With the NBA season barely a week away from officially starting, you’ve probably noticed we’ve been pumping out enough preview content to bury even Hasheem Thabeet. Over the next week, we’ll be taking a look at the 10 biggest storylines of the 2013-14 season. Today, we’re beginning with what should be a fun back-n-forth war: The Battle For NYC between the Knicks and Nets…
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Being a professional athlete in New York City comes with its perks. Bright lights, big city, the stage couldn’t be greater. However, if you don’t produce, prepare to feel the wrath of the city’s media, which make up the largest news market in the NBA.
While the Knicks are coming off of a No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs, finishing behind the two-time NBA champion Miami Heat, 2013 also marks 40 years since the storied franchise won its last title. Since then, or at least during the better part of the 2000s, the Knicks inept management put them in a tough position to succeed.
Fast-forward to this season and you have a group led by the NBA’s most recent scoring champion, Carmelo Anthony. Many feel ‘Melo’s superstardom is worthy of the hype, and J.R. Smith felt so confident that he made a championship guarantee before the first day of training camp.
Anthony didn’t make any outlandish predictions but did acknowledge he believes the Knicks will be better this season after quietly assembling Beno Udrih, Andrea Bargnani and Metta World Peace.
Whether the Knicks are better than last year remains to be seen. They had a quiet offseason, at least compared to the Brooklyn Nets, who made some of the NBA offseason’s biggest transactions by acquiring three veteran stars, stars that Knick fans already hate.
Brooklyn settled into their new borough last season, doing so by, according to The New York Times, topping the ticket sales of all other American venues. Suddenly, the Mecca of Basketball had competition. This competition will carry onto the court this season. The hype is real. Ask new Net Jason Terry about New York’s championship aspirations.
“Maybe the Rucker Park Championship,” Terry told Dime this past September. “Not the NBA championship. I don’t see how they could guarantee that at all.”
Terry isn’t the only Net expressing his distaste for the Knicks. Paul Pierce told ESPN Radio NY that his hatred for the Knicks has “grown to another level” since arriving in Brooklyn and that it’s time for his new club to start running the city.
Almost instantly, Knicks point guard Raymond Felton took exception to Pierce’s comments, telling reporters they will never take New York from the Knicks.
Even Spike Lee hopped in on the fun, saying Pierce is “talking crazy.” And we can’t forget the KG-Carmelo “Honey Nut Cheerios” conversation that’ll surely spice things up as KG dons the Brooklyn uni this season.
In the middle of all this is Brooklyn Nets head coach Jason Kidd, who called the guys on the other side his teammates last season. Kidd isn’t minding the chatter at all. In fact, he’s almost encouraging it, telling Newsday this offseason, “That’s who my guys are. They have to be who they are.”
Kidd, who helped the Knicks win their first division title in 19 years last season as a player, hopes to bring that same leadership to the sidelines in Brooklyn.
If the two sides have a chance to meet during the 2014 Playoffs, expect this matchup for the crown of NYC and a shot at the two-time champion Miami Heat to be amazing.
Still, while both teams will have a new look this season, there are many questions that must be answered if either team hopes to be a legit contender. Do the Nets have enough mileage left on the speedometer to make it to the finish line, or will the wheels fall off? Will the Knicks keep their cool, finally having their mental approach equal their athletic prowess? Only time will tell.
Remember, like they say in the Big Apple, “The neon lights are bight, on Broadway.”
Which team will be better this season?
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