Photo Crediot: Brendan Awerbuch

Grounded by Foot Surgery, Lopez Now Flying High in Southampton

By Lenn Robbins | @lennrobbins

SOUTHAMPTON – Even for Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez, who might be the least conventional center in the NBA, Friday was an unconventional day.

It started at 5:30 a.m., when he arrived at the Nets’ practice facility in East Rutherford some two hours early for his helicopter ride to the Hamptons for the first-ever Brooklyn Nets Hamptons Basketball Camp powered by DRIBBL.

Lopez, a creative writing major at Stanford who is currently writing his own comic books when he’s not reading enough books to personally drive up Amazon’s sales, used the 90 minutes to work out.

Then Lopez and Nets’ coach Lionel Hollins boarded a helicopter for their first-ever chopper ride.

“We kind of looked at each other as we got in the helicopter," quipped Lopez. “We were a little bewildered."

This is how many celebrities get to and from the Hamptons, but Lopez has never been one to cling to celebrity. He was most comfortable a few hours later on terra firma, practicing and playing with some 160 campers.

Lopez, 26, was the tallest and possibly giddiest camp counselor.

“I think it is part of my makeup," Lopez told “I’ve always been a big kid – literally – so getting on the floor and playing with them, whether getting up and down, or playing in a game or doing drills, that’s no problem for me."

Neither is the right foot, which has plagued him for several seasons. Lopez re-broke the fifth metatarsal bone in his right foot last December, ending his season.

He underwent surgery in January to repair the break and had a second procedure, a first metatarsal osteotomy, which will redistribute the weight Lopez places on the outside of his foot.

“It’s better every day,’’ Lopez said. “I feel great. It’s good just to be back out on the court, running up and down.

“I feel I can come out and be the best player I’ve ever been – no question. I get the feeling from working out every day, I’m well on my way to doing it."

Lopez, who is entering his seventh season, was well on the way to establishing himself as one of the elite centers in the NBA. He was averaging 20.7 points and six rebounds when he suffered the injury.

It was especially disappointing for Lopez, who has had to battle injury and the inaccurate perception that a man with an artistic yearning who is a little kid at heart can be driven to excel as a pro athlete.

Lopez has been clear that he intends to play the bulk of 2014-15 season with no restriction on minutes. As soon as he was allowed out of bed, the 7-0, 275-pound Lopez, who didn’t gain a pound during his recovery, was lifting weights and doing abdominal work.

“I think it’s gotten to the point now where a lot of professional [players] and coaches know my dedication to the game and my craft,’’ Lopez said. “But on the outside, it definitely may seem as though all those other interests might take away from my love of the game or what I’m trying to get out of playing basketball.

“My confidence is sky high right now. I feel like I can do everything. Obviously we want to take our time because the season is still far away, sort of ramp it up, but it feels great being out on the floor and I don’t feel limited at all."

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