Two-and-a-half years ago, the eighth floor of 168 39th Street in Brooklyn was just an abandoned warehouse.
So when the Brooklyn Nets unveiled the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) Training Center on Wednesday, Irina Pavlova stopped to take stock.
"It's times like these when you reach a certain pinnacle and can look back and take satisfaction in how far you've come and how you've arrived here," said Pavlova, President of Onexim Sports and Entertainment, the company that oversaw the develop of the facility.
"When we first came here it was just an abandoned warehouse," she said against the backdrop of a pristine basketball court. "It definitely took a lot of vision, faith and commitment to turn it into the beautiful facility that you see here today."
And the Nets' new practice facility and team headquarters is beautiful. The gym has two full-sized basketball courts, lined on either side by a wall of 16-foot windows, offering up a panorama of Brooklyn, lower Manhattan and New Jersey. That's just the centerpiece.
The 3,000-square-foot players' lounge has a dedicated kitchen, barbershop, NBA arcade games and custom-made couches to accommodate the height of the Nets. There are mounted TVs in the players' lounge, interactive TVs in the locker room, two whirlpools in the hydro room and all the latest recovery/treatment technology in the training areas.
The weight room and lounge also come with the same breathtaking view from the court.
"We've given the players a state-of-the-art training facility that is both comfortable and functional," Nets Owner Mikhail Prokhorov said.
Prokhorov was on hand for the opening, alongside a who's who of Nets and New York City elite. Nets CEO Brett Yormark, Mayor Bill de Blasio and NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum were on hand, as was HSS CEO Louis Shapiro. They all raved about the new building, as well as what it means for the surrounding area.
"We have always wanted to play a very important, positive role for the community," Prokhorov said. "[HSS Training Center] will be used for public services, for business networking and of course sports. It has and will continue to provide jobs, training, internships and of course, promote local businesses."
Mayor de Blasio, a long-time Brooklyn resident, thanked the Nets owner for his investment in Brooklyn and for believing in the borough.
"This facility is absolutely beautiful," Mayor de Blasio said. "This is an example of the cutting edge, doing things a different way, rooting the team and the players in the community. It deepens the identity in Brooklyn, the connection to Brooklyn."
Yormark said the Nets practice facility will be the envy of the NBA and the words "world class" were used by nearly every speaker at Wednesday's event. But don't take their words for it, ask the players.
"I'm so excited to be here today," Brook Lopez said. "I want to thank Mikhail Prokhorov, [Onexim CEO] Dimitry Razumov, Irina and Brett for delivering the best training center in the NBA. What player wouldn't want to call HSS Training Center his home?"
After two-and-a-half years, that's exactly what the loft at 168 39th Street has become for the Nets.