Charles Jenkins never thought he'd be inside an arena at the corner of Flatbush and Atlantic avenues, not far from the hospital where he took his first breaths.
Not only is the Hofstra product still somewhat amazed that he's living out his dream of playing in the NBA, but on Friday, the Golden State guard got the chance to see how far his borough has come. Brookdale University Hospital is a 15-minute drive from Barclays Center, yet it probably seemed so far away.
"The atmosphere is a lot different around here," he said before scoring four points in 5:32 in the Warriors' 109-102 win over the Nets. "I remember coming to downtown Brooklyn and this was just a big empty space. Now they have the Barclays Center here and you can feel the atmosphere in here when you walk in, even before the game started. It's definitely a great feeling."
Warriors coach Mark Jackson also was born in Brooklyn and played high school basketball at Bishop Loughlin before going on to St. John's and starring with Patrick Ewing and the Knicks. Just two weeks ago, when the Nets were in Oakland, he proudly talked about wanting to experience the vibe and sense of pride that Brooklynites are feeling.
When Jackson, who had about 10 family members in the crowd, pulled up to the Nets' $1-billion home Friday, he was in awe.
"Wow," he said. "You couldn't imagine this being here as a kid growing up, as a high school kid. You just couldn't imagine it. So it's a big deal, and rightfully so."
He added: "They did a spectacular job, absolutely spectacular job. Ownership, [general manager] Billy King, Avery Johnson, the Nets' organization should be extremely proud with the impact they've made not only in the community but worldwide."
Jenkins, whose spectacular career at Hofstra ended less than two years ago, was saddened that four members of the basketball team were arrested Nov. 29 and suspended from school after police said they admitted to stealing more than $10,000 worth of items from fellow students.
"It was crazy, just because when I got the phone call about it, I didn't believe it," he said. "It was tough. It's something that when I was at Hofstra, you read in the paper that someone else did that at another school. You say, 'Man, that would never happen here.' It's a lot different when you open up the paper and there are guys that have 'Hofstra' on their chests. It's very unfortunate what happened."