A basketball team grows in Brooklyn
by Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY Sports
NEW YORK – Basketball belongs in Brooklyn.
It’s a hoops-rich borough – from NBA legends to playground legends – and the moment has arrived. Finally.
It’s not just been 55 years in the making – since 1957 when the Brooklyn Dodgers left for Los Angeles leaving Brooklyn without a major pro team sports franchise until now.
It’s not just been almost 10 years in the making – getting the Nets from New Jersey to Brooklyn amid strong opposition to the construction of Barclays Center and surrounding development.
But it’s also been the past few days, waiting for this moment because the NBA – at the recommendation of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg – postponed Thursday’s originally scheduled Barclays Center opener between the Nets and New York Knicks in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and its devastating impact.
The moment has arrived, even if it’s Toronto Raptors-Brooklyn Nets, a far less glamorous matchup. Instead of TNT on Thursday, it’s on NBA TV Saturday.
Regardless, the Nets have a home in Brooklyn.
“It feels great,” Nets coach Avery Johnson said. “It’s something we’ve worked and built toward for a while now. It’s just great to be in the building. It’s great to see our guys getting ready for the game. … We want to represent properly a lot of new fans. It’s a great responsibility, but it’s one we’re all excited about.”
The Nets were tired of waiting to play – the last team in the NBA to open the season – but Johnson understood the tragedy and devastation in New York and the region.
“There are people who have had their homes destroyed and are in worse shape than we are playing a basketball game tonight,” Johnson said.
Said Nets owner and Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov: “I wanted to say on behalf of myself and many, many Russians have been watching what is going on here the last few days, and we really wish all the people affected by storm a lot of strength and we hope everything gets back to normal very, very soon.
“You are in our thoughts, and to those who made it out to … [For more on A basketball team grows in Brooklyn, click here.]