After spending the offseason exchanging quips and jabs, the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets have agreed to join forces and co-host the 2015 NBA All-Star Game in Madison Square Garden. In the two years until that time, which team will prove to be New York’s NBA authority?
Since the Nets moved to New York in 2012, the two teams have been embroiled in an arguably close rivalry for a title that the Knicks have long-held since the team was founded in 1946. Over the years, the Knicks have produced eight conference titles and two NBA Championships (1970, 1973). Just last year, they brought home the division title after nearly 10 years of less than favorable results.
Their recent win reinstated the hope that loyal Knicks fans had harbored since the close of the Patrick Ewing era. And just as the Knicks were finally emerging from a “rebuilding” decade, the Nets leave the Garden State for a chance at making Brooklyn the epicenter of New York basketball.
In their very first game against the Knicks, the Nets set a tone by defeating them 96-89 in overtime before a sold-out crowd at the Barclays Center. The Nets followed that win by putting up a solid performance and clinching the playoff berth in 2013. Although they ultimately lost to Chicago in the postseason, the Nets made it abundantly clear that they are a force and the Knicks need be ready to reckon.
At present, they are not.
Amar’e Stoudemire’s many health issues leave him unreliable, as with J.R. Smith, who has already managed to win a five-game suspension for allegedly employing “herbal” remedies while recovering from knee surgery (read: marijuana use). And, Carmelo Anthony likely will cash out on his contract next summer and cash in on some frequent flyer miles that could take him to maybe Miami, or perhaps even LA.
The Knicks have their hands full, to say the least, and bringing back Steve Mills as general manager and president may not be enough to overcome the beatdown Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce aspire to unload with the assistance of their new head coach Jason Kidd. Although Kidd’s coaching skills remain sight-unseen, seasoned power forward Garnett and all but small forward Pierce are just what the Nets need to position themselves to take New York’s NBA title. Whether the Knicks will surrender it to them is the question. The answer: not without a fight.