When the Nets moved to Brooklyn, a major piece of their identity was giving back to the community. They did little things like giving an advantage to Brooklyn natives to land a job at Barclays, fundraisers, autograph signings at local shops and more.
Now they have their first Brooklyn-born player in Isaiah Whitehead, a resident of Coney Island and former Lincoln High School standout. Whitehead has yet to play his first game in a Brooklyn Nets uniform, but he's already giving back to the borough he's called home for 21 years.
This past Sunday, August 14, Whitehead held a community cookout in Coney Island for all ages. The packed park featured clowns, jungle gyms and a photo booth for the younger kids.
No surprise, the main feature of the day were three basketball games. One game for girls, one game for middle school students and one high school game. Whitehead named the games "Coney Island vs. NYC".
The first game featured navy blue vs. white, Whitehead's team colors from Lincoln High, while the second game featured royal blue vs. grey from his Seton Hall Days, and the high school game consisted of black vs. white... for obvious reasons. The last game included some of the best players in the country like Hamadou Diallo of Putnam Science Academy in Queens and Isaiah Washington of St. Raymond in the Bronx.
Hey now! On hand to behold the event was Caris LeVert, also selected by the Nets in this year's draft with the 20th pick.
For Isaiah Whitehead, it was a chance to give back and thank the community that raised him.
"My community means everything to me," Whitehead said on Sunday. "To be able to provide a fun day with a cookout and great basketball is just a small way for me to say thank you for all of their support that they have shown me."
This type of stuff doesn't go unnoticed by Sean Marks, Kenny Atkinson and the rest of the Brooklyn Nets new regime. On draft day, Marks told reporters how getting familiar with Isaiah and who he is off the court played a big role in their decision to select him. Whitehead's "tenacity, his professionalism, for us he embodies what Brooklyn grit is about," said Marks that night.
Off the court activities like this justifies that faith to Marks, the Nets and most importantly --- the kids and families of Brooklyn.
All in all, it was a nice day in Coney Island where the community got to celebrate Isaiah's success, but it also showed that character builds a culture and guys like Whitehead seem to fit the criteria the Nets have established for their players.