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BAND OF FANS: An updated look at young Nets fans dealing with COVID and a loss of hoops

Back in May, we asked writer Ajayi Browne to check in with his pals, all loyal Nets fans in Brooklyn, to see how they were doing without hoops. Now, with games on the horizon, he’s back with an update.

Barclays Center in downtown Brooklyn... Photo by Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images

Brooklyn Teens vs. COVID-19, Part 2!

As if things couldn’t get any worse, buckle up for this one. The Nets are in Orlando without SIX potential starters. Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Nicolas Claxton are gone due to injury. Spencer Dinwiddie, DeAndre Jordan and Taurean Prince are out because of the horrors of COVID-19. Well how about Wilson Chandler? We won’t be seeing him either because he opted to sit out. It has already been one hell of ride for the Brooklyn Nets, but now it seems like things are starting to heat up.

In Orlando, the Brooklyn Nets will represent more than just the city. They will represent the most hit-up piece of property on earth. New York City was the epicenter for the coronavirus during the season pause and out of all five boroughs, Brooklyn was most affected, with more than 5,000 dead. As Jarrett Allen described it, “the empty streets ... the sirens.” The Nets, of course, weren’t immune themselves. Seven players have tested positive and at least one, Spencer Dinwiddie, got very sick.

After talking to some of my boys, I was curious to see what they had to say on the virus’ impact on Brooklyn. I also wanted to hear some of their thoughts on the Nets too.

Gerald, who majors in General Studies at Fulton Montgomery Community College, told me “Living in Brooklyn, people are masked up because corona is lurking. Making sure to grab a mask before leaving the house has become an everyday routine and something that I am still getting used to today. It just sucks.”

Jameel Yahia, my friend who studies Sports Management at St John’s University, chimed in by saying, “Corona has affected me because I have no social life anymore. It’s just something that I have to adjust to … something you wouldn’t ever think would happen in your life. It makes me not take going out or watching a Nets game at Barclays for granted.”

When talking about the Nets, I asked the million dollar question. “What would it mean to you if Brooklyn, despite all the hardships, still find a way to win it all?”

After giving off the huge sigh of a huge fan, Gerald told me, “Even though the Nets are undermanned, we are going to fight. At the end of the day, I am still going to respect them.”

When I asked Jameel he looked like a kid in a candy shop after hearing my question. He responded by saying, “If the Nets are to win it all without everybody, it would honestly be the BEST comeback story the NBA has ever seen.”

Fahad Saleem, a friend of mine that is an incoming sophomore at Farmingdale, wasn’t really surprised when hearing my question. In fact, he seemed a bit calm, and it kind of scared me because I didn’t know why. Well … that was until I heard his response.. He answered by saying, “We are not the best team, but we have enough to compete. The Nets have dealt with adversity in the past and this is just another bump in the road that we will overcome.”

On paper this team looks like it won’t do anything come July 30th. I beg to differ. The Nets have always been resilient and they are known for adapting to any situation put in front of them. With Jacque Vaughn leading the ship, I have no doubts that the Nets will make it to the playoffs and do what they do best. Putting Brooklyn on the map and making noise while they’re at it. Other teams should expect to see a team that isn’t ready to give up.

I applaud everyone that is playing a part in the NBA resuming. Players, coaches, staff, broadcasters, facility workers, and more. People are still dying due to COVID-19 yet they are still doing their best for the return of NBA basketball. I also want to send my prayers out to Spencer Dinwiddie, DeAndre Jordan, and Taurean Prince along with their families. I am hoping for a speedy recovery and to see them back on the floor doing what they love in the city we all love!