Back in the glory days of the Dodgers, players like Duke Snider, Jackie Robinson and Carl Erskine lived in Brooklyn neighborhoods like Bay Ridge, their neighbors much like themselves, young with big families and nice incomes.
When the Nets moved to Brooklyn, the hope was that the Nets players would follow, become residents of the boroughs. But until the HSS Training Center opened, there was little to no incentive. There were plenty of housing opportunities —more moderately priced opportunities— near the East Rutherford practice facility. Only one Nets player, Thaddeus Young, brought into Brooklyn before last February’s opening of HSS in February.
Now, as Scott Cacciola reports, most of the Nets players live and work in Brooklyn. Not in the clapboard houses of Bay Ridge but in the high rise towers in places like downtown, Prospect Heights and Williamsburg.
Cacciola’s piece is accompanied by an image of Luis Scola, climbing the stairs of what looks like the 36th Street subway station, a few blocks from the new training center.
In fact, the Times reporter notes that 12 of the 15 players with guaranteed contracts are now “bona fide residents” of Brooklyn. Players like Scola, Jeremy Lin, Brook Lopez, Chris McCullough, Bojan Bogdanovic, Joe Harris, and Coney Island native Isaiah Whitehead who’s moved closer to the training facility and Barclays Center.
“The view is crazy,” said Isaiah Whitehead, talking about his apartment overlooking downtown Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan.
Of course, so are the rents. Brooklyn was recently named the most expensive “city” for housing in the United States.
“I knew it was going to be expensive,” Booker said, “but I didn’t know it was going to be that expensive.”
One of those who doesn’t live in Brooklyn is Sean Kilpatrick, who’s still living in White Plains, were he grew up. If he needs to stay overnight, he says Lin, who knows something about couch living, has offered him a guest room.
Kilpatrick noted, “It’s nice to have guys like that on your team.”
And yes, some of them use the subway, like Scola. Harris says he uses a combination of mass transit and Uber. From the 36th street and Fourth Avenue station, it’s about a 10 minute walk to HSS at 39th and First. If you’re lazy, there’s a bus stop and free transfer at 39th Street and Fourth.
It isn’t just the commute that drove the players to move to Brooklyn. Their head coach, Kenny Atkinson, bought into Brooklyn early and encouraged his players to do the same.
"During the [job] interview, I was asked, where you going to live? I said, If I'm going to coach in Brooklyn, I'm going to live in Brooklyn,” he told Kevin Arnovitz of True Hoop last month “I've really encouraged our staff, our players to do the same. I'm honestly blown away by Brooklyn...”