Wednesday, December 12, 2012 at 9 a.m.
This is already so fun, you guys. It only took the first quarter of a single season, but the matchup between the Knicks and the new-look Nets are already better than anyone could've expected, and probably better than any would've dared hope.
Last night, the two teams matched up for the second time this season; the first, on November 26, the Nets scraped out an overtime victory at the Barclays Center. This game was even better. After getting blown off the court and being down as much as 17 in the first quarter the Knicks crawled back behind 45 points from its star Carmelo Anthony, and after a clutch Jason Kidd three with 24 seconds left, the Knicks escaped from Brooklyn with the 100-97 win.
It wasn't supposed to be like this. Last year, the Knicks barely made the playoffs, only to be destroyed by the eventual champions, the Miami Heat. So to fix their team, they decided to ship off New York's favorite Asian, Jeremy Lin, and bring in Raymond Felton, Marcus Camby, Jason Kidd, SHEED, and Kurt Thomas, all of whom were/are overweight and super long in the tooth, and a majority of whom really have no business still playing in the NBA.
After being moderately terrible last year, the Nets were able to hold onto most of their important pieces while adding All-Star Joe Johnson and adding a bunch of solid bench players to their solid starting lineup. These teams would still be good, we guess, although before the season, Nets were supposed to be much better than the Knicks, and some people didn't even think the Nets would make the playoffs.
Instead, New York City has what looks like two playoff teams, including one, the Knicks, who are mystifyingly on top of the conference (right now, the Nets are in sixth). So maybe it's the excitement of a new team in town stealing fans, and the willy-measuring that causes between the opponents. Maybe it's because fans are close enough to take a subway ride from Madison Square Garden to Barclays without transferring. Maybe it's because city celebrities like Nets part-owner Jay-Z and number one Knicks fan Spike Lee can sit in the front row, yelling and goading at the players, that makes it feel like both matchups between these teams have been playoff games.
But after years of being forced to either cheer for a team that's really bad or outsource our fandom to Boston, LA, or Oklahoma City, it feels like New York deserves this. Let's just hope that this competitive, entertaining rivalry, like the teams' longstanding irrelevance not so long ago, lasts a while.