By Tim Oakes and Rebekah Sherry
The Long Island Nets of the NBA Developmental League hosted a Skills and Scrimmages Day at Long Island Lutheran High School in Brookville last Wednesday. This is the first charity event the team has hosted as it enters its inaugural season as an expansion team.
“This team gives them[kids] more access to guys at the professional level,” John Buck, head men’s basketball coach at LI Lutheran High School said. “They have an ability to connect more with the community and it’s exciting that we have that here.”
Entry to the charity event clinic cost $10 and benefitted the High School and the Brooklyn Nets Foundation. Participants were able to play with members of the Long Island Nets of the NBA D-League as the team approaches the season. Smiles were on the faces of each child, Nets player and on the parents spectating from the bleachers.
“We live in Long Island and I work right next to the coliseum,” Gregg Gerstman, who was watching his son play with the Nets, said. “I think it’s great that they’re coming to the coliseum and we’re gonna have a professional basketball team.”
The 75 children participating in the event were able to shoot around and perform skill drills with members of the team. Afterwards the team held an intrasquad scrimmage, giving the community an exclusive first look at the new D-League team in action.
The LI Nets are the official D-League affiliate of the Brooklyn Nets. The D-League began in 2001 with eight teams. In 2005, NBA commissioner at the time, David Stern, announced the NBA’s initiative to turn the D-League into a full-fledge “minor league farm system.” Today, the league contains 22 teams.
The expansion team will play its first season at the Barclays Center where they will share the home court with the Brooklyn Nets. Renovations on Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum presented by New York Community Bank in Uniondale, NY will be complete in time for the start of the 2017-2018 season.
However, it will not be the first time the Coliseum has been the home of the Nets. Before the Brooklyn Nets the team were the New Jersey Nets from 1977-2012 and the New York Nets from 1968-1977. As the New York Nets, the team played its home games at the Coliseum from 1972-1977.
This LI Nets roster features four players who have played in the NBA: Gary Forbes, who played 111 NBA games with the Denver Nuggets and Toronto Raptors, Carrick Felix, Lazar Hayward and Chris McCullough. Two of them are older than their 26-year-old head coach Ronald Nored.
Nored played basketball at Butler from 2008-2012 under coach Brad Stevens, the current head coach of the Boston Celtics. He was asked to coach in the Boston Celtics organization once his former coach was hired as the team’s new head coach.
“For my time at Butler, for me as a coach, it was an opportunity for me to learn from Brad and how he builds his relationships with players and gets them to mesh,” Nored said. “That has been the first thing we have tried to do with the LI Nets.”
A Brentwood resident, forward J.J. Moore, also competed in the scrimmage and was supposed to play for the Nets this season. Prior to being waived on Monday, Moore was the lone member of the team who was from Long Island.
“It’s just a blessing putting on this uniform for my city and being the first Long Island player to play for the Nets D-League team,” Moore said.
He was waived along with four other players. This was partly in an effort to make room for second year power forward, Chris McCullough. As Brooklyn’s head coach Kenny Atkinson confirmed, both McCullough and rookie point guard Isaiah Whitehead will spend time with the organization’s affiliate. That dynamic only serves as more of a reason for fans to check out a LI Nets game this season.