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For Kenny Atkinson, the time is now

At 7:30 on Thursday, Kenny Atkinson’s long-time dream, coaching a team in the NBA, finally becomes a reality. After player development stints in Houston, New York and Atlanta, he’ll be the guy on the bench with the clipboard, plotting x’s and o’s.

Everyone from his players to his former mentors thinks he’s ready.

“Coach Kenny is tough,” said Greivis Vasquez, who’s had about half a dozen NBA coaches, told Newsday. “It’s grit and grind . . . He holds us accountable, he lets us know, and that’s important, because he doesn’t have a preference for anybody. He treats everybody equally . . . ”

That “Brooklyn Grit,” you might call it, rubs off on players, said Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who’s working under his third head coach since being drafted last year.

“I think the strategy and the direction that we’re going, it’s really good,” Hollis-Jefferson said. “I’m really proud of our guys. They’re working hard, putting a lot of effort in.”

In Houston, Mike D’Antoni, who was his boss in New York, told Marc Berman that Atkinson is ready.

“It’s great,’’ D’Antoni said. “He deserves it. He worked hard and knows his job, and I think he’ll do a terrific job if you guys leave him alone.’’

D’Antoni also said he’s looking forward to seeing Atkinson and Jeremy Lin reunited in New York and recalled how Atkinson pushed him to play Lin.

“I love it,’’ D’Antoni said of the Lin-Atkinson paring. “I think it’s a good opportunity. He was with Kenny anyway with the Linsanity thing. I know he’s excited. I texted him a couple times, said he’s excited to go. The assistant coaches [back then] were saying, ‘Hey this kid’s not bad, you got to try, got to try him.’ I said, ‘OK, OK, I’ll get to him.’ So they kept pushing.’’

As for Atkinson, he’s going to let his players respond to all the punditry, all the doom-and-gloom predictions.

“I don’t think we’re concerned with that,” Atkinson said. “We’re going to have fun, we’re going to compete very hard.”

He also discussed a bit of his coaching philosophy.

“You have to be up-front and honest with players, and if you’re just picking on a small group of guys [that’s bad],’’ Atkinson said.

“Everybody is open to — not even criticism — [but to] get better. Get better opinions from the coaches. Our film sessions are get-better sessions. We’re not there to bring guys down.”