A half-dozen Nets basketball stars gave out toys to dozens of children at Brooklyn Borough Hall this afternoon.
The players -- Brook Lopez, Derrick Favors, Ben Uzoh, Quinton Ross, Stephen Graham, and Joe Smith – bent over to almost double as they doled out basketballs and other gifts and signed autographs.
"It feels great. Just helping these kids out. Putting a smile on their faces," said Uzoh.
National Grid and the Barclays/Nets Community Alliance, which includes Barclays, the NETS, and Forest City Ratner, sponsored the event and bought the more than 1,110 toys that will be distributed this month. Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz' office helped organize the drive.
At Borough Hall, children from 4 to 12 milled around clutching their new toys. Their parents signed them up for the giveaway, and the children were able to request exactly the gift they wanted (within reason). Each child's gift was carefully labled with the correct name and handed out by the players in an orderly fashion.
Brook Lopez was the biggest attraction, with television crews and photographers jockying for interviews.
When ProspectHeightsPatch.com asked how he felt about the team moving from New Jersey to Brooklyn, Lopez said. "Everybody has been welcoming, it's been a very positive experience."
But when prodded, Lopez admitted the move is bittersweet. "Whenever a sports team switches locations it's always tough," he said, adding, "Hopefully the way we have been playing will be good enough to have a few fans come with us."
The more than 1,110 toys were donated to children at Salvation Army centers in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Bushwick, Brownsville, Bay Ridge, and Sunset Park.
Tajane Green, 11, asked for, and received, a Dairy Queen Blizzard Maker. But for her, the biggest excitement was meeting the stars.
"We got all the players' autographs," she said, holding up her signature-covered box.
But 8-year-old Malakai Williams, of Bushwick, seemed less than impressed.
After getting her basketball autographed by Lopez, she said LeBron James was her favorite player, adding, with a sigh, "I wish he could be here."
Parents who wish to sign up their children for a holiday toy should contact the Salvation Army at 212-337-7200. Parents will have to prove financial need to qualify.