Like most young transplants to New York, Caris LeVert is alternately stunned and captivated by his new city.
The difference is that LeVert, 22, who grew up in Columbus, Ohio, takes it all in from his 45th-floor apartment in downtown Brooklyn. Last June, LeVert, a star basketball player at Michigan, was selected by the Indiana Pacers as a first-round pick in the NBA draft; two weeks later, he was traded to the Brooklyn Nets.
LeVert sat out the beginning of the season with a foot injury and did not suit up until December; since then, he has averaged 4.3 points and 15.4 minutes a game in his first 13 games. The Nets have a busy schedule, but whenever LeVert has downtime, he likes to explore his new hometown.
PROTOCOL: I’m a rookie basketball player, so a lot of my life revolves around the team. If the team is at home, and we don’t have a game that night, I get up and go straight to our training facility, down in Sunset Park. Until recently, I was putting in part-time practices because of my foot, but I also have to do a lot of rehab with our trainers and doctors. So I’m usually the first one there and the last one out. Fortunately, the Nets have cooks and dietitians on site, so I can get a good breakfast. I like the usual stuff, bacon, eggs, fruit, toast.
PLAYGROUND GAMES: My apartment looks west over lower Manhattan down to Governors Island and then north toward Queens and the Bronx. Before I moved here, I’d only been to New York a few times, usually for basketball tournaments, so I didn’t exactly have time to get out. Now I can explore a bit. I just found the Cage, in the West Village, which is famous for pickup basketball games. Sometimes I just stop by places like that, talk to guys on the court. I love how basketball can be this really competitive thing, but also it can be a couple of friends shooting hoops on the playground.
WOW FACTOR: When I have a few hours, I like to go check out a part of the city I’ve never seen. I’d heard great things about the High Line. I guess I’m not the first person to say, “Oh, wow, that’s cool,” but it’s still a great idea: a park in the sky.
STYLE POINTERS: I’m big into fashion, so I try to stop in SoHo or the meatpacking district occasionally. There are so many options, I try to not even focus on specific brands when shopping in the city. One of the things I love the most about New York is the heightened sense of fashion. In college, you just threw on some sweats and headed out. Here, every time you step out the door you’re making a statement. One thing I do like is Flight Club, the shoe store on Broadway. I’m a huge fan of Air Jordans.
FAN IN A SPORTS TOWN: I grew up wanting to play football; I didn’t start playing basketball until high school. I still love watching it. If I can, I’ll find a sports bar or somewhere to watch a game — drinking lemonade, of course. I love that New York is an all-around sports town.
SEAFOOD SPOTS: My mom is a retired teacher, so she comes to visit a lot. She loves to go out and see the city. We go out to dinner; we go shopping together. She loves seafood, and New York has way better seafood options than central Ohio, so we take advantage of that.
TEAM CENTRAL: If there’s no game, and we don’t have to travel, I usually come back home and relax. I hear when the Nets first moved to Brooklyn, most of the players still lived in New Jersey. But now pretty much the entire team lives in Brooklyn. Isaiah Whitehead was born and raised out here. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Chris McCullough, Joe Harris, Jeremy Lin, Justin Hamilton, Trevor Booker and Luis Scola all live here.
TYPICAL 20-SOMETHINGS: Our guys love Brooklyn, the culture and vibe really match well with our personal styles and team dynamic. Sometimes we go out to a charity event or a press gig, but otherwise, they’ll come over — we’ll order food and play Madden football, or watch TV. I guess I’m not all that different from all the other 22-year-olds who just moved to New York, in that way.