The Nets take center stage
After two decades of swings, the 2000’s were a decade dominated by Nets excellence and Knicks ineptitude. The Nets made six different playoff runs in the decade and captured five Atlantic Division championships.
The Nets entered the decade with a freshly minted rookie number one overall pick named Kenyon Martin and a brand new coach, Byron Scott. After a rocky first season, the Nets made a franchise altering trade acquiring Jason Kidd from the Phoenix Suns while sending out troublesome point guard Stephon Marbury.
With Kidd and Martin in tow, flanked by surrounding pieces like Richard Jefferson and Keith Van Horn, the Nets set out on a run of their finest NBA seasons in franchise history, including back-to-back runs to the NBA Finals in Kidd’s first two seasons.
For the next four seasons, the Nets retooled and refueled their roster. Kidd, still serving as the hub, was joined by Vince Carter and along with emerging youngster Jefferson, this trio served as the new Nets “big three,” a trio the Nets would ride to four more playoff berths including a 49 win season in 2005-06.
On the other side of the Nets metropolitan masterpiece that was the 2000’s, was the good ol’ New York Knicks. Throughout the 90’s the Knicks were one of the best teams in basketball and a team with a clear identity. These realities stood in clear contrast with the Knicks of the 2000’s. Often a team struggling to find an identity, coach or franchise player the Knicks struggled throughout most of the decade.
The Knicks had six different coaches in the decade and had an average win total of 31, including three different seasons of less than 30 wins. It was a decade mostly of failed draft picks and high profile free-agent signings that busted, but to say the Knicks were just playing bad basketball would be an understatement.
Throughout this decade, the Knicks were one of the worst-managed franchises in all of sports. Players such as Stephon Marbury and Eddy Curry marred the Knicks reputation with off the court issues while Knicks Director of Basketball Operations and then eventual coach Isiah Thomas became a running joke and living example of how not to run an NBA franchise.
In head to head the matchups the results swayed heavily in favor of the Nets. The Nets held a 25-11 record over the Knicks in head to head matchups in the regular season and in the two franchises one playoff encounter in 2003-04, the Nets easily handled an upstart Knicks team, sweeping the Bockers 4-0 in their first round series.