Since the 1997-98 season, there have only been two instances where the New York Knicks and the New Jersey/Brooklyn Nets have both finished with a winning record.
The Knicks and the Nets both finished with a 43-39 record in 1997-98. Then, the Knicks finished with a 54-28 record and the Nets finished not too far behind with a 49-33 record in 2012-13.
There have been three NBA Finals appearances between these two teams (2 for Nets and 1 for Knicks) over this span, but no championship rings to show for it. It has actually been 42 years (1972-73) since a NBA championship trophy was last hoisted in the so-called Mecca of Basketball when the Knicks defeated the Wilt Chamberlain-led Los Angeles Lakers.
The Nets (then known as the New York Nets) won a championship in 1976, but that was when they were still a part of the ABA. The NBA and ABA merged after that title, and the Nets have never won an NBA title.
Although the Nets relocated to Brooklyn in 2012, a large fan base has presided in New York City as well as all around the Tri-State Area for as long as I can remember. It’s an understatement to say that local fans want a NBA championship back in New York, but the reality is neither of these two teams are remotely close. The cross-town/cross-river rivalry has manifested into something we don’t even give a second look.
There’s not much to cheer about when it comes to basketball in the state of New York. These games don’t matter and won’t matter for a while.
This new era of the Brooklyn-Manhattan rivalry that exists has been filled with empty promises rather than quality basketball. The back-and-forth comments between the owners of the respective teams, Mikhail Prokhorov and James Dolan, have provided more entertainment than the actual teams itself.
This season’s Nets squad has charged back into the playoff hunt with a 33-40 record, and they’re attempting to fend off teams like the Boston Celtics, Indiana Pacers and Charlotte Hornets.
But it really doesn’t matter.
Does anyone honestly think that Brooklyn stands an outside shot against Atlanta? Brooklyn has won 10 games against teams that currently have winning records, with two of those victories coming against OKC when Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant were both out of the lineup.
The Nets won’t even have a favorable draft pick this year …. or the next … or the next. Atlanta has the rights to switch its pick with Brooklyn in this upcoming draft via the Joe Johnson trade, and it’ll be 2019 before Brooklyn doesn’t have any stipulations regarding its first round pick.
At least they have their second round pick this year…
Their cross-town rivals aren’t doing great, either. The Knicks recently set a franchise record for futility, losing their 60th game of the season on March 28, with eight games remaining on their schedule to add to that total.
And to think the Knicks were just one pick away from drafting this guy:
If you don’t think the season has been a disaster enough, try asking your friends to name the starting lineup for the Knicks.
Simply put, the state of New York Basketball is alarming.
Unfortunately, I was present for the Knicks’ Dec. 20 matchup against the Phoenix Suns, and the aura emanating from MSG was pathetic to say the least.
You could hear a pin drop.
The usual took place as boo-birds rained down and frustration engulfed the faces of New York fans and players, adding on to what had already been a terrible season to that point:
groupon selling the knicks, appropriately, as a comedy pic.twitter.com/vjhZxnkfVm
— Jason Gay (@jasongay) March 16, 2015
The Knicks have their first-round draft pick this year, possibly a No. 1 pick and almost certainly a top four pick. But next year, their first-round picks are headed to Denver and Toronto, putting the pressure on Phil Jackson to get it right this year.
Jahlil Okafor, anybody? Karl-Anthony Towns? Emmanuel Mudiay? D’Angelo Russell? Willie Cauley-Stein? Any will do.
This era of basketball in the state of New York is absolutely depressing. There’s a faint light at the end of the tunnel for Knicks fans this year, but history has proven that New York can hardly get it right in the draft, and who knows what Prokhorov has in store for the Nets?
But hey, at least we still have all those other teams, right?