There was no escaping them.
No matter where MarShon Brooks looked -- Twitter, television, the Internet -- his name was always attached to those Dwight Howard trade rumors. If the Nets were going to land the highly coveted All-Star center, their 2011 first-round pick was likely going to be a part of any deal.
Brooks' name was out there before the Magic eventually shipped Howard to the Lakers last month, and everyone knew it.
"It was tough," Brooks told Newsday on Thursday in a conversation from Moscow, Russia, where he's participating in the NBA's Basketball Without Borders program. "It was my first time going through that, my first time going through trade rumors. But at the end of the day, I looked at myself in the mirror and I said, 'We are talking about Dwight Howard right now, so get out your feelings, young man.'
"Dwight Howard is Dwight Howard, so I got over it as time went on. But it was tough at first, seeing my name in so many different trade rumors. But I got over it. It's a business. This is what I signed up for, so this is what I get."
Brooks is thrilled to still be a part of the Nets and play in their new, sparkling $1 billion Barclays Center, which is set to open its doors in Brooklyn exactly two weeks from Friday with a concert by Jay-Z, the team's part-owner. After going 22-44 in his rookie year and an offseason filled with his name bandied about, the Nets' shooting guard is eager to get it started.
"It's very exciting, coming from last year," he said. "We are headed to Brooklyn and it's a totally different look, a totally different team, a totally different city. So, it's obviously exciting, just to see the guys, just meeting the guys. It's exciting that we are going to have a team that can compete to win every single night."
Brooks said he met new backup point guard C.J. Watson and veteran swingman Jerry Stackhouse prior to heading overseas. Still, he hasn't made acquaintances with Joe Johnson and the rest of the Nets' offseason acquisitions.
Once he does, though, they may have to knock him off with a fly swatter.
"Honestly, I'm just going to try to pick up every little thing I can from them," Brooks said. "If I can have half the career that they have, I'll be very happy with that. I'm just trying to pick up their work habits. I know that it's not easy being an All-Star in this league. These guys work hard, so whenever they are working, I'm going to be right behind them. Harder and harder. Just follow them."
Adding weight during the offseason was a huge priority for Brooks, who averaged 12.6 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game in his first season. Talk of trying to put on extra pounds is something people around Brooks discuss with him annually. But after getting physically outmatched by many of his defenders in his initial season in the NBA, the 6-5 guard knows he can't let that continually happen if he wants to truly be successful.
"I was 198 pounds soaking wet last year, so it was kind of tough at times," Brooks said. "If I want to have a career in this league, I've got to make the weight room my best friend."
With the Nets' offseason haul and knowing how explosive they can be offensively, Brooks is aware he's going to have to bring some different things to the table other than scoring. Don't worry. He's not exactly planning on shedding his scorer's mentality -- hey that's what got him here after all -- but simply wants to focus on some of the intangibles.
"We have a lot of scorers this year," Brooks said. "Last year, I had to score in order for us to compete. This year, I'm just going to try to do anything possible just to win, you know? We've got guys who can score: Gerald [Wallace], D-Will. Brook Lopez, he's a walking 20 [points], 10 [rebounds] himself. My role is going to be to go out there and provide energy in any way necessary.
"If we are lacking in scoring on that given day, then yeah, I'll come out and be a little more aggressive. But with these guys, I think things are going to be so much easier and I'm just going to come out there and play my game. I am a scorer, but any way possible. Everybody is going to have to sacrifice this year. Any way I can help the team, I'm willing to do that."
Before helping his teammates, though, Brooks is spending a few days in the native land of Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov and visited with the Russian billionaire Thursday.
Posing with Prokhorov was a bonus. Along with the likes of Spurs forward and North Babylon native Danny Green, Brooks is in Moscow participating in many tasks, including a Special Olympics clinic for children. He's also part of a camp that offers instruction to 50 top young European players, and he'll offer up some pointers during a NBA clinic at a local school.
"It was an opportunity to help the community," Brooks said. "I just wanted to help look out for the Brooklyn Nets and represent them well."