Brooklyn Nets fans welcome Brook Lopez in return to Barclays Center
Franchise's all-time scorer visits Brooklyn as a Laker for first time
Brook Lopez played his 160th regular season game at Barclays Center on Friday night.
It was the kind of evening that you could file into the old, "it's the same, but different" folder.
The 7-footer scored 19 points on 8-of-13 shooting, muscling his way into the lane for baskets, stepping out to knock down 3-of-5 3-pointers, and even blocking three shots. It all looked very familiar.
But before he did all that, he had to find the locker room.
"It was such a conscious effort walking from the bus to the locker room," said Lopez before the game. "I automatically just kept walking down towards the home locker room, so I had to keep telling myself with every step to go the right way. Even though I was in the right hallway, I wasn't exactly sure I was going to the visitors' locker room. It was weird walking around in the bowels down here and not knowing really where I was going."
This was Lopez the Laker, back in Brooklyn for the first time as an opponent.
"It was exciting," said Lopez after the Lakers' 102-99 win over the Nets. "It was a little weird. But I think once I got settled it was like being back home on that court. Most importantly, it was a great to get a win. I thought the guys were all fantastic, we had a great energy about us. It was cool coming back, seeing the fans. I appreciate them so much. It was great to see that and so many people, so many teammates."
After nine seasons with the Nets, Lopez departed last summer as the franchise's all-time leading scorer with 10,444 points. He also ranks No. 1 in Nets history with 972 blocks, setting both marks during his ninth and final season with the team in 2016-17. Those nine seasons were more than any player in franchise history.
Before the game, Lopez was introduced last among the Laker starters, drawing a sustained round of applause.
"It was great," said Lopez. "It was such an awesome moment. That's the kind of stuff you dream about as a kid. To see that kind of support from both Laker and Nets fans, it's really awe-inspiring. It's such a fantastic moment. I'd like to thank them. I can't thank them enough for their continued support."
There was one more moment to come, with a tribute video that played on the Barclays Center scoreboard between the first and second quarters. Tipping off with Lopez's selection by the Nets at the 2008 NBA Draft - 10th overall in the first round - it rolled through career highlights like his inclusion on the NBA All-Rookie Team for the 2008-09 season, his selection for the 2013 All-Star Game, and his franchise records.
"It was fantastic," said Lopez, who appreciated the inclusion of a shot of him dunking over twin brother Robin. "So great to see, especially some of those rookie year, second-year picture and videos. I couldn't believe it had been that long. It doesn't feel like it's been that long at all."