Knicks fans on Brooklyn vs. BroadwayHow do the orange and blue faithful feel about the "invasion" of black and white?
The rivalry between the two teams will only get stronger as time goes on, especially if both teams continue to stay at or near the top of the Atlantic Division as they are early on this season. That means that the fans will keep coming out, be it at Barclays Center or Madison Square Garden, to support whichever borough they choose…and will continue to talk trash to back that fandom up.
Nets fans have made their feelings known, so before, during, and after the first-ever “Battle of the Boroughs,” we walked around Barclays Center to sample the thoughts of some of those wearing “enemy” gear to get their thoughts on the “new kids in town” and get a feel of where that trash-talk meter is right now.
Some, like Paul McGerrity of Yonkers, are of the belief that no matter what, the Nets will always be the “other” team in the Big Apple.
“The Nets won tonight, but it doesn’t matter if they play in Brooklyn, or MSG or anywhere; the Knicks have been here forever, and they’ll always be number one,” McGerrity said. “There may be two teams in every sport here, but in every other sport, one of those teams clearly overshadows the other.”
But there are some, like Jared Connell of Queens, who don’t believe that’s a bad thing.
“I love the Knicks, but if I were a Nets fan, I wouldn’t think being ‘little brother’ is a bad thing,” said Connell, who drew from his support of the Mets as an example as to why. “A lot of people say this is a Yankees town, but for me as a fan, all that talk just made it sweeter when the Mets went to the World Series in 2000. I think a lot of Nets fans will feel that same way if and when they win an NBA title.”
Evan Corbo, who grew up in Brooklyn and now lives on Long Island, believes that even with the “two team” dynamic, Brooklyn is the perfect place for the newest NYC team to take up residence.
“Brooklyn has such a different vibe; it’s part of New York City, but it’s almost like a city all its own, too,” Corbo said, “and I think that the Nets will draw a lot of new fans just by being there, and those fans will join with the die-hards to create an identity all their own.”
We also talked to a pair of brothers, Teddy and Mike Bruckner of the Bronx, who believe that the “turf war” has always been there because the Nets moved from just across the river and not the country, but now, it will be much more intense of a war.
For both brothers, their fandom came about in part from who was the hot team when they began watching the NBA; 28-year-old Teddy came of age during the Knicks’ run to the NBA Finals in 1993-94, while 22-year-old Mike remembers Jason Kidd’s Nets being the class of the Eastern Conference when he began closely following the sport – but they also remember following the other team, too.
“The battle lines are drawn already, because no matter where you lived, you could see the Knicks on MSG or the Nets on YES,” Teddy said, “but the Nets were still a ‘Jersey team’ so there was a divide.”
“Yeah, and even though it was a short move, now that the Nets are in New York proper that will close a lot, I think, and it will make fans of both teams feel like they have to ‘defend their turf’,” Mike added.
And while that turf war is hot now, years from now the “choice” between Brooklyn and Broadway will be a divisive one – but a respectful one.
“I’ve lived in this city my whole life, and been a Knicks fan since I was born, but I think it’s cool that the Nets are here in Brooklyn and part of the NYC culture,” said Nick Thompson from Staten Island. “Having two teams here just means that much more excitement, and if they’re both good, it’ll be more electric than I think anyone can imagine because New Yorkers will be proud of all their teams.”
So then, with all that said, what’s the conclusion of Monday's research? If anything, it’s that this NBA season – and likely the next few – are going to be great ones in the Big Apple.
Follow Lou DiPietro on Twitter: @LouDiPietroYES