Peter Sblendorio, New York Daily News: “First of all, how much does it mean to you to take time out of the basketball schedule and give back to the community?
Cam Johnson: It means a lot. I like to say it’s putting faces to the people, to stories you hear, putting faces and names to the environment that I live in, the environment I play in.
Lucas Kaplan, Netsdaily and Swish Theory: You talked at your exit interview last season about wanting to get to know the community, spend time in Brooklyn. Obviously got a busy summer with the World Cup, but how have you done that, including the start to the season?
CJ: I’d say part of it, these days off that we get in between games. Sometimes I might take a little walk, explore, just look around. I did—one of the days was the marathon day. So I went down and watched it and it was just people all over the place, you know? All different types of people from all different types of backgrounds. I took a walk through the park, they had little organized leagues playing in playgrounds just like this. And so I kind of went over, watched some of the games and talked to some of the kids, went through a little farmers market. Just real Brooklyn-type stuff, you know? That’s what I call it, Brooklyn-type stuff. Just figuring it out. I mean, this is a unique place to live in.
LK: When you when you got here at the deadline you talked about this being your first time living in a city such as this. And even though you’ve been involved in the community when you were in Phoenix, how has that process changed now that you’re living in a very unique city?
CJ: There’s people all around every day. People all around every day, and that’s kind of the beauty of it. You get to meet so many people from different walks of life and it kind of builds a sense of community. As opposed to you know, I would easily revert to just being in my house, being ducked off by myself. Go to work, come home, go to work, come home. And to an extent, living here kind of forces you out of that.
PS: How would you describe the commitment as a leader of the team, as a big part of the community to give back to the community that you’re a public figure in?
CJ: These kids look up to us. I was just talking to some of them about daily habits and what it takes, and what it takes to just be successful in whatever they want to be successful in. And the thing that I appreciate about this job is that the kids listen. The kids listen. I think the very unique and beneficial advantage that I have in this job is that when I talk to them, I have their attention. So whether I give them just a minute, two minutes of my time, I feel like I can I can give them a message. Give them a message that may help them. Give them something to think about.
PS: Especially this time of the year too, does it make it a little extra special to do it right before Thanksgiving?
CJ: Definitely, definitely. That’s what I said, they asked me on the way over here, what my emotions would be in doing these things. And I’d say the one thing is gratitude, that I’m in a position where I can give back in some sort of way.
LK: What’s the commitment level it takes to do this during the season as opposed to during the offseason?
CJ: I’ll be honest, on that end, our team makes it easy. And that’s really the point of having a lot of staff members and a lot of people that are dedicated is they make it really easy on us, you know, so if I talked to Cory over there, any of the guys they’ll be able to help set up and put me in the position to just do what I can do. So, we had practice today. Film, practice, treatment, lift, shots, film work. Busy day, right? We had travel yesterday in from Miami. So you know, they make it easy. Car’s there when I’m done. Shower up, get changed, take me over, set me up, tell me what I’m doing. So I had to give a lot of credit on that end to the team around us.
LK: [Jacque Vaughn] talked today about a team with a lot of new guys relatively and as they get more settled into the community, we see you guys doing more stuff like this. Do you attribute that as a focus of the organization that you’ve noticed?
CJ: Yes, definitely. And they they they do a lot to help us in that regard. And so that’s something that I really appreciate about.
Brian Fleurantin, Nets Republic and The Local W: I remember back in the spring, you were at the public school in Sunset Park with JV, Jonquel Jones and a lot of other people. What does it mean to you to have an organization like the Nets and the Liberty co-partnering to be of and in the community in the ways that you guys are?
CJ: They take advantage of it. I think Brooklyn is one of the most unique markets for an NBA team and that everything we do is really ingrained in this borough. … It’s a lot of communities, a lot of different people packed into a small area with a lot of culture. So being able to tap into that and grow the game maybe and in the process even grow our own brand, but just help, just help and be a positive voice, be a positive light.
[The event] back in the spring was their initiative to put the camps in the schools. So just those free programs for kids, tons of kids in the area that look up to it. As Brooklyn, as the Nets are relatively very, very new to the community, I think it’s cool that they make such an effort to do it.
PS: To that end, how does your team embody the city that you guys play in?
CJ: We like to think we’re a gritty team that’s gonna play hard. And I think that’s kind of what the calling card of the city is. Working people, people from all different backgrounds, but a community, a big community.
LK: If you had a friend, family coming to visit you here in Brooklyn, what are some things some activities, some food spots, some neighborhoods that you’ve really grown to love and kind of recommend in your time here?
CJ: You know, there’s some cute little areas for sure. There’s some cute little areas for sure. I would probably take them on a walk. Maybe take them over to Prospect Park. Maybe take them on a walk through Park Slope. We got to get them some pizza! I gotta get ’em some pizza. I can’t have it too, too much in the season, but maybe some Lucali’s. That’s a pizza spot that think is really, really good. And there’s one near me called Giuseppinas that I really liked. So there’s a couple of good ones that I would say “this is this is worth taking a look at.”
Question, unknown: How’s the chemistry of the team right now?
CJ: It’s going pretty well. I think these last couple of weeks, we’ve made big strides. [We’ve] been making big strides all along, but there’s been some moments that we showed a real connectedness and we’ve been able to pinpoint those and I think it’s something that we can expand and grow up on.