Kings of the city: Knicks-Nets rivalry raises bar
How big is New York versus New York? Just ask the guy who runs
”If we were to have a World Series between the Yankees and the
Mets, or a Super Bowl between the Jets and the Giants, or an NBA
championship between these two great teams, No. 1, New York City is
so big, and the people here come from every part of the world and
from every part of America,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.
”And it would be the best thing that ever happened to all of
The Knicks and Brooklyn Nets can’t play for the NBA title, but
competing to be best in the Big Apple is pressure enough.
Bloomberg was speaking at a recent press conference to announce
that the Knicks and Nets would jointly host the 2015 All-Star
weekend. Officials from both clubs and the league took part, all
assuring that the teams get along well and look forward to working
Sure, maybe for one weekend. Don’t expect them to play nice now.
Not with two good teams sharing one passionate city.
It may be a Knicks town, but the Nets think it’s their time.
”Now you’ve got New York Knicks, who won the Atlantic last
year, then you have us coming in here talking about winning the
division, winning the East, winning the championship,” Brooklyn’s
Paul Pierce said. ”So you’ve got two New York teams talking about
trying to obtain the same thing. So obviously it’s going to cause
some type of friction between the two, which is good for the NBA,
which is good for the city.”
Not to mention for ratings – all four meetings are on national
TV, two on ESPN and two on TNT. And certainly for headlines – the
trash talk among players such as Pierce, Jason Terry, J.R. Smith
and Raymond Felton handed local papers plenty of NBA coverage
during the usual dead days of August and September.
Imagine what it will be like when they play in December, or
twice in April – perhaps with a division title or home-court
advantage in a playoff series on the line.
”I think people are making more of it than it really has to be.
It’s only four games out of the year. But it’s going to be heated.
I didn’t get to play in one last year but I’m looking forward to
it,” said the Knicks’ Kenyon Martin, who played for the Nets along
with Jason Kidd when they dominated the Knicks a decade ago.
But it was never really a rivalry back then – or at any point
when the Nets were in New Jersey. They simply weren’t close enough
on a map or in the standings to build what they have now, and
nobody knows it better than Kidd, who played for the Knicks last
season and is now coaching the Nets.
”When I was on the other side, we always measured ourselves
against the Knicks and now that we’re both on the same side of the
river, it is a very competitive and healthy rivalry,” he said.
”And hopefully we can win a couple more games than they do, but
it’s fun for the city to have both teams here.”
Kidd seems comfortable again in his role as Knicks tormentor.
When he saw Anthony at a Sept. 11 charity event, he teased his
former teammate about his impending free agency and taunted him
about how the Nets would defend him.
”He’s already working,” Anthony said.
Throw in noted Knicks adversaries like Pierce and Terry – who
was dropped by an elbow from Smith during last season’s
Knicks-Celtics playoff series – and the Nets suddenly have plenty
of guys who would want to beat the New Yorkers no matter what
uniform they had on.
The fact they’re in the same city just makes them want it that
”It’s going to be fun,” Pierce said. ”I think those type of
things are fun for the sport, New York-Brooklyn. I think the only
thing that separates us is the bridge and the thing that is going
to make this rivalry I think a little more competitive is because
both teams are contenders.”
It was only 2 1/2 years ago when they seemed further apart than
ever. The Nets were playing in a half-empty building in Newark and
narrowly missed the worst record in NBA history while losing 70
games in 2009-10.
Meanwhile, the Knicks had signed Amare Stoudemire, were on their
way back to the playoffs, and when they beat out the Nets to
acquire Carmelo Anthony in February 2011, seemed positioned to hog
the local spotlight for themselves for years to come.
Things change around here in a New York minute.
Not only did the Nets trade for Deron Williams days later, but
they kept up with the splashy transactions. They got Joe Johnson
last summer, then pulled off the blockbuster with Boston to acquire
Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Terry.
The Knicks held off the Nets for the Atlantic Division title
last season, though the Nets are widely predicted to take it this
time. The only thing the Knicks know for sure they aren’t losing is
their place in the New York basketball pecking order.
”It’s still a Knicks city, that’s not going to change. It’s not
ever going to change,” said the Knicks’ Metta World Peace, who
grew up in the Queensbridge section of Queens. ”There are so many
Knick fans in Brooklyn.”
But there’s now plenty of Brooklyn black and white popping up in
Manhattan, too. From Yankees-Dodgers to Rangers-Islanders, New York
loves its rivalries, and there’s a new one heating up now.
”They are nothing but good and fun for the fans, great for
business, and I think they push the teams that are involved with
them to even greater heights athletically,” Madison Square Garden
chairman James Dolan said. ”So it’s a good thing, and I expect
that that will continue to go on.”
AP freelance writers Ian Harrison in Toronto and Adriano Torres
in New York contributed to this report.
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