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Brooklyn Nets Partner With adidas to Grow Basketball Academy

Global sports and lifestyle brand to be preferred merchandise and equipment provider for youth basketball program

Fueled by the support of the Brooklyn Nets, the commitment of a dedicated team of clinicians and coaches, and the passion of the kids that take to the court at its camps and clinics, the Brooklyn Nets Basketball Academy has been steadily growing since its launch five years ago.

The Academy was founded in 2016 and since then it has welcomed more than 30,000 kids to over 450 events while working with upwards of 225 community partners, ultimately reaching 60,000 people.

Julia Smith, who has three decades of coaching experience, has been a Head Clinician with the Academy for the last three years.

“They get really pumped,” said Smith of the kids that participate throughout the year. “It’s always pleasing to me. To get a kid that doesn’t play basketball and doesn’t get discouraged and didn’t give up, 100 percent those are the things that make our day.”

As the Nets continue the 2021-22 NBA season, the Academy is getting a new teammate that will elevate the franchise’s youth basketball program to a new level. The Nets and adidas have formed a multi-year partnership that will be centered around connecting with the youth community through basketball. The newly named Brooklyn Nets Basketball Academy presented by adidas will have the support of a global sports and lifestyle brand to grow the game on a grassroots level throughout Brooklyn and beyond.

adidas will become the preferred merchandise and equipment provider for all of the Academy’s programs. Select James Harden adidas apparel will also be available for Nets fans to purchase in the team store, Brooklyn Fanatics, at Barclays Center. Additionally, adidas will create customized digital content featuring Harden and his future adidas Basketball footwear.

“We are thrilled to partner with adidas and advance our shared commitment to growing grassroots basketball through the Brooklyn Nets Basketball Academy,” said John Abbamondi, CEO of BSE Global, parent company of the Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center. “The Academy teaches children many important life lessons and yesterday’s clinic with James Harden was the beginning of our work with adidas to extend our community impact.”

“We are excited for this multi-year partnership with the Brooklyn Nets. Our relationship with James Harden and our presence with the Brooklyn Nets Basketball Academy will create a lasting impact with the youth throughout the Tri-State Area,” said Aneesh Ahuja, NBA Partnerships Lead at adidas Basketball.

Rickey Rivers is the founder and president of FunSport, a Brooklyn-based youth basketball organization that is home to thousands of young players and regularly sends them to participate in Academy programming.

“I love what the Brooklyn Nets Basketball Academy is doing with the community and having touchpoints with them through the game of basketball,” said Rivers. “You get to align yourself with the Brooklyn Nets, a global organization that the kids get to align themselves with. When they wear those shirts and they’re participating in the Nets Academy, they feel like they’re stars. They’re connected with them that way. ‘Working on my jump shot like the pros.’ “

The Academy connects with the community through a range of events. There are one-day community clinics focusing on fundamental instruction and week-long summer camps with more in-depth skill work. The annual Skills Challenge in partnership with the league’s Jr. NBA program lets kids put what they’ve learned to the test.

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In the annual Coaches Clinic, Brooklyn Nets coaches from the organization’s player development and performance teams connect with youth coaches throughout the region for an in-depth look at the latest coaching techniques and development and training strategies. Educational Forums allow kids to discuss diversity and inclusion and the relationships between players, referees, coaches, and parents.

Head Clinician Dell Bethea has been coaching youth basketball since his own high school days in New Jersey and has been working with the Nets for more than a decade.

“When you come to a Brooklyn Nets camp, you’re going to leave tired. You’re not going to go home and give mom or dad any trouble,” said Bethea. “We definitely take pride in making sure you’re coming here and leaving better than you came.”

When the COVID-19 pandemic caused the Nets to put their camps and clinics on hold, the organization ultimately took their program virtual. Throughout the year, Bethea, Smith and their team of clinicians and coaches hosted workouts by videoconference, connecting with kids to show them how they could continue improving their game in any space, and expanding the reach of the Academy.

“I love when the camera comes on to put on a show for the kids, to really be intense with it and show the kids the drills online,” said Bethea. “Virtual really brought out a lot. Sometimes we had kids from Kansas online, kids from the UK online. We were getting out to everybody and everybody got to see what we do. It was a great environment all the way around.”

Over this past summer, the Academy began to welcome the kids back into the gyms and playgrounds for in-person instruction. Bethea is looking forward to continuing the work as the Academy embarks on a new era with the support of adidas.

“We want the kids to go home feeling like superstars after spending the day with us,” said Bethea.

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