Last year, Jamaal Tinsley needed to give the Utah Jazz’s team bus driver directions just to find their hotel as the driver had gotten lost on the way. This year, Tinsley tried to sign with the Nets, but he didn’t quite make it to his destination.
“Who wouldn’t? Who wouldn’t want to play in a Brooklyn uniform when you’re from Brooklyn?” said Tinsley, a Brooklyn native who grew up less than five minutes away from the Barclays Center. “My agent did all that, I let him take care of that.”
The Nets considered it too, but ultimately choose to go with Shaun Livingston as Deron Williams‘ back up. So instead of donning the white and black, Tinsley has to settle for visiting in navy and gold.
Still, he says, playing in Brooklyn in front of his family, friends, and, especially, his son is pretty special for Tinsley.
“This is real special for my son to see this,” he said. “Friends and family have been seeing this for a while, but my son is older now, he understands this. It’s real good to let him see what I do before games, see how players get ready for a game, hear guys arguing. It’s good for him to see this.
It also means a lot to Tinsley, as it does for many Brooklynites, just to see an arena and a team in his hometown. “It takes me back, to see how the NBA is growing, to get a team here and for me to last this long, to play in front of family and friends and my son, is an honor,” he said.
Tinsley averaged 11.6 points, 8.3 assists and 4.0 rebounds per 36 minutes with an effective field goal percentage of 43.7 during his career nearly didn’t make it back for another visit this year. At 35-years-old, he’s slowed down a bit. Last year his numbers were down to 6.8 points, 8.6 assists and 3.4 rebounds. The Jazz didn’t re-sign him until Oct. 26, just days before the season started. The fact that his career is coming close to an end seems to make him cherish every opportunity a little bit more.
“It’s the best, to get an opportunity to play in the Barclays Center,” he said. “I don’t take anything for granted.”