Through Orange Colored Glasses
Tuesday evening, I found myself tuning into the fourth quarter of the Nets and Bucks game. While this on its own is purely anecdotal, the emotion concocted by the Nets remains constant for this diehard Knicks fan: one of utter disdain.
When I watch the Nets, I want them to lose by 30 points on a nightly basis. I want them to be the laughingstock of the league, for their newfound Kings County fans to stop showing up, and for utter chaos to ensue. In thinking about why this is the case and how it compares to the other intercity sports rivalries here, the main difference just hit me. The Nets in recent years have posed much more a threat to the Knicks than either football or baseball team posed to its respective counterpart.
Back in the halcyon days of Stephon Marbury, Jaime Feick and Lucious Harris, the Nets were merely a little brother to the Knicks. A 30 win also-ran, Nets/Knicks games at the Meadowlands were a mere Garden Party for a Knicks team that was good for about 50 wins per year. Of course, everything changed in 2002 when the Nets acquired Jason Kidd and the Knicks missed the playoffs for the first time in over a decade. The rest is modern New York sports history. The Nets were a formidable eastern conference title contender from 2002 through 2007 while the Knicks spent the same period as the laughingstock of the NBA.
The teams they gutted their rosters together in chase of Lebron, and then Melo. As a result of these team plans coupled with the emergence of twitter, a much purer rivalry was generated between the two fan bases. With regards to the Mets and Yankees and the Jets and Giants, you find ambivalence toward the other team among some fans. Sure, some Mets fans loathe the Yankees and there are Jets fans who’d never root for the Giants, but this blossoming Knicks/Nets rivalry feels different.
Simply put, I don’t think you’d find a single Knick who wishes success upon the Nets. Furthermore, save for the Nets fans who are former Knicks fans and can’t let go of their first true basketball love, I doubt many real diehard Nets fans want the Knicks to do anything but lose 60 games a year.
Of course, the aforementioned converted Nets fan only adds fuel to this rivalry’s fire. Yes, the Knicks have been mismanaged for years by a highly questionable owner. However, leaving a team for another one, especially one in the same city feels tawdry and wrong to me. The beauty of sports is for all the miserable lows, the highs are even THAT much better. To leave a team and never experience those highs is treacherous, in my opinion. While the Knicks may have to deal with Lebron for the rest of the decade, one time in the next 40 years they will finally win that elusive title. The owner can’t screw it up nor can he live forever.
Should that occur, it will be on par with celebrating a Cubs World Series in the Windy City. The parade will be epic and millions city wide will rejoice. The converted Nets fans will feel filthy. The only thing that could top it off in my opinion? If Brooklyn goes 8-74 in the same season setting the all time mark for futility.