By Dennis Velasco
When the Brooklyn Nets beat the Manhattan Knicks Monday night, in the County of Kings, in the Nets’ new home, The Barclays Center AKA The Black House, there was only one truth: the Nets were better that night. That’s it, finito. However, many things on the periphery lay out around that truth -- passion, pride, and hype.
In the end, it’s all about getting that chip, and only one NBA team can do that each year and the journey to get there from season-to-season takes an emotional toll on players and fans alike. At the beginning of the 2012-13 campaign, the Knicks and their fanbase were straight loving it! Passion. They started 6-0 with some big wins against the Miami Heat and on the road versus the San Antonio Spurs and the chest thumping continued. Pride. In fact, the New York media blew up the team and gassed up the fans even more. Hype.
Meanwhile, in their first six games, trying to build their legitimacy and legacy, the Nets were a mere 4-2, which could in no way compete with the undefeated Knicks record. Especially when you look at whom the Ws came against: Toronto Raptors, Orlando Magic (twice), and the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Nets for real? Not in the eyes of many outside of the Nets organization and its fanbase. Heck, even some in the fanbase couldn’t believe in the squad just yet. Zero hype.
Six games. The Knicks were christened anywhere from strong contenders to future champions and the Nets were labeled as “well, at least they’re better than they were in Jersey.” Six games was the halfway point before the Knicks and Nets would match up in The Battle of New York, The Clash of the Boroughs, whatever you wanted to call it, it was going to be the game where the Knicks put the Nets in their place as second-class hoops citizens or the Nets would kick down the door, thump their chest, and yell, “We’re here!”
Six more games. The magic faded away for the Knicks as they went 3-3 during this period, but kept a degree of strength and belief because all three losses came on the road against the Memphis Grizzlies, Dallas Mavericks, and the Houston Rockets. Fortunately for them, in the latter game, Jeremy Lin didn’t play like the monster he was when he wore the blue and orange. The Nets continued the previous pattern and went 4-2, but this time with legit wins versus the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Clippers at home.
Knicks: 9-3. Nets: 8-4. Next up, another angle to add to the media machine churning the headlines: Fight for First.
We all know what happened this past Monday. The aforementioned one truth, the Nets were better that night. However, there is one more that the Nets could keep close to the vest for all eternity - this was the FIRST game between the Manhattan Knicks and Brooklyn Nets. Iit could prove to be nothing or it could mean everything. Regardless, it was the first, and that’s why the Nets win is so important. There could be another win or another loss, but there will only be one first.
For all the hype the Knicks have gotten, valid or not, they now find themselves with the same exact record as the Nets with Brooklyn owning the head-to-head tiebreaker, as well as a 4-0 mark versus the Atlantic Division. As the lyrics from BDP’s classic “The Bridge is Over” says: Manhattan keeps on making it, Brooklyn keeps on taking it. Hype. After Monday night, the Knicks have lost it because the Nets took it.