This will be the Brooklyn Nets‘ last season as the only team to call the Barclay’s Center their home arena, as they’ll be joined by NHL franchise the New York Islanders the next winter. The marriage between the two little brother franchises should work out perfectly.
Both teams play in definite shadows in the Big Apple with the New York Knicks and New York Rangers taking the big stage of Madison Square Garden, and most of the New York fans call themselves fans of those teams. The press follows the teams and fans to the “world’s most famous arena” as well, with the back pages of publications like the Daily News, New York Post and Newsday telling the fares and fortunes of the larger clubs, while the Islanders and Nets sit as just sub-headlines in both the papers and the culture of New York.
Despite the role of the Knicks and the Rangers as the mainstream New York teams that loom over the Islanders and Nets, history may favor those smaller-time franchises. The Islanders and Rangers both have four cups in their history, though, three of the Rangers’ titles came before the Islanders ever existed, and with enough teams in the NHL to count on two hands. Meanwhile, the Islanders won their cups in dominating fashion, taking four-straight Stanley Cups home between 1980-1983, becoming arguably the greatest dynasty in the NHL.
The Nets too have had equal, if not more, success than their crosstown counterparts. They took home ABA titles in 1974 and 1976, and while they have not won a title since the NBA-ABA merger, they found themselves in the NBA Finals in both 2002 and 2003, led by PG and current head coach Jason Kidd, and have made the playoffs in two-consecutive seasons. The Knicks, for their part, made runs to the Finals in 1999 and won NBA championships in 1970 and 1973, but have been a laughing stock for most of the 21st century as owner James Dolan has essentially run the team into the ground with a series of bad decisions regarding both players and staff.
With all this in mind, the Nets and Islanders should make great roommates in Brooklyn. The Nets have already established an identity in the Barclay’s Center as the underdog, tough team with something to prove, and the Islanders fit into that philosophy perfectly. Both teams play with a chip on their shoulder, eager to own the city the way their crosstown rivals do now.
Nets fans should be excited by the team’s partnership with the Islanders, especially considering one crucial fact — the Nets and Islanders shared an arena during the 1970s, and it turned out to be arguably the most successful home the Nets have ever had. They won both of their ABA titles while playing at the Islanders’ home arena, the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, and were a hugely influential team with some of the game’s biggest stars like Julius “Dr. J” Erving.
Neither team seems quite poised to raise any championship hardware in their first year sharing the Barclay’s Center, but that shouldn’t be far off. This should be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.