Brooklyn is getting another basketball team.
The Brooklyn Nets’ ownership may have lost its Kings County cred when Jay-Z sold his marginal shares in the team to play agent for pro ballers elsewhere, but a pair of Bedford-Stuyvesant boys are building a professional basketball squad from the ground up in Mill Basin, where every baller from there to Greenpoint, not to mention a kid from Memphis, showed up for a chance to get paid for the game.
“We had a lot of people coming out, some of the best players in New York, and a few from New Jersey and Memphis,” said Onez Onnasis, who owns the burgeoning basketball team along with his long-time friend Neal Bookers. “We even had one kid who was trying to make it out from Trinidad, but he got held up by a wedding.”
The new team, called the Brooklyn Blackout, hosted tryouts at the Aviator Sports and Events Center, its new home, on Sunday, and the team expected to begin its pre-season with the American Basketball Association in September, when it will most likely take on a few regional teams, including the hated Staten Island Vipers.
The Blackout will host another round of tryouts at Aviator between now and then, but head coach Mark Cook, without naming anyone, confirmed that Sunday’s auditions were fruitful enough to fill at least five spots on his roster.
“I saw at least five to seven guys that are more than likely going to be on the team,” said Cook. “We like the way they played, their attitude, their ability, and their size.”
Cook, whose experience includes coaching the Amateur Athletic Union’s Brooklyn Rams, said he looks forward to the challenge of building a professional team out of raw recruits and — considering that college players are off limits to the league — there’s no better place than Brooklyn to find that kind of material.
“In the ABA, most of the teams are built this way,” he said. “Most coaches or owners won’t have a ready-made team, so they’ll try and grab the best talent they can, but Brooklyn’s a pretty big place, not to mention a basketball mecca.”
Booker and Onnasis, who met each other playing street ball in Bedford-Stuyvesant, had long dreamed of building a team out of Brooklyn talent, but finally decided the time was right when Jay-Z backed out of the Nets, according to Onnasis.
“We both love Brooklyn, and Jay-Z has something going on with the Brooklyn Nets, but when he sold his ownership, we thought it was our time to put something together and bring something to Brooklyn, which was owned by someone from Brooklyn,” he said.Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cn
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