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Brooklyn Nets Embrace the Fans at ‘Practice in the Park’

Just days from the team’s season opener, thousands show up to see the players up close and snag some T shirts

By The Editors – October 8, 2018

Against a Manhattan skyline backdrop, Nets forward Rodions Kurucs takes a shot while guard-forward Allen Crabbe stands by and teammates sign autographs for fans (Photos by Steve Koepp)

Would you travel all the way from the Bronx to Brooklyn for a block party? Demetria Collins, Quandell Swanson and their nine-year-old son did this weekend, and they were not disappointed. “I think it’s a wonderful thing that they have this. It’s good for the children,” said Collins as they watched their son playing basketball with other kids on Pier 2 in Brooklyn Bridge Park.

The event, of course, had a lot more going on than the typical Brooklyn block party. It was “Practice in the Park,” the second-annual, free-admission, open-to-the-public event hosted by the Brooklyn Nets, starring the entire team and its dancers, acrobats, DJ, and team apparel. The event drew more than 4,000 fans, according to a Nets spokesperson.

While many fans might normally only see the stars from the high-altitude seats, here everyone was on ground level, creating a community vibe. “Playing in Brooklyn, being a New Yorker, I embrace it to the max. It’s great seeing you all out here,” head coach Kenny Atkinson told the crowd.

Unlike the intensity of a game atmosphere, the open practice was more relaxed, consisting of drills, light-hearted shooting games like Knockout, and warm-up exercises. “Stretching is serious. Especially at a young age, guys don’t take it seriously,” star point guard D’Angelo Russell earnestly told the crowd.

The team opens its regular season Oct. 17 against the Pistons in Detroit, with a home opener Oct. 19 vs. the Knicks and hopes for an ascendant season as the team rebuilds. “Big wins could be on the horizon in Brooklyn,” declared Sports Illustrated last month. Scenes from a day with the team:

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The morning started with a Nets Academy basketball clinic and mini-tournament

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A drumline helped get the crowd amped up

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Temporary bleachers were set up to accommodate fans on either side of two courts

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Who wants T shirts? asked the Brooklynettes. Just about everyone, of course

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Team Hype, the Nets troupe of break dancers, tumblers and dunkers, cut loose on the court

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After much anticipation, the entire team arrives and poses for photos before breaking into drills

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Nets guard Caris LeVert chats with reporters at courtside

The players line up for warm-up and stretching exercises

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Head coach Kenny Atkinson makes a demonstrative point with former Nets star Albert King

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DJay Jung (Jason Jung), the team’s official deejay, was on hand, looking for the perfect beat

Allen Crabbe gets plenty of arch on the ball in one of the team’s shooting games

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Ally Love, the team’s in-arena host, served as MC for the day’s event

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While it was officially an open practice, it was more like a day in the park for the team too

The kid-sized hoops had a stunning view of lower Manhattan

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Some of the most intense action was at the temporary hoops set up on the pier’s lawn

After the kids worked up a sweat, they could sample Game Face Wipes, a grooming product for the youth market created by Phil Williams of Pennsylvania. Said he: “We’re creating beauty for beasts”

And there were always a few more T shirts for the fans

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