The future may be distant, but it’s bright.
The Brooklyn Nets continue to rebuild the currently struggling franchise as the team formally introduced Kenny Atkinson as its new head coach.
Though the hire was made official weeks ago, Atkinson, who was assistant coach for the Atlanta Hawks, was busy as the team was in the playoffs. Once its season came to a close, Brooklyn welcomed him at a press conference at the HSS Training Center in Industry City on Monday, May 16.
Atkinson was introduced by the team’s new General Manager Sean Marks and was accompanied by plenty of family and friends.
The Long Island native expressed his excitement that his first NBA head coaching job would be in New York. “I asked myself, ‘Why am I so emotional during this press conference?’ Well I’m from here,” the 48-year-old said. “I used to listen to the Nets games on a little black transistor radio when I was six years old. With my family being here, it means more to me [to coach Brooklyn] than it would if I was to be a coach of another team in the NBA.”
It’s been a difficult road for the Nets to find stability in the vital position. Since moving to Brooklyn four seasons ago, the team has had five head coaches before the latest hire. Part of it was due to overspending on star players past their prime so the franchise could create buzz during the its first years in the borough.
The revolving door of coaches made Atkinson apprehensive at first. “It gives a pause because you look at the past. That’s why my relationship with Sean was important,” he said. “I had questions and I was more than satisfied with the answers. We’re going to build something sustainable for the long term so that excited me and convinced me.”
“For me, it was always how he was always able to communicate with those players that was so important,” said Marks. “He mentioned that caring is such an important part of player development and he’s one of the best of that.”
Several Nets were at the conference too, including forward Thaddeus Young, who is excited to play for the rookie head coach. “We know that he’s coming from a successful organization with successful programs and ball clubs. We just want him to bring his passion and energy that he brings to each and every team to us and we’re just going to feed off his energy,” he said.
Atkinson added that he’s all in on the borough. “I’m going to live in Brooklyn,” he announced. “I told Mr. Prokhorov if I’m going to coach in Brooklyn, I’m going to live here.”