The naysayers can down-play this all they want. "They" will point to the fact the 6-11 Nets still play in front of sparse crowds in Newark and to their abysmal record last season. The Nets also had their off-season hopes unrealized to a large extent while the Knicks overhauled their roster with 10 new players including Amare Stoudemire. I will cede the fact this is not the sexiest rivalry in the Metro area, the NBA, or in Sports. I know. The fact both franchises have struggled mightily in recent years pretty much means both teams and fan bases are starting from scratch in a sense. The Nets had to dismantle their Conference Championship teams and drifted into obscurity out in the No-Man's MeadowLands. The Knicks' fan base just wanted to get as far away from the Isiah Thomas Inferno as possible. Madison Square Garden even "had to" initiate a complete renovation because of the damage wrought by Demolition Zeke. And of course, the building of the Barclays Center in Brooklyn should not go under-spoken.
Do you see it? If you don't, you're not looking. The future of this rivalry is very bright because both teams are loosely tied together in a race to be better; not necessarily better than each-other..., just better as a franchise.
Knick Fan; Net Fan ~ Win, Win. You'll see. It's still a vision. But things are in place for both franchises to have far better days ahead of them than today's 9-9 and 6-11 editions...(namely Cap Space).
Both teams are headed in positive directions. I myself think the Nets took a major hit when Rod Thorn stepped down and took the Philly job. But they are still organizationally sound and now reinvigorated with new owner Mikhail Prokhorov. Avery Johnson is a damn good coach. Brett Yormark and Billy King still form a smart front office. The young players on the court, like Lopez will develop and with ample Cap Space, in time, the roster will be augmented. Right? We'll see. In the mean-time, No Sleep Till Brooklyn.
We know the Knicks; - Zeke we hope.., but can never really know for sure, is in the past (?). Donnie Walsh is good people to have running things now. Coach D, Amare and LANDRY FIELDS!... ~ We see what's going on and we like the progress. Right? (I have my issues with Coach D, but I'm cool).
The possibilities for two years from now are pretty bright IMO. For the Nets, the Knicks, the fans, two Boroughs and the city as a whole, I see good times ahead as fans and as this rivalry emerges (re-emerges?).
Admit this, the days of considering these teams neighborly will end when the Nets settle in Brooklyn.
By all means let tonight's game between the Knicks and Nets serve as a litmus test to see how warm the water is. This the first time they will be facing each other on the court since the teams started The BillBoard Wars. Let's see how the players react to each-other tonight. Let's gauge crowd reaction too. We'll see where we are with this thing and build from there, here; tonight. Why not? Like I said, both teams are positive forward now, not backwards negative. Coach Johnson is going to Coach a good game. Bank on it.
Coach D seems to have all the players' attention and functioning. The game should be a good one.
You have to admit because of the BillBoard Wars, we've all spoken more about the Nets and the Knicks, together, in the same sentences, in conversations, than I'm willing to bet we ever did before. Am I right?
Dolan, the Planned West Side Stadium Wrecker, chose to fight his fight with signage and commercials on his MSG Channels thus far. Mikhail Prokhorov likes to just tell us what he thinks and it's usually a great listen. He most recently said he doesn't care to be like the Knicks, nyet..rather, the Lakers were the team to emulate. He provides classic stuff. These mighty men of "power" and wealth can only serve to keep us entertained.
You have to admit, and not ignore the BUZZ to this game and these teams today. It's a low-level buzz, but a buzz none-the-less.
What started when Bruce Ratner announced plans to bring the team to Brooklyn was just a flare in the middle of nowhere. No one ever could get a feel for the news with all the "what ifs". But, here we are. I drove by the Barclays site today. There's steal beams rising like mighty Red Woods. We build from this and keep moving forward.
Enjoy the game and start thinking about this match-up in a different way.
NEW JERSEY NETS
NEW YORK KNICKS
Madison Square Garden
33rd Street and 7th Avenue
NEW YORK CITY