Paul Pierce lobbed a shot across the river that was immediately volleyed back by Madison Square Garden’s resident bad boy J.R. Smith. In true Nas and Jay Z fashion, Pierce proclaimed that it is time for the Brooklyn Nets, NYC residents of two years, to run this city. Smith, now a redhead to show off all his hot-headed non-conformity, still thinks that the New York Knicks are the marquee team in town. They both boiled the pot of probably the most intense rivalry this city has ever seen.
Both teams are coming off excellent seasons. The Knicks, winners of the Atlantic Division last year, made significant moves by acquiring Andrea Bargnani and Metta World Peace.
The Nets won 49 games last year and made the splash of the early summer by acquiring the two Boston legends for a lucky rabbit’s foot and Gerald Wallace’s bloated contract. They may now boast the best starting five in the NBA, much less the city. You also add former Net and Knick, Jason Kidd, into the mix and you can see how bad blood can run into the East River.
Unlike all the other rivalries–Yankees-Mets, Giants-Jets–the Knicks and the Nets will actually be competing against one another for a division title. Add the old Boston Celtics into the mix who make no effort to conceal their disdain for the Knicks, and you have the makings for games that will feature a playoff level intensity in the regular season.
So, I hope Carmelo Anthony gets into the fray. I hope Kevin Garnett is on billboards snacking on Honey Nut Cheerios. I even hope the usually stoic Deron Williams and Joe Johnson say they think Manhattan is to bourgeoisie for their taste. As long as the games can topple the intensity brought from last year, NYC Basketball can truly take the forefront where it belongs.