Article first published as Knicks and Nets: New Rivalry Good For New York on Blogcritics.
An upstart Brooklyn team daring to take on the successful established team in New York: if that sounds familiar (think Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Yankees) it is, and it is happening again. The Brooklyn Nets (how nice it is to hear "Brooklyn" as part of a team's name) are looking to establish a legacy in the city, and the team had a pep rally outside Borough Hall with Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz leading the charge to challenge the cross river rivals.
Markowitz implied that the Knicks haven't been able to bring a championship to the city and that "it's going to take the Brooklyn Nets to get the job done." Images of two guys standing in the middle of the street in a Western town ready for a gunfight flashed in my head. If anything, this is going to be a most exciting and interesting basketball season here in New York.
Nets coach Avery Johnson praises his backcourt of Deron Williams and Joe Johnson, who will join the rest of the starting five (Brook Lopez, Gerald Wallace, and Kris Humphries) as the new era begins in the sparkling new Barclays Center in Brooklyn. While Avery has no illusions that the team will win a championship in 2013, the goal is to win one soon thereafter. Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov has made it clear he expects to win a championship by 2015, but there's no pressure, at least not yet.
The Knicks certainly have the Nets on their radar, but they have enough on their plates to keep them occupied. The idea of filling their most pressing need: point guard, is still not resolved. The Houston Rockets have now upped the ante and offered Jeremy Lin a $25.1 million contract, which is going to be difficult for the Knicks to beat (the team has three days to match the offer). The Knicks have wanted to keep Lin to work with Jason Kidd, whom they had hoped would be a mentor for the 23 year old Harvard graduate, but now it doesn't seem like it will happen.
"Linsanity" became a worldwide phenomenon last year, and the Rockets must sense that what he may lack in ability can be greatly overcome by his star power. The Knicks are also aware of the possibilities of a healthy Jeremy Lin (who hasn't played a minute since getting hurt in April) playing in Madison Square Garden again. Last year (judging from walking around New York) the team must have made a fortune on Jeremy Lin jerseys alone. If he is healthy and playing well, it will be great for the team and for the player.
Also, the rivalry between the Brooklyn Nets and the New York Knicks will depend upon both teams performing well on the court. How much fun will it be to see that heat up if the two teams are doing well? It will be great to have New Yorkers debating about players and the teams, in many ways just as we now have with the Mets and Yankees. This New Yorker is thrilled that we have the Nets back in New York where they belong.
Of course, we will have to see if there will be an opportunity for both teams to be playoff contenders. For now, under Mike Woodson the Knicks seem to be heading that way again. Johnson says he feels his team can compete, so when we have the first Knicks game against the Nets in Brooklyn it will all feel the way it should feel for New Yorkers. Let the rivalry begin!
The New Jersey Nets are now dead; long live the Brooklyn Nets. Now, if we could just get the Jets back on this side of the river, I would be one happy sports fan.
Photo Credit: brooklyneagle.com