Brook Lopez is pretty easily the Nets' best player, which means Brooklyn was pretty darn lucky this summer when it didn't have to face losing its strongest performer to free agency. Lopez, who certainly had options on his table, ended up re-signing with the Nets, a three-year, $60 million commitment.
Lopez would've had his reasons for leaving. There was rumored tension between him and coach Lionel Hollins, who benched him midway through last season before inserting him back into the starting lineup. The team, meanwhile, wasn't getting any better and probably won't have its own draft pick until 2019. That's not the best situation in the world.
Yet, Lopez stayed. And why? Because he loves New York City, apparently.
Here’s a simple truth about Lopez: He likes New York. A lot. It’s as big a surprise to him as it might be to you. California-born and raised, Stanford-bred, Lopez’s first time out in Manhattan was the week of the 2008 draft. The lifestyle was an adjustment; so were the people. Lopez recalls an early interaction with former Nets assistant coach Tom Barrise, a New Jersey native. During one practice, Barrise was getting on Lopez. Or so Lopez thought. When Lopez barked back, Barrise called him over. I’m not mad at you, Brook, Barrise said. This is just how we talk around here.
“There is an in-your-face attitude out here,” Lopez said. “But I like it. I like everything about New York City. “I love how diverse it is. I love how everything you need is right here. It’s just a great place.”