Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Heart Of The City: Knicks-Nets Rivalry

Since 1946 the Knicks have always been New York's team but with playoff struggles the last decade plus and no championship since 1973 the New York Knickerbockers have competition with their new crosstown rival the Brooklyn Nets. The franchise formely located in New Jersey was always viewd as the #2 in the NY area basketball team despite more recent success then the Knicks Manhattans squad always hogged the spotlight. Then the Nets relocated to the borrough known as Brooklyn and have already made some noise staking they’re claim as NY’s basketball team and the heart of the city. With the free agent signings of All-Stars Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Gerald Wallace and big men Kris Humpries and Brook Lopez the Nets will have a starting 5 capable of beating anybody in the league let alone the Knicks. The Nets seem to have resembled they’re owner Jay-z in the way they talk and convey themselves. For example newly aquired shooting guard Joe Johnson said when asked about who he thinks the best team in the big apple is “the Nets definetly the Nets” strong words for a player who on a team who hasn’t played a single game yet. Knicks superstar Carmelo Anthony responded b saying “I hear they’re trash talking but  we will be ready for the challenge. The trash talking Dosen’t just stop at the players Brooklyn borrugh president Marty Markowitz said “ For nearly 40 years the Manhattan Knicks have shown the can’t bring a championship to NYC, so it’s up to the Brooklyn Nets to get it done”. He would later continue expressing himself by saying “ Move over Manhattan, you have had your chance”. The strong words should stir up feelings and city pride between players and fans alike lets compare different aspects of city’s, teams and player match ups.

The Citys

Manhattan: Home to central park, Times square and the empire state building. Manhattan is home to just under 1.7 million people and a tourist destination for millions of other people around the world. When New York is talked about as a big city with bright lights Manhattan is the center of it all. From Wall street to Madison Square Garden Manhattan is a place of attraction and endless fun for everybody. Manhattan is home to our countrys largest library and home to the ever popular Grand Central Train station which has appeared in countless movies and television shows. Manhattan is also the birthplace to my mom and is the definition of what a “glits and glamour” city looks like. Manhattan has also shot several TV shows like "Seinfeld" and "Friends" just too name a few. Whether you are a tourist,actor or even a pro Basketball player this is where you want to be.

Brooklyn: A much different city BK is New Yorks most populated borrough at about 2.5 million people. Brooklyn is home too Coney island, the 4th of july hot dog eating contest, botanical gardens and an incredible influence on Hip-hop music and culture. This borrugh dose not have the “big city ,bright lights” that Manhattan has but it is a place where many immigrants come to live and make home in. The city has churned out many hip-hop artists like Jay-Z, Biggie Smalls, Talib kweli and Busta Rhymes. BK is also home to one of the nations biggest art collections located in the Brooklyn library. It also is home too the world famous Brooklyn academy of music which has hosted musical acts like Paul Simon, Robert Redford and the Jimmy Kimmel show just too name a few famous people who have stepped foot into the bk landmark. Spike Lee (who ironically roots for the knicks) is a Brooklyn native and film director who shot the classic film “Do the right thing” in the Bedford-Stuyvesant housing projects located in Brooklyn.


New York Knicks

Walt Frazier, Bernard King, Allan Houston, Patrick Ewing those are some of the many names that hold a special place in the MSG rafters and Knick fans hearts. The franchise won world championships in 1970 and 1973 but has failed too do so since. In 1999 the Knicks fell short of becoming the first 8th seeded team in NBA history to win a championship when they lost to David Robinson, Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs in 5 games in the 1999 NBA finals. The Knicks began play in 1946. Madison Square Garden has been the Knicks home since 1968 and is the second oldest arena in the NBA behind the Golden State Warriors venue- Oracle arena. It is often reffered too as “the mecca of basketball” due to its high amount of unforgettable NBA and College basketball moments. Manhattaners have always supported this team regardless of how good or bad the record was. The Knicks last season were a straight soap opera with injuries too Carmelo,Amare stoudimeire and the firing of coach Mike D’antoni the knicks looked like they weren’t going to even qualify for the playoffs, then “Linsanity” happened. With the Knicks not even in the 8th seed the MSG faithful let the boo’s rain down on a nightly basis with the inconsistent play. When Jeremy Lin took the floor he would take NYC by storm and lead the Knicks to an 18-6 record down the stretch to secure the 8th seed in the playoffs. He gave NYC many memorable moments with 38 points and 7 assists in a win vs. Kobe Bryant and the L.A Lakers at MSG and 27 points and 11 assists vs. Toronto which he hit a buzzer beater 3 pointer in which sent the predominantly asian Raptor crowd into a frenzy. The Knicks had a great run but with Lin, Baron Davis and Rookie Iman Shmpert all sidelined with injuries the Knicks would lose in 5 games to the eventual world champs the Miami Heat.

Brooklyn Nets

 Often viewed as the awkward step cousin of NYC hoops in New Jersey the Nets have a new look, arena, energy surrounding the team like they have never experienced . With the sparkling new Barclay's Center in the heart of BK  the Nets are looking to create a buzz  and stake they’re claim as New Yorks team. With the signings of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Gerald Wallace, Kris Humpries, and Brook Lopez the Nets will posses a starting 5 more then capable of matching up with the Knicks. The Nets are trying to do more then win the battle of NY but win the battle vs. the whole league and become champions someday. Trash talking and a cocky attitude really has showcased and embodied what  Brooklyn streetball is and by possessing a certain type of swagger the nets will rep BK very well. Joe Johnson recently came out and said “Brooklyn Nets have to have swag and it starts with confidence”. Make what you want of that statement but he is trying to forge an identity between the city of Brooklyn and the players on the Nets roster. The nets have raised the flag and made Brooklyn their territory, when its time to lace up the shoes they have to play with confidence and heart. I like the black and white color scheme of the Nets jersey because that’s how I believe a lot of people from Brooklyn are black and white from the way they view things so if this team plays well then recognition will come but if they struggle im sure Brooklynites will be sure to let em know. So its time too say HELLO BROOKLYN!!! But how many times will we say HELLO VICTORY?!

The Fans

This the most intresting aspect of this newly developing rivalry. Im sure many Knicks fans used to reside in BK but many have converted into Nets fans. However im also sure that regardless of location that many Knicks fans will hold true to their alliance to the Knicks. One person who’s a Brooklyn native is a actor/director/Knicks diehard fan Spike Lee who has stated many times that even though he is a native of Brooklyn he will remain a Knicks fan which too many people isn’t a surprise at all. Spike Lee has been with the Knicks win or lose and his love for the team is so deeply rooted that he could be the mascot for the Knicks (just ask Reggie Miller). Im sure that with the Nets in Brooklyn that many people will have debates too who should root for what team and I believe that it will cause a lot of civic pride in the fans and the borroughs in which they live. You may have a family who has 3 generations of Knicks fans and all of the sudden the younger generation breaks that cycle and becomes a Brooklyn Nets fan. Its stuff like that that I believe will make this rivalry exciting the fact that you may have rivalrys between fans within family’s. One person who has become a BK nets fan already is multi-platinum artist Busta Rhymes who was spotted at the Brooklyn hip hop festival wearing the ever popular black t-shirt with the Brooklyn Nets logo that reads in white letters “Hello Brooklyn”. Im sure with NY being a hoops crazy city this rivalry certainly wont lack passion or enthusiasim. Another thing I have thought about how many Brooklyn fans will go to Manhattan and how many Manhattan fans will go to Brooklyn? Although MSG  and Barclays center will be 2 very enticing arenas to catch some basketball which fan base will make a bigger impact in the other teams opposing arena? Brooklynites have used strong words Marty Markowitz Brooklyn borrough president called it “treason” for any Brooklyn nites to be rooting for the Knicks come November. He also makes a comparison to citizens of Brooklyn to Manhattan he says  Manhattan residents are “primp, promper, classy and impeccably dressed” when talking about Bkers he say “we are scrappy, unfraid to speak our minds and we wear our hearts on our sleeves”. He also said “MSG dosent have the same sparkle now that Barclays Center is in town”. Strong words from the Bk president hopefully his team plays up too his words.

The Matchups

The starting 5 between these two teams is gonna have a lot of interesting match ups so lets take a look and break down the match ups.

New York Knicks

PG: Raymond Felton
SG: Iman Shumpert
SF: Carmelo Anthony
PF; Amare Stoudemire
C: Tyson Chandler

Brooklyn Nets

PG: Deron Williams
SG: Joe Johnson
SF: Gerald Wallace
PF: Kris Humpries
 C: Brook Lopez

These are 2 pretty good starting fives even though im sure Knicks fans would object to that due to the fact that Jeremy Lin is now a Houston Rocket but I honestly think people forget how good Raymond Felton was for the half a season he played for the knicks he was playing like an All-star point guard before the trade for melo happened. I think that him coming back is the best thing for him its gonna motivate him to come into camp in shape unlike last year because NY is where he truly wanted to be. Raymond isn’t expected to out play a guy like Deron Williams but if he takes care of the basketball and can take care of the basketball and return to form he will give the knicks more then a fighting chance in beating their crosstown rivals.

At the 2 guard postion we have 6 time All-star Joe Johnson vs. Scrappy sophmore guard Iman Shumpert. Now while this match up would look like a definte edge to Joe due to his scoring ability don’t sleep on the young kid outta georiga tech he showed many times last year he can be a difference maker on defense and his toughness and agressiveness could get the better of J.J but because of his scoring ability you got to give the edge to Johnson.

The match up at the small forward position is easily the most interesting on one end you have Carmelo Anthony one of the leagues most purest scorers. On the other end you have Gerald Wallace a tough grity physical speciman who plays his heart out on the defensive end and in my opinion he will become a fan favorite and the embodiment of what Brooklyn Basketball is about. It will be interesting for me as a basketball fan too see how Melo and his jab step work against Wallace and his smothering wing defense four times a year when they play each other. I give the slight edge to Melo for a few reasons one he is a star and may get bailed out a few times and two he is one of the few guys in our game who can truly score at will no matter who the defender is.

 The power forward match up is really a toss up between Amare Stoudemeire and Kris Humpries while Amare is a NBA all star Kris Humpries is unknowingly too most one of the best rebounders and double double guys in our game. Amare doesn’t always maintain a high intensity on the defensive end and sometimes checks out of games so depending on which Amare we see ill give the edge because of rebounding ability to Kris Humpries but Amare can always be an impact player as long as he just shuts his mouth and plays the game.

Last but not least our matchup at the 5 position features 2011-2012 defensive player of the year Tyson Chandler and skilled but injury plagued big men Brook Lopez. This is the x-factor match up Chandler is arguably the most dynamic defensive player in the league his intensity can rub off on teamates and help the team win just look at the 2011 playoffs. Lopez when healthy is a top 5 center in the NBA but in order for th nets to go as far as they want he will need to stay healthy and play like he is capable of. Even though Brook can stretch the floor and shoot the ball as well as any big men ill give the edge to Tyson Chandler just because of his intensity and toughness I feel like he would impose his will on the fragile Lopez but if brook develops watch out NYK.

Final thoughts

Overall I will give the Brooklyn Nets the advantage over the Knicks, they have to much star power and presence on the boards. The Knicks would struggle on the glass which would lead to a lot of 2nd chance points for the nets. Also the diversity of the Nets offense would be too much to handle with the playmaking ability of Wiliams, Slashing of Wallace and ability to strecth the floor with guys like Lopez and Johnson the Knicks would have a hard time defending them and that’s hard enough for a team that overall isn’t the strongest defensively. Towards the later stages of the game I feel that Melo will have too much of the burden on his shoulder to put the team on his back and against a team With the nets skill level that will be a tough task in the 4th quarter. All in all I think this rivalry is just what the NBA needs because it lacks true rivalrys today like it had in the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s. What better stage then New York to have 2 teams fight it out for the right to be called the heart of the city?

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