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Trip to 9-11 Memorial humbling for Nets players, staff

Brooklyn Nets

They got off buses near what had been Ground Zero, the scene of the worst devastation on that day in September 2001 when the world changed. Each looked somber as they exited.

All 20 players in camp, their coaches and staff were on hand to visit the National 9-11 Memorial ... and specifically, a new exhibit on the healing power of sports in the aftermath of the attacks.

There are 9-11 memorials as well at the Pentagon and in Shanksville, PA, honoring others who died on September 11, but the attacks are most closely associated with the World Trade Center where 2,700 of the 3,000 killed that day died.

As Tom Dowd, the Nets in-house beat writer, wrote Saturday...

They walked past the reflecting pool memorial in the footprint of the south tower and descended down into the museum for a tour to learn more about the history of the day. They passed the Trident, the piece of the towers’ frame that the museum was built around; the missing posters projected on the wall; the Survivors’ Stairs; the fire truck from Ladder 3; and the Last Column.

They visited the Survivor Tree which made it through the attacks and Caris LeVert and Kenny Atkinson placed a bouquet of flowers amid its branches.

For many, the attacks were the stuff of history books, not personal recollection.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, for example, was six years old. Six other players on the visit yesterday were even younger. Dzanan Musa and Rodions Kurucs were two and three year olds living in Bosnia and Latvia. Nuni Omot was six as well, having recently arrived in the U.S. after spending the first three years of his life in a refugee camp. Only Jared Dudley, then 16, was close to adulthood.

“It’s humbling,” said Hollis-Jefferson. “It’s scary also. You never know what could happen. You never know when your time is. It’s definitely an eye-opener to cherish every moment, seize every moment. You’ve also got to think about putting yourself in other people’s shoes, the people that are family members, the victims, and those things. It’s tragic. It’s hard to think about.”

But think about it, they did. None of the players were in New York that day, but their coach was. He declined to talk much about what he was doing that day, but noted a lot of the rationale for bringing the team to the Memorial had to do with the city, as Dowd wrote, “that all of them, regardless of their background, share as home today.”

“We play in the city of New York, we work here, we live here, so for us to get an understanding of the history, what went on from a New York perspective, a United States of America perspective, global perspective, it affected all of us,” said Atkinson.

The Memorial staff thanked the team and wished them well.

“You learn more about the players, you learn more about your staff,” said Atkinson. “I think those things count. It translates to the locker room, it translates to the court. I’m not sure…That’s not why we’re doing it. I think every New Yorker, every American, you should understand our history.”