Whitehead Shows What Brooklyn Grit is All About

Brooklyn Grit is the Nets team motto this year and Isaiah Whitehead embodied just that on Tuesday night at Barclays Center.

After taking a charge, the Nets’ point guard had his face stepped on by Minnesota’s Gorgui Dieng in the first quarter of Tuesday’s 119-110 win. He was forced out of the game to get checked out by the medical staff, but he was back in the game to start the second quarter – the way they do it on the boardwalk.

 “It’s the way I grew up, just being tough, just being a tough player and not letting things that you can overcome stop you from playing,” Whitehead said. “That’s just the way I grew where I’m from. That’s just what we do.”

The play occurred at 4:18 of the first quarter, with Dieng knocking Whitehead over on a drive to the basket. Dieng went up for the dunk and all 6’11, 240lbs. came down on the side of Whitehead’s face. Whitehead wasn’t totally sure what happened right away.

“I tried to take a charge, I tried to get up and the next thing I know I saw lights,” he said. “I got to the bench and Caris [LeVert] said I had a shoe mark on my face, so then I figured what happened.”

When Whitehead returned, it was like nothing had happened, dishing a team-high seven assists to go along with seven rebounds and six points. The rookie point guard didn’t flinch the rest of the game, standing his ground, taking a charge from 7’0, 244 lbs. Karl-Anthony Towns in the third quarter, drawing the offensive foul. He took another big hit from Zach LaVine in the fourth.

“I’m not sure how many charges he took tonight,” Atkinson said. “I know he was in a lot of scrums. That’s Coney Island toughness.”

Whitehead’s teammates got a boost when he came back out on the bench and then continued to lay it out there on the floor. The rookie’s heart set the tone for the Nets.

“No question,” said Brook Lopez, who had a team-high 26 points. “That’s the toughness we need and the definition of Brooklyn Grit. That’s homegrown and we need that from every player.”