Hot! A Rivalry Born

There was a buzz in the Big Apple last night. One we have never felt before. Long have New York basketball fans craved a reason to follow the NBA. After years of dreadful basketball, we waited patiently while acquiring just the right ingredients. First, there was A’mare. Then Melo, D-Will and Mike Woodson.

Now, with construction finished, not only on the rosters but also the arenas — a refurbished Madison Square Garden and the new Barclays Center across the bridge in Brooklyn — which side are you on? Which one of New York’s two NBA franchises do you support?

Either way, it’s safe to say the city has won back the sport of basketball.

Last night’s battle between the New York Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets at the Barclays Center had an electrifying playoff atmosphere. Fueled by a combination of star players, teams on top of their division, and a roaring fan base that showed equal support for both organizations, the first meeting between the two teams ended in overtime, where the Nets prevailed, 96-89.

The Knicks were visibly gassed by the end, and perhaps the outcome will be different when A’mare Stoudemire, Iman Shumpert and Jason Kidd suit up, but make no mistake, Knicks fans, the Nets were direct in their statement last night that they are for real and they are not going anywhere.

The Nets showed they have a star point guard in Williams, who finished with 16 points and 14 assists despite his inconsistent shooting. His Knicks counterpart, Raymond Felton, was atrocious, but didn’t seem to know it as he continued forcing weak shots late in the fourth quarter en route to a disappointing 3-19 night from the field.

Small forward Gerald Wallace has gotten off to a slow start to the season for the Nets, but he came to play last night. It’s never easy being matched against a potential MVP candidate, but Williams held his own on defense against Anthony, physically hounding Melo, causing the Knicks superstar to lose both the ball and his composure on a few occasions.

Knicks center Tyson Chandler set a career high with 28 points and, unsurprisingly, was the defensive superior to Brooklyn’s center, Brook Lopez. Lopez (22 points, 11 rebounds) was no slouch, and so far has done an outstanding job of making the Nets and their fans forget about Dwight Howard’s talents being shipped elsewhere.

The benches for both squads were tested, but with the Knicks still battling some preseason injuries and Jason Kidd being a late scratch, the Nets bench played a more significant role, highlighted by 14 rebounds from reserve forward Reggie Evans and four 3-point field goals from ancient guard Jerry Stackhouse.

Carmelo, playing in his hometown of Brooklyn, shined for most of the game, contributing 35 points and 13 rebounds. Perhaps an absurd 50 minutes of floor time had something to do with his inability to hit the winning bucket in the end.

Only one team emerged victorious, but New York City as a whole came out the true winner. Basketball, in all it’s glory, is back in the Big Apple, and that’s not even the best part.

This was only the beginning.


Nicholas Kostopoulos

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