By Mr. Bruce Hill (IMCOM)November 14, 2013
The Brooklyn Nets paid homage to veterans at Fort Hamilton with first practicing at the sports and fitness center then served Thanksgiving dinner to dozens of service members at the Fort Hamilton community club Nov. 11, Veterans Day.
"You always hear about players coming to do meet-and-greets at high schools, but for the whole Brooklyn Nets basketball team and staff to come to Fort Hamilton and celebrate Veteran's Day with us, it's an absolutely incredible thing," said Air Force Technical Sgt. Derek Bishop, who spearheaded the event.
"I've never heard of anything like this before, and I've been in the Air Force 15 years," Bishop said. "It's an honor to have them here and I think it's great that they take the time to come out and spend time with service members."
The Nets arrived by bus from the nearby Barclays Center, their home arena, around noon. As service members waited anxiously, Net team members received cheers as they slowly entered the gym to begin their practice. The team spent about two hours running drills and practicing offensive and defensive strategies. Later, they welcome all the service members to join them in a huge group photo where Bishop later presented a token of appreciation to the team -- an encased U.S. flag which was flown over the World trade Center site on the 10th anniversary of 9-11.
"You couldn't ask for a better day," head coach Jason Kidd said. "I think when you talk about role models, those guys are role models. They protect our country and save our lives."
Later, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, the team expressed the appreciation further when they served turkey, stuffing, potatoes and vegetables to service members during the meet-and-greet portion of the day's activities. They also served as waiters to service members as they poured and refilled drinks and provided other services. Later, Net players sat one per table to mingle, share laughs and stories with service members. The players then traded challenge coins, which had the Brooklyn Nets logo on one side and the logos of every armed service on the other, with the service members.
"It's only fitting that we could come here to the base and have a meal with the Soldiers and thank them," said Nets small forward Paul Pierce. "We really admire and look up to a lot of things they do for this country. A lot of them are sports fans, so it's great for us to be part of this. They make huge sacrifices. The potential dangers they put themselves in front of just shows tremendous courage."
Brook Lopez, Nets center, seemed like a kid in a candy shop as he hopped from table to table to meet and speak to as many service members as he could. Other players signed basketballs and took photos with service members.
"We play basketball for a living and the things that these soldiers do is part of everyday life," Pierce said. "We don't realize it because being in the game of basketball; it's really not a real normal life. We understand that these are Soldiers who fight for their country and really serve to protect and really sacrifice so much."