It may be the offseason, but basketball was top-of-mind this week at Barclays Center for the inaugural Nets Basketball Camp presented by <img src="https://i.cdn.turner.com/drp/nba/nets/sites/default/files/mcdo.png" style="weight: 20px;".
Sixty boys and girls from Brooklyn came out to learn the fundamentals of the game from Nets’ staff and players including Sergey Karasev, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Chris McCullough.
“We’re out here at camp to have fun with the kids and enjoying ourselves,” said McCullough. “I love it. The kids are real funny and asking me a lot of questions I never heard before; ‘what size shoe do you wear? How tall are you? How long is my arm? Have I ever been dunked on?’ Stuff like that.”
McCullough was a favorite with the smallest Nets campers this week, who were following him around all morning. Not the worst way to pick up some basketball moves from the rookie.
Hollis-Jefferson joined the fun in the middle of the week and had a great experience playing with the local campers.
“Being here with the kids says a lot about the community,” the 20-year-old rookie said. “People want to see what kind of person you are; are you genuine? Do you really care? And for us, we really care.”
Hollis-Jefferson went on to talk about how important outreach to youth can be. “It’s about giving back to the kids. At the end of the day, they are our future,” he said. “Being here to show them that this is the way to do things and how to cheer for your teammates, it says a lot about who we are. We really mean it and it goes along way.”
Nets’ Senior Director of Community Relations, Jeff Scott knows how much of a memorable experience this sort of camp can be for the local community.
“For these kids, to be able to come out and spend some quality time with players they look up to is definitely an amazing opportunity. Our players actually enjoy being out here as well,” he said.
Karasev remembered a similar experience he had as a young basketball player growing up.
“I know when I was a kid, a big basketball star came to my school and I was so happy. I felt like I should work harder to be like him,” said the Nets guard-forward. “For these kids, it’s really important to see someone who plays in the NBA, so it’s really nice.”
And while it may be the experience of a lifetime for kids to be able to play alongside their favorite Nets players, it seems to go both ways.
“I’m a big community guy so I’m looking forward to doing more of this down the road,” McCullough said about his time at Barclays Center this week.
Hollis-Jefferson echoed that sentiment. “I went to local camps in my city, but it wasn’t like a Nets’ or Sixers’ camp. I feel like it’s really cool to get these kids in here to meet us. For me, to be able to participate in this is pretty big,” he said.