There is no better event outside a game at Barclays Center that gives the players and their fans a more memorable experience than the Nets annual “Practice in the Park.” On Saturday afternoon, — the fourth running of the unique event in Brooklyn Bridge Park — it provided the players with a close-up look at the growing basketball culture forming in Brooklyn.
“It was such a fun environment to be in. With all the fresh air, obviously the view, the music, I’m really enjoying it,” Patty Mills said, in the shadow of the Lower Manhattan skyline.
Culture has been a staple to the Nets organization ... and Patty Mills. That is what helped lead Mills, a player that sticks to culture, to Brooklyn. The veteran guard was smiling throughout the event and was amazed by the community's presence.
“I’m a culture guy. That’s who I am and what makes me tick,” Mills said in August. “So to be able to dive in deep to the culture of Brooklyn, and everything that’s great about that and what it has to offer was the next step.”
It didn’t take long for Mills to see what the fanbase had to offer. When the players rolled into Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 2 in small vans, they were welcomed with the loud and iconic, ‘Brook-lyn’ chants. After each player was introduced by Nets PA announcer Olivier Sedra, the athletes threw miniature basketballs and t-shirts into the stands before taking the court for fun basketball drills and activities.
Steve Nash also experienced the event for the first time — there was no open practice last season because of the pandemic. He expressed his admiration for the overall production as well. He told the estimated 2,500 fans that he couldn’t imagine a more dramatic backdrop.
“This is probably the best location you could probably have an open practice in the world,” Nash told the crowd.
With Saturday’s annual community event in the books, the next step for Mills and the Nets are to deliver the grand prize to Brooklyn — the first elusive NBA championship.
“It’s awesome. Just to know that this is such a community event and to have everyone here and to have the support of everyone and the entire team,” Mills said Saturday. “Essentially from this point on, we’re going to be on a long journey to achieve what we want to achieve, a championship.”
Afterwards, Mills, the native of an island off the land Down Under, took to Twitter to emphasize how impressed he was with the big city.