After the Brooklyn Nets’ 110-99 loss to the Miami Heat, a clubhouse attendant stopped at Shane Larkin’s locker for an extra minute. In addition to taking the player’s trash and dirty towels, the attendant reminisced about Larkin’s two seasons at the University of Miami, inquired about Larkin’s high school career, and wished Larkin good luck in the season’s final nine games.
It wasn’t the usual encounter between a clubhouse attendant and a member of the opposing team, but Shane Larkin isn’t the usual opposing player.
The one-time Hurricane point guard started for the Nets Monday, and the crowd greeted him with mild applause during pre-game introductions.
Larkin played 30 minutes against the Heat, scoring seven points and recording eight assists.
“It’s always a good feeling to be back in Miami,” Larkin said before the game. “I had a lot of success down here in my college years…it’ll be fun to go out here and play…a lot of minutes against the team I was cheering for in college.”
Larkin led the Hurricanes to the 2013 Sweet 16, and he cheered for his old college team during their latest March Madness run. He said he watched parts of the Hurricanes’ second-round and Sweet 16 games, and he reached out to current Hurricanes Sheldon McClellan, Angel Rodriguez, and Tonye Jekiri after the team’s elimination.
“I told them ‘great run,’” Larkin said. “‘You guys represented for the school…I wish you could have gone further, but it was a great run regardless.’”
After winning ACC Player of the Year as a sophomore, Larkin declared for the NBA Draft, and the Dallas Mavericks acquired him in a draft-night trade. Larkin spent a year on the Mavericks’ bench before being traded to New York. He started the Knicks’ first 13 games of the 2014-2015 season and then spent the rest of the season in a reserve role.
Larkin has played for three different teams over his first three NBA seasons, and he said he’s learned that the league is “a business.”
“You can’t really predict where you’re going to be the next year,” Larkin said. “You’ve just got to go out there and keep working.”
The Nets signed Larkin in the off-season and he began the year as a backup, but interim head coach Tony Brown inserted Larkin into the starting lineup for the Nets’ March 24 game against the Cavaliers.
Larkin delivered 16 points and seven assists in Brooklyn’s victory over Cleveland, and he remained in the starting lineup for the Nets’ visit to Miami.
“He obviously keeps our pace up,” Brown said of Larkin. “His speed and quickness in the open court has been a very good lift for us since he’s been starting.”
Forward Thaddeus Young, who contributed 20 points and nine rebounds on 10-for-12 shooting against the Heat, said Larkin has helped the Nets since he joined the starting five.
“He’s been a spark for us,” Young said of Larkin. “He’s probably the fastest guy on the court at all times.”
Larkin holds a player option to return to the Nets for the 2016-2017 season. He said that he hopes to find a long-term home soon.
“If you can be on a team that wins games, they’ll want to keep you around,” Larkin said. “That’s the goal.”