Leftover turkey and holiday shopping could not keep children from enjoying hoops action as Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez entertained more than 100 children at his Citi Pro Basketball Camp Sunday at Queens College’s Fitzgerald Gymnasium.
“I really want these kids to realize how much fun sports can be,” Lopez said.
The event was geared to youngsters from 7 to 18 from all over the city. Lopez arrived at his camp hours after scoring 20 points and grabbing nine rebounds in the Nets’ 98-97 win against the Grizzlies in Memphis the night before. Lopez’s fans appreciated his taking the time out to put on the camp and provide a memorable experience.
“It’s awesome. I get to meet new people,” said 10-year old Justine Calcutta, of Ozone Park. “Then I get to meet Brook Lopez — he’s a superstar.”
“She was dying to meet him. As soon as I told her I was bringing her here, she went ballistic,” her father Douglas Calcutta said.
During the camp, Lopez played games, signed autographs, took pictures and fielded questions from inquisitive children. In his sixth season out of Stanford University, he became a first time NBA All-Star last season. This season he is averaging 20 points and six rebounds and recently became the ninth player in Nets history to reach 6,000 points.
Lopez recalled that he and his twin brother Robin Lopez, a player for the Portland Trailblazers, participated in basketball camps like the one he ran over the weekend when the brothers were younger.
“I’m just 25. I was doing these camps not that long ago,” he said.
Growing up in Fresno, Calif., the 7-foot Lopez idolized San Antonio Spurs center Tim Duncan and current Nets teammate Kevin Garnett.
“You can’t do better than that,” Lopez said. “They were two all-time great post players.”
During an extended Thanksgiving holiday weekend with eating high on the program, the camp created an environment for kids to stay active, organizers said.
“It’s great for kids looking up to a guy like Brook Lopez, who is in season and willing to put on a clinic like this and spend three hours,” said Eric Liebler, senior vice president of Pro Camps, which operates camps for thousands of kids each year on behalf of professional athletes.
“I really enjoy my time hanging with them,” Lopez said.
ProCamps is no stranger to Queens. Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony hosted a similar camp at St. John’s University and Queens College the past two summers.
Check out procamps.com for future clinics in the area.
©2013 Community News Group
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