Randy Foye knows what his role is on the Brooklyn Nets.
Foye is a 10-year NBA vet, and on a team as young as the Nets, his expertise – along with his career 10.8 ppg and .369 3-point percentage – is invaluable.
“One of the things I’m looking to bring is leadership,” said Foye, who’s played for Minnesota, Washington, the Clippers, Utah, Denver and Oklahoma City. “Just try to grab guys after workouts and say, ‘hey let’s shoot some more,’ or do ball-handling drills, or play today. Or if we’re doing sprints or whatever we’re doing and we’re dead tired, let’s do one more or two more. More than anything, I’m trying to be a leader and lead by example.”
Foye has 683 games under his belt. That’s more than Anthony Bennett, Bojan Bogdanovic, Justin Hamilton, Joe Harris, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Sean Kilpatrick and Chris McCullough combined – with more than 200 games to spare.
“Randy is a proven veteran in this league,” head coach Kenny Atkinson said at the Nets’ introductory press conference in July. “Me and [general manager] Sean [Marks] were thrilled when we had the chance to get him. He can play both positions – the 2 and the 1 – great character fit, great system fit for our team.”
Foye’s been staying late in gyms his whole life, but said he got a crash course in leadership from former Net Kevin Garnett back when he was breaking into the league in Minnesota.
“When I first came into the league, Kevin Garnett was my vet,” Foye said. “He was on me, but everything he told me, he practiced what he preached. He got on the floor, dove on the floor and a lot of the things that he did he led by example. He’d say something to me about it and I’d do it 10 times faster or run 10 times harder because I saw him do it before me. That’s something that stuck with me since day one. That’s something I’m trying to pass on to these young guys here.”
So when Foye arrived at HSS Training Center a few weeks ago, you’d imagine it was a pleasant surprise to see so many of the Nets’ younger players already working hard in the gym.
“Usually in the summertime, it’s not mandatory, so a guy can make up any type of excuse and be like, ‘oh I have to go here, oh I have to go there’ [and not work],” Foye said. “But to see that many guys in for Monday-Friday, Monday-Saturday whatever it is, you know that they want to get better.”
Foye’s future was in his hands this summer. He was in talks with other teams during free agency, but chose to come to Brooklyn, with familiarity playing a big role.
“Brooklyn made the most sense,” Foye said. “I could have gone to other places, but talking to Sean and talking to Kenny and talking to Chris [Fleming] – who coached me – talking to Sebastien [Poirier], talking to all of these different people, it made sense. You go somewhere else, you don’t know anybody, but if you go here you know three or four people. It just made more sense.”
There’s familiarity with the surroundings as well. Foye’s a local guy, having grown up in Newark, NJ. He’s back in Jersey now, so he’s closer to friends, family and his foundation, which is dedicated to helping kids in Newark through school programs, clothing and food donations.
“It’s good for me to be closer to the kids, for the kids to be able to see me play,” Foye said. “Visiting schools in Newark and throughout the Tri-State Area doing things with my foundation. It’s extremely important when I’m back here during the season. During the season, it’s so long, I’m basically gone for 10 months, so for me to be around that’s huge.”
Foye knows how important having positive role models can be, especially given his own experiences, having lost both of his parents at a young age. He wants to be that role model for kids in Newark – part of the reason he started his foundation – and being closer to home makes that a lot easier.
“I came up in a tough neighborhood in Newark and I just wanted to give back,” Foye said. “I never saw an NBA person, or a football player or a baseball player come to a school that I grew up in so I said hey, let me do something special. That’s how everything started to evolve.”
Foye likes the Nets’ setup on and off the court. HSS Training Center and Barclays Center weren’t the definitive reasons he signed, but the amenities certainly left an impression. And for a guy who’s played for six other teams, he’s seen his fair share of setups.
“Once we came here, I was like, this place is unbelievable,” he said of the HSS Training Center.
He liked the setup of the locker room and training room and has been impressed by the attentiveness of the training staff – who have also drawn good reviews from Brook Lopez.
“When training staffs are successful, it’s when they are hands-on, on you every single day, that’s how you get the most out of a player,” he said. “You can’t be laid back and just let the player do whatever he wants, cause he doesn’t understand his body like the trainers do. These guys here are on you in a good way; ‘you gotta do this, you gotta foam roll, stretch, lift …’ and they are on you, they’re on you, they’re on you. They’re looking out for you.”
Then there’s the Sean-factor. Marks’ roots with the San Antonio Spurs seem to hold some cache with Foye.
“I already knew the coaches would be great just from the system, the Spurs system,” Foye said. “The work that you get in is quick, fast and everything is precise and done professionally.”
“We were talking and it was something that felt right so I jumped on board and I’m ready to try and help this team do something special.”