Cory Wright, the Nets in-house beat writer, flew with the team early this month on its three-game, five-day, 2,800 mile road trip. He wanted a sense of what it was like the 15 players, coaches and staff.
What he found, despite the three losses, was a team that was still bonding but very together. Some of them even like road games better than home games.
“For me I’ve always liked road games more than home games because of that,” Caris LeVert said. “I thrive being an underdog, when people are betting against you. I’ve always liked that.”
Wright says Jeremy Lin and Sean Kilpatrick had similar feelings. More than anyone else on the plane rides, those with D-League experience can appreciate NBA amenities.
Kilpatrick still remembers long bus trips and stopping at Wawa to get snacks. Life is a little different eating salmon at cruising altitude.
“You don’t have to worry about being on a bus for 12 hours now,” Kilpatrick said.
Here, it’s charter aircraft with oversized, NBA player-sized accommodations with menus chosen by team nutritionists. The only buses they ride are between the airport and hotel.
There are still workouts, practices, shootarounds and team meetings and meet-and-greets with fans. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson spoke with friends and family after the Philly game, his near Chester, PA, home. He had 25 minutes to talk and have pictures taken with 80 people.
In Toronto, fans yelled greetings to Anthony Bennett, a local, and Luis Scola, who played with the Raptors last year.
Of course, like anyone else on a plane, they are subject to delays. The three-game trip ended with a touchdown at Newark at 12:30 a.m. That means hitting the sack at 2 a.m. if not later.
Still, the closeness, the absence of distractions remains a positive. It also helps that the Nets averaged age is 25!
One thing not explored: why they’ve only won one game on the road.