Rather than seeing the Red Storm play on their home court, basketball fans gathered at St. John’s University in Jamaica to get a glimpse of pre-season NBA action.
On Friday, October 23, the New Jersey Nets played the Philadelphia 76ers in an exhibition game hosted by the college. The newly refurbished interior of Carnesecca Arena – including a brand new glossy hardwood court and 6,000 panoramic seats – made for a perfect venue for a great basketball battle only days before the opening tip-off of the 2009-2010 NBA season.
Though only 3,284 people attended the game, the crowd became lively and cheers echoed through the halls of the university when the Nets pushed up the tempo.
Highlighting the exhibition game was two of Queenss own high school products – Rafer Alston from the Nets and Royal Ivey from the 76ers. Both of these New York natives graduated from a prestigious basketball-driven high school – Cardozo in Bayside.
“I know Alston and Ivey … they grew up in my area,” said A.J. Rhoden, of Jamaica. “It’s good because they can come back to their home town and play for the fans.”
Even Cardozo’s head coach, Ron Naclerio, came to watch his former star athletes compete against each other.
“It’s tremendous seeing them play again,” said Naclerio. “I was there with about 100-150 Cardozo kids – some who it was their first basketball game,” added the coach.
For the Nets, it seemed as though they had jets on their feet and springs on their heels. Rookie Terrence Williams, Brook Lopez, Chris Douglas-Roberts, and Yi Jianlian all put on a dunk-fest for the Queens crowd. Fast-break plays and behind-the-back passes had the fans stomping their feet and clapping feverishly all night.
“I really enjoyed it … it’s different,” said Tamara Bentham, from Jamaica. “It’s something to do and it’s great for the community.”
New York Knicks little-big man Nate Robinson was sitting courtside to cheer on his high school friend, Terrence Williams, who dropped 23 points and eight assists for the 76ers.
The Nets dominated throughout the entire game – winning 110-88.