The New York Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets: The rivalry that was short-lived

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In the summer before the 2013-14 NBA season had begun, basketball was the talk of the town in New York. The Knicks nor the Nets had won the championship the year before, neither franchise had acquired a superstar in free agency, so why was basketball on everybody's lips?

It was because New York basketball was back, or so many were led to believe.

The New York Knicks had just come off a 54-win season and Carmelo Anthony had his best year with the orange and blue. The Brooklyn Nets had just hired Jason Kidd and acquired Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce from the Boston Celtics to join a roster that included All-Stars Joe Johnson, Brook Lopez and Deron Williams.

There were genuine reasons to be excited as a potential rivalry in the Big Apple was in the process of taking shape.

Three years on, as the Knicks prepare to meet the Brooklyn Nets for the final time in this campaign, that moment appears a distant memory.

It appears fitting that the two teams play one another on April Fool's Day, in front of fans who were fooled into thinking this 'rivalry' was destined for great things.

To put it into context, as per the New York Daily News, of all the players and coaches involved with the two franchises in that 2013-14 season, only Carmelo Anthony and Brook Lopez remain.

Both teams are currently operating under interim head coaches, which is the biggest indication of where the teams are at present, in limbo.

With no first round draft picks and faint hopes of luring any stars in free agency, the future for the two organisations in the biggest market in the NBA doesn't bode well.

In rookie Kristaps Porzingis, the Knicks at least have a foundation in which to build on, something nobody in New York would've expected after Phil Jackson was vilified for his decision to draft him.

The Latvian's emergence was likened to 'Linsanity' at the start of the season and at the midway point of the campaign, he had the fourth highest selling jersey in the NBA. This showed just how much the Knicks faithful were longing for a star to transform their fortunes.

The youngster has all the tools to become a dominant player for years to come and with a few extra pieces can help get the team back to a competitive level. The Nets, however, don't have the same luxury.

When Mikhail Prokhorov purchased the team in 2010, and subsequently moved them to Brooklyn in 2012, he displayed a desire to emulate the Knicks. Instead, he has only managed to match them and make many of the same mistakes that their cross-city rivals have made over the years.

Soon after acquiring the Nets, Prokhorov, a proud bachelor, declared that he would get married if they didn't win a championship in five years. He didn't live up to his promise in 2015 and he'll think twice about making any more while he owns the franchise.  

The Russian billionaire started this calendar year by firing head coach Lionel Hollins with general manager Billy King also stepping down. It was a move that indicated that Prokhorov was ready to rip everything up and start again. 

“It’s clear from our current state of affairs that we need new leadership,” Prokhorov said at the time, via USA Today. “With the right basketball management and coach in place, we are going to create a winning culture and identity and give Brooklyn a team that it can be proud of and enjoy watching.

“I take full responsibility for the state of the team and I think Billy King did his best. Just we need a fresh look.”

The NBA needs a successful team in New York, the fan base and market is too big to have its teams consistently missing out on the playoffs. Unless either of these teams pulls off a major coup in the offseason, New York basketball will not be resurrected for a number of years.

Carmelo Anthony even confirmed this week that he approached coach Kurt Rambis and convinced him to limit the minutes for the team's veterans and give more playing time to the team's younger players, in a clear sign that this is the future for the Knicks.

"It's more of getting those guys involved in what we're trying to do and what we're trying to create and keep on moving forward," Anthony said. "They need to be out there, they need playing time, they need playing experience. You can practice and do drills, one-on-one things all day long, but you're going to get that experience playing in the games."

The state of basketball in one of the world's most famous cities is dire and the fans attending tonight's game must accept that there are more dark days ahead before there's light at the end of the tunnel.

New York Knicks
Atlantic Division
Eastern Conference
Carmelo Anthony
Brooklyn Nets
Brook Lopez

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