In the midst of their latest controversy --over whether or not Sean Marks received an offer to become the team's GM-- the Nets opened their nearly $50 million HSS Training Center, with the most modern amenities and a staggering view of the New York skyline.
"It’s state of the art; it’s everything that they said it was going to be," Wayne Ellington told beat writers Wednesday night before the Nets practiced here for the first time ever.
"It’s impressive," said Ellington, who has also played for the Timberwolves, Grizzlies, Cavaliers, Mavericks and Lakers. "I’ve been on a lot of teams around the league so far. This is unmatched. This is beautiful."
"This definitely is tempting [for free agents]," said Joe Johnson. "It helps. If that’s what you want to know, it helps."
"That’s what most players want anyway," Thaddeus Young said. "They just want owners that care and owners that put the money toward the team and try to help build a great brand and a great team."
The 70,000 square foot facility has been under construction and under the guidance of Irina Pavlova, Prokhorov's New York rep and president of ONEXIM Sports and Entertainment, for nearly two years. And while many of its amenities were well-publicized and renderings widely viewed, the finished product produced some ooh's and ah's.
Moreover, the opening --and the team's first practice late Wednesday afternoon-- also produced some history.
"At last the Nets are completely integrated into Brooklyn," said Mikhail Prokhorov. "Our arena, our offices and now the HSS Training Center are all part of this great borough, including its vibrant Sunset Park community. Team training and player development are essential parts of our team's core values and we look forward to building a winning culture on this stunning foundation."
Mayor Bill DeBlasio welcomed the team. "With this new training center in Sunset Park, the Brooklyn Nets are now truly making Brooklyn their home," said de Blasio, before turning to the players and telling them " the Nets are contributing greatly to what's happening in Brooklyn."
There were some interesting details left for the opening, like the custom-made oversized sofas and chairs in the players' lounge, the 8-foot high shower heads measured so Brook Lopez doesn't have to duck, and touch screens everywhere for coaches to stop and show players their mistakes. With the practice courts at the center of the facility, Nets officials pointed out that one side was all about the players --their lounges, their lockers, their weight rooms while the other was the staff's preserve, the coaches, the GM (whoever he may be) and staff, with banks of computers and conference room.
Nothing was more spectacular than the 16-foot high windows on the 8ith floor facility's northern perimeter, offering views from the Statue of Liberty and Jersey City skyline past Lower Manhattan and the World Trade Center to the broad brownstone expanse of Brooklyn and Queens.
Among those present today was NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum who said he could see his old high school, Brooklyn Tech, from the facility. Tatum told NetsDaily that the facility should help with "recruiting and retention" of players but also will show a level of commitment by ownership.
"It gives us all great satisfaction to see the project come to life and we hope it will be a source of pleasure and positivity for the entire neighborhood." said Pavlova.
Leo Ehrline, the Nets longtime chief administrative officer, put it differently. "We're not in New Jersey anymore."
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