New Jersey Nets read to kids at McDonald’s Other teammates ‘paint the town’ throughout tri-state area

Close to a hundred fans crowded into Hoboken’s McDonald’s last month to catch a glimpse of New Jersey Nets Vince Carter, Antoine Wright, Nenad Krstic, and Mile Ilac, who dropped in to read a Halloween tale to local kids while helping the counter staff serve and prepare meals for customers.

The hour-long event was part of the National Basketball Association’s “Paint the Town Red Program,” which enables the teams to help out local communities at the beginning of basketball season, which, for the Nets, was Wednesday Nov. 1.

“I just want these kids to have a good time,” said Carter, as he made his way out of McDonald’s while adoring fans with pens stalked him to get a signature. “They’re young and they probably don’t even know who we are, but they enjoyed themselves and that’s all that matters.”

The 15 or so costume clad 4-year-olds were from Hoboken’s A Whole New World Academy at 721 Washington St. and, according to inside sources, were woken up prematurely from their nap time in order to participate in the event. It was clear from most of the kid’s faces that they had no idea who was reading to them.

Fans galore

Although the event was not intended to be a fan-signing event, local fans, particularly students from Stevens Institute of Technology, quickly became aware of the visit via the Internet and word of mouth.

“Everybody was talking about it in class,” said 19-year-old Net Fan and Stevens student Justin Eusebio. “I should let them sign my shooting arm and then play some basketball. I bet I’ll be really good.”

Another Stevens undergrad who has been following the Nets virtually since the cradle was 17-year-old Raza Husain.

“I’ve watched Net games all my life on TV. I’m very excited to be able to finally meet them in person,” said Husain.

Pat Bator, a senior from Secaucus who has been following the Nets for the past 20 years, was also there to show her support. “All I want to do is thank them and wish them good health so that they’re able to play well the whole season,” she said.

The bigger picture

The New Jersey Nets also take part in various benefits throughout the year, from visiting children at Goryeb Children’s Hospital in Morristown to distributing over 12 tons of food and personal care items to 400 needy families in Newark.

The players aren’t the only ones with big hearts. In August the Net Dancers performed for injured troops who have recently arrived home from Iraq and Afghanistan at the Fort Dix Army Base.

Other benefits for the Nets include serving an early Thanksgiving dinner on Nov. 9 to less fortunate families in Brooklyn and in Montclair through the Salvation Army. They will also work with the Reserve component of the United States Marine Corps for Toys for Tots, which will occur on Dec. 9, when marines in uniform will be posted at every entrance at the Continental Arena to collect toys for disadvantaged children in the community.

Michael Mullins can be reached at


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