One of the well-heeled courtside patrons at Tuesday's Timberwolves-Nets game came to Newark prepared and prominently draped a Nets No. 43 jersey across his lap.

The number is the one Minnesota's own Kris Humphries would have worn for the home team that night if a sprained ankle hadn't kept him on the sidelines dressed in a fine suit.

The name on the jersey's back? Kardashian.

So goes life for the former Gopher who apparently has found love, tabloid attention and his NBA future in New Jersey, of all places.

Humphries is a viable candidate for the league's Most Improved Player award -- for which Timberwolves forward Kevin Love is the favorite -- as well as a new rich contract whenever the NBA's labor issues are resolved.

After he bounced from Utah to Toronto to Dallas in his first six pro seasons, Humphries has discovered success this season, to the tune of a 10.0-point, 10.4 rebound double-double average.

His play convinced the Nets they could afford to trade prized rookie Derrick Favors -- who plays the same power-forward spot -- to Utah for All-Star point guard Deron Williams.

Humphries has delivered enough success that he donned a hard hat on Monday and toured the team's new arena being built in Brooklyn, N.Y., with the belief he'll be playing there two seasons from now.

"They have a bunch of steel up and you can kind of see what the outline is going to look like," Humphries said. "It's something I'd like to be a part of."

Drafted 14th overall by Utah in 2004, Humphries arrived in the NBA at age 19. He was immature, self-assured and perhaps self-absorbed, too much so for venerable Jazz coach Jerry Sloan's liking.

Seven years later, he's now 26 and presumably a foundation piece for the Nets, who probably would have preferred the $3 million cap space when Humphries exercised a player option for this season after he was acquired in a trade with the Mavericks.

"Obviously, being older helps, maturity and stuff like that, knowing what to do when you get the opportunity," he said. "I came into the league in a tough situation, but I didn't let it affect my work ethic. You know that your time is going to come eventually."

His time has arrived this season, when he has found his place in the league and on the cover of OK! Magazine and others because of his relationship with reality-TV star Kim Kardashian. He also has California publicists who promote off-court endeavors that include his children's foundation, Five Guys hamburger restaurants, which he operates with his father, Bill, a former Gophers football player, and his life on the red carpet.

"Just living my life, that's it," he said when asked in the Nets' locker room last week about his new celebrity life. "Really, when I'm in here, I'm just trying to talk basketball. Sorry."

That life will include some time spent back home relaxing in Minnesota this summer, perhaps when it's just too stinking hot at his offseason home in Miami.

"It's hard to tell what will happen this summer," he said. You can't control a lot of what's going to take place. Just hopefully we all come to an agreement with and everyone can get contracts they deserve. We'll see what happens."