Tonight when the Brooklyn Nets meet the Manhattan Knicks for the first time, many fans think it will be the start of the next great rivalry in the NBA. And this is definitely a good possibility. But are the two teams rivals yet? Not quite.
Knicks center Tyson Chandler was asked about what he thought of the rivalry and he said that he did not consider the Nets nearly as big rivals as the Heat or the Celtics, both of whom have defeated the Knicks in the playoffs the last two seasons. But why should those series create a rivalry?
Both the Celtics in 2011 and the Heat in 2012 defeated the Knicks very easily. In fact, the Knicks only won one game total between the two series. I don’t believe that either of those teams consider the Knicks to be one of their rivals.
This is a new season and power has shifted slightly in the east. Although the Heat and Celtics are still two of the top teams, the Nets, and maybe even the Knicks too, have become playoff contenders. It is possible that the two teams can meet in a playoff series this season because both teams have played well so far.
On top of that, this is obviously a geographical rivalry, something that Boston vs. Miami or Manhattan vs. Miami is not. Fans of both teams know each other and see each other every day. Fans of both teams will invade the opposing team’s arena to create more of a neutral game feel. When the Heat play the Celtics, very few Heat fans will travel up to Boston from Florida.
Additionally, superstars help create a rivalry, and the Knicks’ superstar is a big part of this one. After refusing to be traded to the Nets from Denver, Anthony was instead traded to the Knicks, despite claiming he is from Brooklyn (although he was raised in Baltimore). There are other players also involved in the rivalry. Knicks starting point guard Jason Kidd was the leader of the Nets in their glory years in the mid-2000’s. Instead of signing with Brooklyn in the offseason, he signed with the Knicks because of a better contract. Even Tyson Chandler received an offer from the Nets when he was a free agent, but instead signed with the Knicks.
The Knicks have landed most of the best players that both teams have went after in the past, but that was because the Nets have been wasting away in New Jersey. Now, with the brand new Barclays Center, free agents will be much more inclined to sign with the Nets, possibly more so that signing with the Knicks. Players who decide between the two teams will also fuel the rivalry.
The two teams have their first battle tonight at 7 PM on TNT.