Post-Sandy, Nets (Mostly) Make it to Practice

First off, I hope everyone's recovering from the storm. Our thoughts here at the Nets go out to those affected. While the team – save Tyshawn Taylor, stranded in shut-down Hoboken until recently – was able to travel to Barclays Center for a pracitce, joining the office staff and New York City in a gradual return to work, the other two members of our Web team, Demetris Sapp and Jim Richardi have been without power in New Jersey. Both are safe, but since I was the only person capable of updating the team and arena sites, we relied on Howard Beck of The New York Times and Tim Bontemps of the New York Post to play pool reporters today. Shoutouts to both of them for the assist.

The Nets' Wednesday practice marked their first since Sunday, and took place as the NBA and Mayor Bloomberg's office were finalizing their decision to postpone tomorrow's opener against the Knicks. The Nets will instead open Saturday at 7:30 p.m. against the Raptors. Though there seems to be a measure of disappointment in the delayed start , the overriding element was empathy.

"I think foremost is the fact that a lot of people have been affected," said Nets general manager Billy King. "We’re fortunate that our guys were able to get here and practice. We’re fortunate. Some of still don’t have power, and there are people that have lost lives, lost loved ones, lost their belongings.

"I think as an organization, as players, we’ve got to be sensitive and understand that it’s bigger than the game of basketball. What this storm has done to this region, as Gov. Christie said, it’s something that no one has really seen in their lifetime."

King continued on to say the organization was committed to providing whatever assistance they could, be it manpower or financial aid and that they, as citizens, would follow any directives issued by government officials. Right now, that means practicing at Barclays Center for the time being, as the team's practice facility in East Rutherford, N.J. suffered flooding-related damage. Several players living in New Jersey have been temporarily situated in New York hotels.

Backup center and Syracuse, N.Y. native Andray Blatche, who's waiting for power to return before heading back across the Hudson, said this was the worst weather situation he'd encountered. The 27-year-old, who lives by the water, said he witnessed boats floating down his normally dry block.

"We were in the kitchen, me and my homebody, and we were talking and I see a white thing just moving and we’re like, ‘That was the boat that was just there!'" Blatche said. "It was gone. The other two (stored with it) were still there, but then another hour goes by and the boats were just completely gone up the street."

Deron Williams said that basketball ranked low on the priority list for most people right now, and that most would have more important things to do than figure out how to get to the game, especially with spotty public transportation options as service is restored in sections. The point guard also expressed interest in opening the building with a buzz, which would have been tough to achieve if the sellout crowd couldn't reach their arena, let alone their seats.

Williams and his family have been without power, and he said driving in lower Manhattan has been a "free-for-all" since stoplights haven't been functioning. Though Williams acknowledged having to work back into practice mode after two days of mostly sitting around in the dark, coach Avery Johnson felt the players responded well during the day's efforts.

"It was a challenge, but we have a job to do," Johnson said. "Man, we empathize and sympathize with what’s going on, but we still have a job to do. As much as our hearts go out to others, we have to find a way to get it done.

"And right now, it’s even more important for us to do our jobs, because of the people that will show up in our building. Somebody is gonna show up Saturday. Somebody who has power is gonna watch us on TV, or listen to it on the radio, or – if they have Internet service – follow it on the Internet. And hopefully we can bring some joy to them."



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