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‘I Love This City’ D’Angelo Russell opens up about Brooklyn, declines free agency talk

Antonio Russell

D’Angelo Russell loves New York. Now it’s time to see if it loves him back.

Brooklyn Nets restricted free agent, Russell, expressed his love for the city Sunday afternoon at his ProCamps basketball camp at MetroPlex in Metuchen, N.J.

“I love this city, Russell said. “It’s fun its fun. You know, it’s a city that loves basketball, there’s a court on every corner, maybe two.”

And he said, he loves how much the city (and its suburbs) has embraced him.

“Yeah, it never goes unnoticed. I appreciate the finer things, their parents putting their kids through [the camp]. I love kids telling their parents, ‘He’s my favorite player. I want to go to his camp.’ I enjoy that.”

Through a spokesman, Russell declined to talk about any free agency related questions at his ProCamp basketball camp but his comments about the city and his fanbase is yet another indicator he wants to stay. The question, of course, is whether that will mean anything a week from now when free agency begins.

At his first ProCamps basketball camp, Day two of the camp, Russell was electric with kids running from baseline-to-baseline sticking their hands out for high-fives to running drills with them on the court. For Russell, the biggest takeaway from the camp was putting smiles on the kids faces and knowing the hard work he has put in over the years is paying off.

“Honestly just putting a smile on these kids faces,” Russell told NetsDaily. “This is my camp and seeing how many kids look up to me and appreciate the work I put in throughout the years.”

From a kid’s point of view, Russell believes there were so many takeaways because of his “hands on” interactions and his participation at his first ProCamp, which is not always the case. In other camps, NBA player parachute in, spend a little time with the kids and jump back in their limos. Russell was on hand for both days of his camp.

Russell told reporters. “There are so many things you can take away from somebody giving back like this. I’m hands on so I’m running around these kids, they can ask me anything. I’m participating so they can see me and do what they ask of them. It’s a lot you can get and you can take advantage of a lot of things.”

One clear takeaway from his ProCamp was Russell handing a birthday boy his shoes and signing them before handing them off. Russell told reporters that the move was not planned and the kid asked for the shoes.

“He asked,” Russell said. “Honestly, it was his birthday, ‘happy birthday to that kid.’ Things like that change people and people remember that forever so you want to come in with that kind of mindset.”

Russell even pulled out a rare piece of his game in Day 2 of his ProCamp: dunking.

For Russell, he admitted he has never been a dunking point guard. He was always a smack-the-backboard type player.

“I never had hops to be honest with you,” Russell said. “I was always the lay-it-up type of guy, try to smack the backboard, so that was new for me.”

A camp organizer asked the restricted free agent to come up with a number between 1and 18.

“Eleven,” Russell said. That, of course, just happens to be the same number as Kyrie Irving, the unrestricted free agent point guard who could replace Russell come July.

After a spokesman repeatedly made it clear in regard to zero free agency questions come up during the interview, two reporters stayed around until the camp concluded to follow the restricted free agent to his car to follow up. They got nowhere.

“I’m done,” Russell responded to the two reporters.

Now that the fun of the two day ProCamp basketball camp is officially over for the Nets point guard, Russell is one week away from the biggest summer of his young NBA career and the biggest payday of his career, with the latest rumors being he is willing to talk with the team that drafted him, then dumped him: the Los Angeles Lakers.

One thing is for sure: Russell won’t be able to maintain his silence forever. He and the Nets will have to make their decisions ... and they will be public.