Greg Anthony on Brooklyn vs. BroadwayAnthony says fans of the intra-city rivalry will be "in for a real treat" this year
Originally, of course, the Nets and Knicks were set to kick off the season at Barclays on Nov. 1. The aftermath of Hurricane Sandy may have forced the game’s postponement, but as the calendar turns to Nov. 26, the game may actually be even bigger because of both teams’ early success; the Nets come into the first intra-city rivalry game with a record of 8-4 after Sunday’s home win over Portland, while the Knicks are 9-3 after topping Detroit at MSG on Sunday.
Both teams have been early-season darlings thanks to both their situation and their hot starts, and as the Barclays Center will likely have more than its share of Knicks fans in attendance, those records mean that in addition to seeing one heck of a basketball game, fans will likely be in full trash-talk mode if their team wins.
And that’s a good thing, says new Nets on YES analyst Greg Anthony, who agrees with the preseason surmisals of his YES colleagues and Knicks analyst Walt “Clyde” Frazier that it will be the ticket-holders who make the game – and the rivalry – bigger than just what it is on the court.
“Listen, it’s going to be intense,” Anthony said last week. “I think the players already sense it and know it; they’ll try to downplay it, but (the rivalry) exists, and it exists in a major way.”
Anthony played for the Knicks from 1991-95, starting 26 games on the 1993-94 team that reached the NBA Finals. The Nets also reached the playoffs in three of those four seasons, and Anthony said that the combination of geography and quality made their rivalry a big one back then – but now that the Nets are in Brooklyn (and winning), it’s only going to get even bigger.
“The geographical rivalry speaks for itself, but I think it’s far more prevalent now than it was when the Nets were in New Jersey, because the fact is that the Nets are legitimately are going to contend to be the best team in the region and win the hearts of the region’s fans,” Anthony said.
That conversion process will be a little easier for the Nets in the short term, according to Anthony, who cited the simple law of supply and demand as their biggest ally in the fight.
“The reality is that you have such a hunger for professional sports in Brooklyn. This would be one of the largest cities in the entire country on its own, and they haven’t had a major professional sports team in more than 50 years,” he said, “so to now finally have it – and not just to have it, but to have it in the right way, with a first-class organization and a new owner willing to do whatever it takes, a first class facility, and a legitimate roster that is looked at and expected to be a playoff team – is very special.”
But in the longer term, Anthony says, the Nets’ best strategy for winning over the region might be a variant of another well-known rule of thumb: keep your friends close and your enemies closer.
“When you add all that up and you look at the Knicks across the river, they’re very parallel, as both have a handful of bona fide superstars,” Anthony said. “You’re never going to take the Knicks’ fans from them, but as younger fans continue to grow and follow the game, they’re going to have an opportunity to choose, and I do think both franchises will continue to be relevant.”
So what will the fallout be? Anthony isn’t sure, but in his closing statement, he did offer one guarantee about the Nets-Knicks rivalry, at least for this year.
“I think the league, and the fan base in the metropolitan area, is going to be in for a real treat.”
Follow Lou DiPietro on Twitter: @LouDiPietroYES