When the Long Island Nets — the G-League affiliate of the Brooklyn Nets — take the floor at Nassau Coliseum for their season opener against the Raptors 905 on Friday night, there will be two players wearing the red, white, and blue that should garner a little more attention and cheers from the crowd.
That’s because two Nets players are from Long Island after earning roster spots with impressive showings during training camp. The official roster was announced by the team on Thursday.
The Long Islanders to make the roster are Merrick’s Patrick Gardner and North Amityville’s Terry Roberts.
Patrick Gardner | Merrick
Gardner, a 6-foot-11 center, grew up a long three-pointer from the Coliseum. Acquired by the Brooklyn Nets as an affiliate player, Gardner played for Kellenberg High School, across the street from “The Barn,” and played college basketball at Marist.
But now, his home office is not far from his home.
“I’m very excited to be here,” said Gardner. “It’s surreal to be playing in my hometown, so I’m just excited to get to work.”
“The Coliseum means a lot to people here, and it means a lot to me to play here in front of these fans,” said Gardner. “I’m just ready to make the fans happy and make this organization happy, and let’s win a championship here. It’s surreal to be playing in a place like this.”
Senior college season stats:
Terry Roberts | North Amityville
The other Long Island native on the team is 6-foot-2 guard Roberts. The former star at Georgia received a training camp invite following a local tryout and will now be playing in front of family and friends at the Coliseum.
To say he’s clicking his heels and saying, “There’s no place like home,” would be an understatement.
“It feels amazing to be back home,” said Roberts. “I’m just looking around… I used to play here, and I just remember being in high school and always wanting to play and be in this gym, and I was just like wow this is amazing that I’m here, and this is going to be my home gym now.”
“A lot of legends coming out of here, and I’m excited and grateful to be here,” added Roberts. “It means the world to me because I’m from here. Just to showcase from Long Island that it’s possible if you put the work in and believe in yourself.”
Senior college season stats:
The Long Islanders
The primary focus of the Long Island Nets is to develop players and teach them the Brooklyn system to be able to have players ready for when they get the call-up to the NBA, whether it’s with the Nets or with another NBA team.
It’s also important to build a fan base, and there are a couple of ways you can do that: One is to provide the community with an entertaining brand of basketball, and the other is to have some local talent that could help fill some seats at the Coliseum.
In the case of Gardner and Roberts, they check both boxes.
“We’re excited about what they bring to the table,” said Long Island Nets General Manager J.R. Holden.
“Patrick Gardner can shoot it and put it on the floor. We like his upside, so we’re excited about him hopefully making the team and continuing to grow.”
“Terry Roberts has been unbelievable. He’s been a shining star so far just for what we see as far as his talent level. We’re excited about what he can potentially become.”
Quest for a G-League title
For Gardner, Roberts and the rest of the Long Island Nets, the quest for a G-League championship begins on Friday night.
The goal is to raise another championship banner to the historic rafters of Nassau Coliseum. The Nassau Coliseum is known for being the former long-time home of the NHL’s New York Islanders and for the four Stanley Cup banners that used to hang from the rafters; the 51-year-old arena also has some pretty special basketball history. There was a time when the New York Nets of the ABA, and then the NBA, called the Coliseum home, and that history is reflected in the rafters with the Nets’ ABA championship banners.
There is also a banner honoring a Long Island native who just happens to be in the Basketball Hall of Fame. “These players don’t understand that Dr. J (Julius Erving) has played in this gym and different greats who are in the Hall of Fame have touched the floor here,” said Holden. “We want to continue that legacy.”
First Long Islander on the LI Nets
Five years ago, JJ Moore of Brentwood became the first Long Island native to make the LI Nets. Here is his story:
Top: Marist’s Patrick Gardner, right drives against Iona’s Nelly Junior Joseph during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the championship of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament, Saturday, March 11, 2023, in Atlantic City N.J. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke). Georgia guard Terry Roberts (0) shoots against Alabama during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 18, 2023, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt).