Nets, Knicks battle for New York with big stakes
by Adi Joseph, USA TODAY Sports
The new neighbors are noisy.
The Brooklyn Nets never intended to make a quiet debut, and the New York Knicks never intended to roll over for their city invaders. Both teams underwent massive roster overhauls this offseason and even changed jerseys in the process.
But few expected their first meeting to be quite like this.
When the teams play Monday (7 p.m. ET, TNT) at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, they will have the second- and third-best records in the Eastern Conference. They boast sparkling home records and several marquee victories.
Suddenly, the Battle for New York has possible title implications.
The start wasn’t smooth. Monday’s game was schedule for Nov. 1, to serve as a grand spectacle of a season and arena opener. But superstorm Sandy put an end to that, and both teams adjusted quickly and assertively. The Knicks won six in a row out of the gate, and the Nets began 6-2.
But this has always been about answering the bell in the shiny new rivalry. The Nets have put pressure on the Knicks. When they unveiled chic black-and-white jerseys, New York answered with a cleaner interpretation of their classic duds.
In New Jersey, the Nets were afterthoughts.
“There’s definitely going to be some Knicks fans in there but I don’t think it will be as bad as it was last year,” Nets point guard Williams said of the potential Barclays center crowd.
And maybe that’s the direction for this rivalry. The Nets are new, hip. The Knicks are proud, grizzled. Brooklyn’s overhaul this offseason brought in nine new players, seven under 30. New York has the oldest roster in NBA history. Only three of its nine new players are under 30.
Knicks forward Kurt Thomas is the oldest player in the NBA at 40. Teammates Jason Kidd, Marcus Camby and Rasheed Wallas are third, fifth and sixth on that list. Even the Knicks’ rookies are old. Chris Copeland, 28, and Pablo Prigoni, 35, are playing their first NBA seasons after years overseas.
The Nets’ best player this season has been 24-year-old center Brook Lopez, though 28-year-old point guard Deron Williams is the face of the team. These … [For more on Nets, Knicks enter Battle for New York with big stakes, click here.]