2) Manhattan/New York Knicks
Just by the heading, you know that the Nets-Knicks hate is real. Yes, they’re really the New York Knicks, but to Nets fans, they are only Manhattan’s team. The players try to downplay it, but they know the intensity’s there.
The Tri-State area has been divided by its two inhabitants since the New Jersey Americans joined the ABA back in 1968. The two did eventually meet in the NBA come 1977, when the Nets were still playing at the Nassau Coliseum.
The Nets and Knicks consistently play hard-fought games with bragging rights, mostly triggered by geography. There were no brutal playoff matchups like with Toronto, no star left for the other, no coach pursued a trade to the other side of the East River, so we’re not going to find anything more glamorous than the region.
The Knicks made the playoffs once between 2002 and 2007. The Nets played into late April and on each time in that span. Between 2011 and 2013, the Knicks made the playoffs all three times, the Nets just once.
Historically, they haven’t matched up well. The Nets won 20 of 24 matchups between 2002 and 2007, and the Knicks won 18 of 27 games from 2008 to 2014. It’s more a matter of eras, and fans.
The fans emphasize the importance of this interstate matchup, which then washes over onto the players. As stated earlier, the Nets and Knicks have no reason to disdain the other except for the fact of who “owns” the state.
Every Nets-Knicks game will be forever overpriced in the ticket booths and hyped on social media to unfeasible levels, but the real battle always goes on in the stands. On the court, it still remains the Knicks “era” in the recent years: the Knicks have won five of eight regular season matchups since the move to Brooklyn.