And a time was had by all! And that includes Kyrie Irving.
The Nets hosted their fourth “Practice in the Park” Saturday afternoon at Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 2, a scene bracketed by Lower Manhattan’s dramatic skyline and of course the BQE. The event hosted an estimated 2,500 fans who came to watch Nets players take the court where some of them actually play.
Paul Millsap was the only Net player to not participate in the event due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols. More importantly, Irving was one of 17 Nets to take the court and get in touch with fans at the event. Irving, the only Nets player to wear a mask throughout the entirety of the event, received a nice ovation from the crowd when introduced by Nets PA announcer, Olivier Sedra.
Kyrie Irving’s Practice in the Park introduction. pic.twitter.com/w4uIaLUfpB— Chris Milholen (@CMilholenSB) October 9, 2021
Patty Mills, the only player who spoke to reporters at the event, said it was “awesome” to have Irving join his teammates at the event and interact with the fans.
“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.”
Asked if he’s spoken to Irving, Mills said he hadn’t ... yet.
“We just rolled up here to be able to enjoy the event, so we haven’t had a chance to catch up yet,” Mills said. “But I’m sure those conversations will come.”
Irving participated in the team’s activities on the court and threw t-shirts and miniature basketballs into the stands for the fans in attendance. At one point, he walked towards the stands to provide a young fan with his autographed jersey.
The Nets guard’s appearance at “Practice in the Park” comes a day after the city determined that the team’s HSS Training Center, their practice facility in Industry City, is a private office building and thus not covered by the city’s vaccination regulations. The ruling will allow Irving to participate in home practices with his teammates in Brooklyn, presumably starting Sunday.
Although he is able to participate in home practices, Irving is still unable to play at Barclays Center for home games due to the city of New York’s vaccination mandate for indoor areas — a mandate that went into effect in September. With the uncertainly that Irving can miss 41 home games, Mills’ role is impacted the most being the second-string guard. He said the team is taking it one step at a time in that approach.
“I think we’re taking it one step at a time. To have everyone here outside is pretty special,” Mills said.
Beyond Irving’s appearance, and the fans having a good time, there were other notable moments, like the New York Liberty appearance...
And the annual tradition of crowning the best rookie dancer continued.
Day’Ron Sharpe finished a distant second...
The crowd represented a diverse grouping from fathers and sons to mothers and daughters to the Brooklyn Brigade to individual fans just showing up to support their team. Aisles of smiles.
- Kyrie Irving attends Nets’ outdoor practice, but long-term availability remains unclear - Greg Logan - Newsday
- Patty Mills may soak up minutes if Kyrie Irving is ineligible for Nets - Greg Logan - Newsday
- Kyrie Irving returns to Nets with vaccination issues still front and center - Zach Braziller - New York Post
- Nets’ Patty Mills digging Brooklyn atmosphere after outdoor workout - Zach Braziller - New York Post
- Kyrie Irving makes grand appearance at Nets outdoor practice - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- PRACTICE IN THE PARK - Brooklyn Nets