NEW YORK -- The Brooklyn Nets were presented with an American flag that was flown over the World Trade Center site on the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks during their visit to Fort Hamilton Army Base in Brooklyn on Veteran’s Day.
“You always hear about players coming to do meet-and-greets at high schools, but for the whole Brooklyn Nets basketball team to come to Fort Hamilton and celebrate Veteran’s Day with us, it’s an absolutely incredible thing,” said Air Force technical sergeant Derek Bishop, who organized the presentation.
Before the flag presentation, the Nets practiced for two hours in front of 100 troops. After practice, the troops posed for pictures with the flag and all of the Nets players.
“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.”
Bishop, who is from Long Island but based out of Orlando, Fla., organizes color guard for the national anthem at several Nets home games during the season. Through that partnership, the two sides were able to set up this trip. Bishop flew up to attend.
Bishop said, to his knowledge, there are only 15 flags left from the Sept. 11, 2011 ceremony. Most of them were given to the families of those who perished during the attacks.
“I hope that flag flies proudly in the Barclays Center,” Bishop said.
Later Monday, the Nets were slated to serve a meal to the troops in the spirit of Thanksgiving.
“It’s only fitting that we could come here to the base and have a meal with the soldiers and thank them,” Nets small forward Paul Pierce said. “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.”
Pierce said a couple of his uncles have served in the military.
“They make huge sacrifices,” Pierce said of the troops. “The potential dangers they put themselves in front of just shows tremendous courage.”
It wasn’t all serious, though.
When asked what his favorite part of Monday’s base visit was, Nets shooting guard Joe Johnson said, “Mingling with the troops and them telling us how they can take us 1-on-1.”