I challenged Brooklynites to switch allegiances from the Manhattan Knicks to your Brooklyn Nets in November, but I also understand this easier said than done (horrible Knicks’ mismanagement notwithstanding). But after Monday’s Martin Luther Kind Day regular season finale between the two rivals, the choice is clear: Brooklyn is where it’s at.
Yes, the two teams split the season series, and, yes, every game, with the exception of the pre-Christmas blowout when the Nets were seemingly spinning out of control, went down to the wire, and yes, as I write this, the Manhattanites lead over the Flatbush Avenue crew is but one game.
But that’s the reason hardscrabble Brooklynites must get behind this hardscrabble Brooklyn team.
The Nets played a sloppy game on Monday at the Garden, turning the ball over 19 times, but were still able to come away with a victory. Brook Lopez and Kris Humphries dominated the glass, and the Nets forced Carmelo Anthony into bad shots, rendering him much less effective than he had been in the previous three contests. The game — clearly a microcosm of the season — proved that these two teams are clearly headed in opposite directions.
The Nets have gone 11–2 under new head coach P.J. Carlesimo, beating some of the NBA’s best teams during that stretch. The Knicks, on the other hand, are only 5–6 during their past 11 games.
Even though these two teams won’t meet again during the regular season, it appears that the battle is only just beginning. The Nets and Knicks are locked in to what figures to be a two-horse race to the bitter end for the Atlantic Division crown, with the aging Celtics falling behind. And we are here to tell you: it’s not too late to jump on the Brooklyn Bandwagon.
I understand you won’t be able to say you were with the Nets from the beginning, but that’s OK. This column doesn’t discriminate against late arrivals.
Don’t be left out. Following the Nets to a division title. Starting now.
Tom Lafe is a 6-foot-5 sports world insider with a middling high school basketball career who believes the Nets will be driven by the success of the team’s big men.