with Brooklyn during the offseason — were eager to get out into the community. After all, if the fans are willing to support them, the players are more than willing to support the fans — and even to pick up a few power tools.

I thought it was just a great thing to help come support,” Hamilton said. “I’m just really happy to be here and happy to help any way I can. I came from a family that built a lot of stuff regularly, so I can do that.”

The Nets boast a handful of new players this year, and both Hamilton and Booker hope that the playground and projects like it will help fans put faces to their names. As far as they’re concerned, they’re not just players, they’re Brooklynites — and they want to do right by Kings County.

“I’ve never really been in Brooklyn, so just being a fresh player here, it’s just nice to get out and meet more people and maybe help out somebody become a new fan,” said Hamilton, who played in Spain last year. “For us, it’s just great to get as much support as we can, because when the stadium’s packed with fans that really believe in us, it really makes us play better.”

Booker and Hamilton also met with a group of kids inside the school — all of whom were anxious to get outside and play.

The reaction from the kids — some of whom lined up for high-fives with the pair and asked the players, ‘Why are you so tall?’ — was more than enough to make it all worthwhile for Hamilton and Booker.

“It means a lot, really,” Booker said. “Any time I’m able to come out to something like this and make people happy, you know, I’m here.”

The Nets are just a few weeks away from training camp — which gets underway in Brooklyn later this month — and both Hamilton and Booker are enjoying the calm before the on-court storm.

They’re excited for what’s to come this season, but events like this — and the chance to meet the fans who will cheer for them from opening tipoff — are just as important as preseason workouts.

“Right now, it’s just about building habits,” Hamilton said. “It’s about bringing in a winning culture, and we’re all working really hard to do that. We’re just getting ready for the start of the season.”