"The Knicks aren't cool anymore." That's how Kevin Durant explained the decision to choose New York but play for the Nets and not the Knicks. Same as the Clippers in LA, the Nets will always be the other team in the city, and you could hear it last night. It was a Nets home game, but the Knicks had a lot of crowd support. From Spike Lee sitting courtside to the folks in the nosebleeds. I don't know about cool, but there's still a lot of passion for the Knicks in NYC. Ding dong!
After winning a close game, Steve Nash was asked about the atmosphere in the Arena and didn't shy away from the reality of the situation. "We know it's going to be a pro-Knicks crowd. The Knicks have been around for 75 years if I'm not mistaken, and we understand that." Nash added that's an opportunity for the Nets to rise to the challenge and claim their home court.
I thought the atmosphere was great. It felt like a barn-burner. Like a big high school game, or a big college game.
Steve Nash, postgame
When the Knicks are great, the NBA is in a better place. But when the Nets are great at the same time, we get a chance to see something the Association is desperately lacking - a legit rivalry. The Nets have more talent; the Knicks have the hearts and minds of the city. James Harden loves it.
Being here for two years now, it doesn't matter who's on that team, who's on this team - the energy is always going to be there. That's one thing about this rivalry, it's always gonna be there, whether it's here or in MSG.
James Harden, postgame
Well, I get Harden gets to say that, but everyone understands MSG is always 99.9% Knicks, and for now, a Barkley's crowd is 50-50 at best. As Steve Nash said, a few good seasons by the Nets can't undermine 75 years of passion for the Knickerbockers.
Soul of the city
New York is the capital of the "coastal elites," but every great fanbase is built on the foundation of blue-collar folk. The Knicks are an institution because their identity as a team resonated with the fans. From Willis Reed, Patrick Ewing, John Starks, Charles Oakley to Julius Randle - the fan-favorite has always been a brash, tough, hard-working player.
The Nets have a chance to create a niche for themselves in Brooklyn. If you've ever been there, you know Kyrie and KD are the ultimate Brooklyn guys. They may even turn the Nets into the fantastic franchise and appeal to a younger, social media friendly crowd. But in my experience, hipsters don't show up 30 min early and lose their voice during a game. They are there to be entertained, not to be a part of the victory.
That's why when the Nets and Knicks play in New York, no matter where the game is at, the Knicks will have the crowd behind them.