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Battle For The City

There is something amazing about first-time experiences.

The nerves, expectations and pressure of the moment create a feeling that falls somewhere in between fear and extreme excitement. No matter what the activity may be the first time is always special. And you’re never quite ready for most first-time events. Mostly because there is an intense desire to dominate the moment. A blind desire because many times there isn’t a full understanding of the pressure that comes with doing well that first time. Doing your part to make sure your moment lives up to lofty expectations.

Those feelings and so much more will create the atmosphere in the Barclays Center when the Nets and Knicks meet for the first time in Brooklyn. They’ll play three more times this season and countless times for years to come, but the first time means a lot; much more than the others.

It doesn’t hurt that both teams are playing well, currently sitting in the top two spots in the Atlantic Division. But the Nets will finally have a chance to show the Knicks, their chief rival, that they've arrived in the city and intend on making a lot of noise.

I’ve started to call it the city championship series. For New Yorkers,  it’s almost as big as the NCAA Championship or the Super Bowl; this first matchup in Brooklyn is huge.

The Nets have an opportunity to make a statement.

They have a chance to lets the Knicks, their fans and the basketball world know that they’re coming to take the city. It’s a chance to show they’re going to be more than the Mets, Jets and Islanders. Considering the Nets play in Brooklyn, the attitude is fitting. There is a distinction between Brooklynites and New Yorkers and the residents will routinely remind you of this.

Brooklyn is its own world and to the residents of the proud borough, Brooklyn has always come before New York – and the rest of the world. It’s a part of the charm that makes the borough unique from many other places. Because of that pride there is an expectation that the Nets from Brooklyn will fight to take the city from the Knicks. This first game is a big step in the process.

Brooklynites don’t want their Nets to settle for sharing the city like the Mets, Jets and Islanders because those teams are widely seen as little sisters to their more successful counterparts. It’s almost like those teams are afraid to challenge their brethren for the heart of the city.

That’s not something that will be accepted in Brooklyn; watching the Knicks celebrate a win in the Barclays Center is not acceptable either.

Their first matchup only counts for a single victory in the win column, but it will extend much further for players and fans.

Many of the Knicks players aren’t looking at the first regular season matchup as anything but another game. Most of the Knicks don’t yet see the Nets as a rival; at least that’s what they’re saying publicly. It’s that approach that makes this Nets-Knicks situation incredible. The Knicks’ arrogance is exactly the reason why Brooklynites don’t particularly care for those outside of Brooklyn – especially Manhattan. They don’t believe they’re viewed as equal or worthy and that feeling has always driven a rivalry between Brooklynites and everyone in the city.

Of course the Nets and Knicks have a rivalry and it began the moment the plans to move to Brooklyn were announced. It can be the best rivalry in professional sports if the Nets build their franchise in the right way. The potential of is incredible and their first matchup, regardless of the score, will be also.

It’s hard to determine who will win; both teams are playing well. But the game is no doubt a must-win for both teams.


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