GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — This time of year, the floor of Van Andel Arena is usually covered with an ice rink, but on Tuesday the arena was transformed to a hard wood court.
The Grand Rapids Gold held an open practice, followed by a player autograph session to kick-start the team’s inaugural season playing at Van Andel Arena after moving from their previous location at the Deltaplex.
“Compared to where we was at last year, it definitely was a nice thing to see,” second-year player Trevon Duval said. “It made me excited to see it, and ready for the season. To play in an arena where you have a lot of fans and people cheering you on, it could be an advantage for games for sure.”
The premiere downtown location is expected to fill seats and sell tickets this year, but so will a two-time NBA champion on the Gold roster. Former Miami Heat star Norris Cole won back-to-back championships with the team in 2013. Now, he’s bringing his talents to West Michigan after a stint playing pro basketball internationally.
He says coming to Grand Rapids is a full circle moment for him, playing under first-year head coach Andre Miller. Miller spent nearly two decades in the NBA, and was someone Cole played against and looked up to as a fellow point guard.
“He was the super vet then, and I was the young fella,” says Cole. “(Miller) is one of the best point guards ever, he spent 17 years in the league. He has, I think, over (7,000 to 8,000) assists, so he has a lot to offer. For me, as a point guard, I’ve always wanted to have a coach or a veteran point guard to learn from, and now I have that.”
Cole is looking forward to learning a thing or two from Miller, but he’s expected to play a veteran role as the oldest player on the team.
The Gold open their season on the road against Fort Wayne on Nov. 5, and will play their home opener at Van Andel on Nov. 10 against the Motor City Cruise.