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Garrett Temple getting better with age ... on and off the court

Brooklyn Nets v Washington Wizards Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images

On the night of “The Clean Sweep” back in June (remember that?), first word of the Nets success was a Marc Spears tweet that the Nets had signed Garrett Temple.

“Who cares?” was the general reaction among fans. Bring on Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and DeAndre Jordan. Temple was the hors d’oeuvres. We wanted the feast!

But with the season now nearly done (or done), Temple has proven to be a big addition, on the court and off. In fact, Temple, who will soon turn 34, has gotten better with age! If the season ended today, this would be GT’s best season in his 10-year career.

He’s averaging 10.3 points, along with 3.5 rebounds and 2.6 assists — all career highs. Not bad for a player on his 10th team in his 10 years.

In an interview with the New Orleans Advocate last week, Temple said it’s all about never taking his status for granted.

“I don’t take for granted what I’ve been able to accomplish. I never stay satisfied,” Temple told Robin Fambrough. “I still continue to work like I’m the guy on a 10-day contract. A lot of guys out there working to get a chance. You can’t be satisfied.”

And he knows about 10-day contracts. He’s had eight of them ... in a two year span earlier in his career.

Now, he’s faced with a new challenge, the coronavirus, one that he’s met as the team’s veteran leader and as a member of a family facing the virus head on.

As he’s noted, the Nets have provided him with equipment and a 90-minute training regimen (as well as groceries.) So he’s at home in Brooklyn doing the best he can along with his fiancée, Miss USA 2017 Kara McCullough, and their chocolate lab. He disclosed that he was not among the four Nets who tested positive.

“This isn’t the New York people have seen,” Temple said. “No people or cars. My fiancée and I are fine. I did not test positive but some of my teammates did. We quarantined and now we’re staying at home like we’re supposed to. Just us and our dog.”

He’s said that he and his teammates are in constant touch.

Temple has also taken to social media to praise those New Yorkers and others who are helping the rest of us get through the coronavirus nightmare.

“To those that have to work right now and are doing things to provide necessities for us at home, we thank you,” Temple said in a video tweeted by the Nets. “All of the workers at the grocery stores, all of the nurses that are going in — some without masks, some without protective gear — all the people in the service industry that have to continue to go in to provide services to those that need help, we thank you, we thank you.”

Temple also noted that his mom is one of those workers.

“My mother is in the service industry and she has people that work for her that are scared to go to work because of the lack of protective gear. We really appreciate the courage and we thank you so much from the bottom of my heart.”

Soundra Temple-Johnson is founder and CEO of LA Health & Rehab Center in Baton Rouge, LA.

Monday afternoon, Temple disclosed that his older brother, Elliott, is battling the virus. In a one-on-one discussion with Dr. Cleavon Gilman, Chief Resident in Emergency Medicine at one of New York’s hardest hit hospitals, he talked about the need for athletes to step up and help health care professionals...

Temple also spoke to Fambrough about the prospects for a return to play. Temple is a member of the NBPA’s executive committee.

“Right now, the health of our fans and the world comes first,” Temple said. “Obviously, the ideal thing for us would be play out the rest of the season, but when that would be is unsure.

“There is a chance this could push back the draft. And possibly the start of next season back.”

Long-term, he told the Advocate, there are different issues.

“In terms of the NBA’s future, I think the biggest thing we need to focus on is how we reach our fans. You have to look at how fans are watching games right now. They are not watching full games like they used to.

“They watch more highlights on phones and iPads. Interest picks up as it gets close to the playoffs and then when the playoffs come, people watch.

“Maybe you put in a tournament of some kind at midseason to generate interest. At the end of the season, you could have play-in games for seeds seven, eight, nine and 10. Something needs to change. If not, revenues will decline. No one wants that.”

So leadership for Temple is a full-time job and even though he wasn’t the headliner on the night of June 30, it’s hard to think of the Nets without Temple.