New York Revival: Knicks And Nets On Path To Return To Greatness

Upon leaving New York City for All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles, we knew there was a very good possibility that either the Knicks or Nets would pull off a deal, most likely involving Carmelo Anthony. But what transpired last week for both New York teams (yes, the Nets will soon be in Brooklyn) has been nothing short of astounding.

With the Knicks being able to add Anthony and Chauncey Billups, in addition to the Nets adding Deron Williams, the star power in New York is at a level we have rarely seen. With articles and talking heads spouting out how NYC basketball from grassroots up through the pros is far from what it used to be, this is the beginning of the resurgence. The domino effect will soon be very real, as the success of the pro teams will start to be felt throughout the city very soon.

If you look back in time by decade, there have only been a few different occasions when the Knicks and Nets have had stars on their teams at the same time. The last true star to play for either team before Amar’e Stoudemire arrived in New York this summer was Jason Kidd, who was playing at an all-world level with the Nets as the Knicks were entering one of their worst periods in franchise history.

Now it has all changed. The Knicks have the core pieces in place that will draw free agent role players to New York with an eye on the title in 2012, and the Nets are following the same blueprint. Between a new home being built in Brooklyn, a more than committed owner and arguably the NBA’s best point guard, both franchises will be raising the bar back to where it belongs for basketball in New York.

With that, here is a look back at three different time periods when All-Stars were playing for both franchises:

It was a nightly battle: Tonight, do I watch the Knicks on MSG or the Nets on Sports Channel? Patrick Ewing was at the top of his game, leading the Knicks in their quest to become champions for the first time since 1973 with a cast of characters that featured Charles Oakley, John Starks and Anthony Mason. And the Nets, playing great ball after years of struggling to be recognized as a legit pro franchise, had three All-Star caliber players in Kenny Anderson, Derrick Coleman and the late Drazen Petrovic. Whether it is was a Petro dagger from deep, a Kenny the Kid drive and kiss or a DC turnaround jumper from the mid-post, the Nets were a problem – especially in 1993. But all of that came crashing down when Petrovic passed away in that terrible auto accident, and Anderson was injured on a hard foul – ironically committed by Starks – and was never the same player again.

Simply put, the Knicks received one of the greatest individual season and then postseason performances any player in the history of the NBA has ever delivered. Bernard King averaged 26 points over the course of the regular season, and then raised the bar in the playoffs by averaging 34.8 points over the course of 12 games. King then started the ’84-’85 season averaging 32.9 points over the first 55 games before he went down with a knee injury that changed the future of the franchise. While King was dropping buckets on 7th Avenue, the Nets roster was compiled with four very strong players that included Otis Birdsong, Darryl Dawkins, Buck Williams and Michael Ray Richardson. This season was the last time the Knicks and Nets were both in the second round of the playoffs in the same postseason.

Before Julius Erving was a Net, there was Rick Barry, who dropped 31.5 points per game while leading the Nets to the 1972 ABA Finals. After a down year for the Nets in ’72-’73, Dr. J returned home to join the the team and lead them to the 1974 ABA championship. During the same time period, the Knicks were in the middle of their greatest run in franchise history. After capturing the 1970 NBA title, they appeared in the 1972 NBA Finals (where they fell to the Lakers) before bouncing back to defeat L.A. in 1973. Led by Walt Frazier, Willis Reed, Bill Bradley and Dave DeBusschere during the first title run, they added Earl Monroe for the next. Serious star power for any franchise, but the fact that it was here in New York – and both teams were winning championships in their respective leagues – made it a special time for pro basketball in America’s largest city.

Between the Knicks and the Nets, who will make it to the NBA Finals first?

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