Nets Practice at Barclays Center for 1st Time
It wasn't their court -- the herringbone has yet to feel footsteps -- but it was certainly their arena. The Brooklyn Nets traveled to Prospect Heights on Sunday for their first practice at Barclays Center.
With JAY Z closing up shop after his opening run of eight concerts and the Harlem Globetrotters scheduled for a 5 p.m. start, the Brooklyn Hoops court -- used for all non-Nets basketball events -- was in place for practice. With two hoops to utilize, coach Avery Johnson ran the Nets through conditioning drills that focused on defense and spacing, though part of bringing the team in was to help them get familiar with the overall space.
"It's very important for us to get used to our home: locker rooms, showers, training room, coaches' offices," Johnson said. "Out here on the court, (it's) the sightlines here in the building -- we've got really good sightlines. We put a big emphasis on that. We want our shooters to feel comfortable shooting in our home building. It was a good little exercise coming over here."
Johnson and several players said they ran into little traffic getting to the arena, though they were dubious Sunday morning conditions would provide a useful comparison for gameday afternoons. Everyone was trying to get a feel for the various shooting backgrounds, and was intrigued by the lighting, which focused the attention on the court.
Though many players had been to the arena during construction for general tours and also the JAY Z shows, this provided one of the first opportunities to really explore the "basketball campus." Point guard Deron Williams was impressed by the size and comfort of the locker room and player lounge.
"I don't think there's an arena like it," Williams said. "They spared no expense, they thought about everything. I've been around everywhere. Usually with arenas, I don't go around and look at everything else. This is the one that I've had the chance to go tour and see everything it has to offer. This is great."
The one notable adjustment was a set of curtains covering the West-facing opening in the stands, which leads to the Geico Atrium. Johnson said they would work to ensure no afternoon sunlight snuck in and affected players during game action.
After practice concluded, the players quickly exited to allow the completion of setup for the evening event. But the Nets definitely began to get a sense of what Opening Night might entail.
"I think moreso than anything it's just being super excited to get in this arena and get some shots up," Johnson said. "(Mine) was falling pretty good today and I can't wait for at least the first preseason game to come so we can get in here and really get the fans in here and get them involved. You could see it in guys' eyes -- everyone was excited."