The NBA season doesn’t start until October 29, but you can already hear the ‘Brooo-klynnn’ chants. Helping to stoke the enthusiasm, the Brooklyn Nets held an open practice for fans, free of charge, at Barclay Center on Sunday, October 20.
For over 10 years, it’s become common practice for NBA teams to hold an open scrimmage or practice before the season begins. It’s a nice way to give fans a sneak peak at the team, especially if they can’t afford tickets to regular season games.
But this year’s practice displayed a bit more excitement. Nearly a whopping 10,000 fans showed up to the event, proof that fans are excited to catch a glimpse of the new squad and believe that their team has inched closer to an NBA title.
The Nets are expected to be one of the most compelling teams this upcoming season. The team possesses the highest payroll in the NBA, having acquired 15-time all star Kevin Garnett, 2008 NBA Finals MVP Paul Pierce, Andrei Kirilenko and Jason Terry.
They have also hired former Nets great and future hall of famer Jason Kidd as head coach, fresh off his retirement just months ago. Needless to say, there’s plenty of buzz.
“I can’t wait to see their chemistry, see them all play together. I predict around 53 wins,” said Nets fan Orin Block. “I’m looking forward to seeing KG (Kevin Garnett) the most.”
Another diehard fan agrees. “I’m looking forward to a championship if everything breaks right. I see as many as 60 wins, “said Ricky Rivera, whose favorite player is Deron Williams.
Inside the arena, the players were working out in their private court before the event took place. The topic of the day was the health of Williams, who sprained his ankle earlier this month. Despite the Nets saying it’s not an injury to worry about, Williams has yet to play a pre-season game and the ones that count are approaching.
Williams playfully dodged questions regarding the status of the ailing ankle, which was a problem for him last season as well. “I appreciate your concern for my health, I really do. Thank you,” Williams kept replying to the inquiries, though he finally gave some insight into the situation. “I’m doing half court work. I just haven’t done any contact right now,” he replied. “I feel good. I feel like I’m getting better everyday. I feel like I’m progressing. “
Will he be ready for the season opener? “That’s the plan,” Williams said.
After the warm ups, it was time to entertain the fans. Each trainer, coach and player was introduced to the crowd, accompanied by a Brooklynettes cheerleader. Then it was off to work.
Fans got to see how much work is put in to stay loose for an NBA game. After various stretching exercises, the Nets played against each other in a scrimmage game. Although they are teammates and they were just practicing, the intensity increased as the game progressed.
When the practice concluded, there was a Q and A session during which select fan questions were submitted via Twitter.
Garnett, who received one of the loudest ovations of the day, took the mic. “What’s up, Brooklyn? First off, it’s a pleasure to have Jason Kidd as anything in this organization. He’s our coach. He understands young guys. He understands the league. It’s more than a pleasure to have him as a coach.”
And who are the Nets looking forward to playing the most? “Obviously you want to go against the defending champs because we are trying to win a championship,” said rookie and former Duke Blue Devil Mason Plumlee.
The first home game for Brooklyn is Friday, November 1 against defending champion Miami Heat. Win or lose, this season will be a compelling one.